OSHA Inspections: First Impressions Count

Whether it’s a job interview, a presentation, or an inspection by a government auditor, first impressions count. That may be old news or common sense for most but we don’t always think of how to apply that to the work place and being ready for an OSHA or other inspection. How does that play out in practice? It means making sure that your managers are keeping their work areas clean and organized, just for starters.

Inspectors encountering a dirty, disorganized facility may assume that, if the employer does not care enough to keep its workplace neat and orderly, it probably doesn’t care a great deal about employee health and safety. A clean and well-maintained workplace is more likely to send the message that the company cares about the details, including employee safety. This isn’t about keeping work areas spotless; that is nearly impossible in some industries. But it helps to have work rules that require employees to clean up their workstations in terms of how a company is perceived when an OSHA compliance officer first arrives. Combine those rules with requirements about keeping equipment and safety gear maintained and in good condition. Think about requiring all employees to:

  • Report any workplace injury, illness, or near miss, as well as any unsafe conditions, potential hazards, or other safety concerns, in accordance with a Reporting Workplace Injuries and Illnesses Policy.
  • Keep their work area clean, organized, and free from clutter or tripping hazards.
  • Ensure that all aisles and exits are kept clear. Employees must not let cords, boxes, or other items obstruct or interfere with aisles or exits.
  • Wear all required safety equipment and personal protective equipment (”PPE”) applicable to their work or work area.
  • Properly care for and maintain any PPE assigned to them or which they use. Employees must report any worn, damaged, or defective PPE to their direct supervisor/Safety Manager/Safety Committee Member immediately, or if that person is unavailable, the next level above their direct supervisor as soon as possible.
  • Use the tools and equipment designated for the work to be performed and ensure that those tools are kept in good condition.
  • Not bring or use their own personal tools.
  • Not operate any machinery, equipment, or tools they have not been trained and authorized to safely operate.
  • Not operate any machinery, equipment, or tools that are damaged, not working properly, or which have had guards or other safety devices removed or disabled. Employees must report any damaged or non-working machinery, equipment, or tools to a designated person as soon as possible.
  • Not perform any maintenance or service work on machinery, equipment, or tools unless they have been properly trained to perform this maintenance and are an authorized employee pursuant to the company’s lockout/tagout policies and procedures.
  • Refrain from lifting any excessively heavy loads without assistance from another employee or a mechanical lifting device.
  • Not perform work, enter the company’s premises (either on or off duty), or operate any employer-provided vehicle while impaired by any legal or illegal drug or alcohol.
  • Not engage in any act of workplace violence, including assaulting, fighting, making threatening remarks to, engaging in aggressive or hostile acts toward, bullying, intimidating, or harassing another employee or person.

Questions? Come hear OSHA itself go through required record keeping and other processes at the September breakfast program put on by Central Maine Human Resources Association. It is on September 18, at the Carriage House on Lisbon Street, with registration starting at 7:30 a.m. Register at: www.cmhra.org