Demystifying OSHA Inspections Part 3: The Actual Inspection

When OSHA decides to inspect your practice, the inspector(s) will show up at your door without notice. What happens then?  What are your rights?

When an inspector shows up, get a business card. Ask the inspector to have a seat in the lobby while you notify management and the OSHA Officer.  We recommend delaying the inspector no longer than twenty minutes.  Additionally, you cannot refuse inspection.  They will leave just long enough to get a warrant and the police.  The only time we’ve seen an inspection delayed was when the office was not actually open for business and just a small staff was present doing paperwork.

Use your time wisely. Walk-through your office to spot and correct any problems that can be handled quickly, such as replace a full sharps container or secure gas cylinders.   Grab a camera or camera phone.  If you are a TMC Client, call 1-888-862-6742 to alert us that you have an inspector on site.  Assistance for inspections is included in all service packages.

Greet the inspector. The inspector is going to ask for information about your business such as tax ID number and unemployment insurance number.  You should be told if this is a random inspection or you were reported.  If that information isn’t volunteered, you should ask.  They can tell you what you were reported for but not who reported you.  A “for cause” inspection should be shorter and focused on the reported violation(s).  The inspector is going to do the following:

  • Ask to see your documentation. This can, and likely will, include: policy and procedure manual, reports of any injuries or illnesses, HepB vaccination records and training records.
  • Walk through your practice and inspect various areas. Remember that under HIPAA regulations the inspector cannot enter an occupied treatment room without you getting permission from the patient beforehand. Never leave an inspector unescorted.
  • Take pictures. Ask them what they are taking the picture of and why.
  • Ask you or other employees questions on how something is handled. OSHA inspections are performance-based which means that what you are doing should match what your policies and procedures state.

The inspector may want to talk to employees without management present. This is allowed.

Things you can do during the inspection to minimize citations and lower fines:

  1. Always be polite and courteous. The inspector is just doing their job. Also, you get a 15% reduction in fines for being “cooperative and courteous.”
  2. Take a picture of anything the inspector does with your records.
  3. If asked for something you don’t know the answer to, ask for clarification. If this still doesn’t clear things up, tell the inspector you are going to call your consultant to verify. Then call TMC. (It is easier to stop a citation from being written than to get it removed later.)
  4. Always answer truthfully but do not volunteer information. By law they must inspect any area you bring up.
  5. At no point should an inspector ask for money. Report this to OSHA immediately. This person is most likely a scam artist.

After the inspection is over, the inspector will have a Closing Meeting to cover the preliminary findings. This meeting can happen immediately after the inspection or can be scheduled for a future date.  We will discuss the Closing Meeting in our next article.

Call TMC when the inspector leaves so we can start helping.