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Osha’s Inspection Priorities

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By Author: David Barton
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OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is committed for strong enforcement of health and safety requirements in the workplace for the safety of employers and the employees. In order to ensure this is happening, OSHA conducts inspections in the workplace without any advance notice. However, it can’t inspect all the existing workplaces varying in millions of numbers. So, the agency carries out its inspection starting with the most hazardous workplaces in accordance to the priority wise listed below.

Imminent danger
The first priority is given to the imminent danger. It is a condition or a hazard that exists, which can lead to death or serious physical harm instantly or before the danger can be removed through normal procedures of enforcement. During the inspection, if the compliance officer observes and finds a condition of an imminent danger, they will ask the employer to abate the hazard voluntarily and remove the vulnerable employees from the site of exposure. If the employer fails to do this, OSHA will apply to the Federal district court through a regional solicitor for injunction prohibiting.

Fatality ...
... and catastrophe accidents
The next priority is given to the investigation of catastrophe and fatal accidents, which are resulting in the hospitalization or the death of three or more employees. In such cases, the employer should report such disasters to the OSHA within 8 hours. As soon as OSHA gets the report, it will start investigating to find out the reason of the accidents as well as carries out research whether any existing OSHA standards were violated. It will gather evidences, interview the employees, employers and others to determine the cause.

Complaints and referrals
The third priority is for the complaints given by the formal employees regarding the unhealthful or unsafe working conditions and to the referrals from any of the sources about the hazard in the workplace. Here, under this Act, the employees have the right for requesting the inspection by OSHA when he/she strongly believes that there is a violation of OSHA standards that leads to endanger the physical harm or if they believe that they are in an imminent danger from a hazard. OSHA also helps the employees in maintaining the confidentiality, if requested, it will inform the employees about the actions that it is going to take with respect to the complaint made, and also holds an informal review of certain decisions without any inspection if requested.

Programmed inspections
The last priority is given to the programmed inspections which are targeted at specific workplaces, occupations, high-hazard industries or other industries that are identified in the recent inspection procedures. In order to inspect, OSHA selects the industries based on the few factors such as, previous citation history, employee exposure to toxic substances or random selection etc. They may also conduct some specific emphasis programs in just one region of OSHA or certain office areas with respect to the knowledge of local industry hazards.

Follow up inspections
OSHA also conducts this follow-up and monitoring inspections for determining whether the employer has corrected the previously referenced violations and if the employer is failed in doing so, the compliance officer will inform the employer that he/she is nonexempt of “Failure to Abate” alleged violation. Monitoring inspections are made to ensure that the hazards are corrected and employees are protected when a long period is needed for the hazard to be corrected. These inspections are made as essential and take the priority over the programmed inspections.

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