OSHA Inspection Checklists

Keep workers safe and ensure OSHA compliance with a digital tool

OSHA inspection

Published 5 Aug 2022

Why is OSHA Inspection Important?

The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act) was passed to prevent workers from being killed or seriously harmed at work. This law created the Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assure safe working conditions, by setting and enforcing standards. OSHA also provides information, training, and assistance to employers and workers.

Under the OSH Act, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace. Through the use of OSHA compliance checklists, employers and employees can help each other identify hazards, minimize risk, and improve overall safety in the workplace.

This article briefly discusses the following:

OSHA Self Inspection Checklist

OSHA self-inspection checklists generally indicate items that aim to meet requirements, enforce industry standards, or implement best practices in compliance with the established regulatory agency. Self-inspection checklists differ per organization, but there are a lot of ready-to-use templates that businesses and stakeholders can also utilize as guides such as this collection of OSHA self-inspection checklists.

What Does OSHA Look for During an Inspection?

OSHA inspections generally focus on and prioritize workplace sites or areas that are considered the most hazardous. In the same vein, the agency keeps an eye out for potential hazards that are often overlooked, especially in areas of the workplace that are deemed safe and on equipment that are considered harmless. Complaints received from employees, organizations, other agencies, and the media receive elevated attention and often trigger spontaneous OSHA safety audits. Serious injuries and fatalities, especially, must be reported to OSHA immediately. Based on this data, OSHA determines whether or not certain jobs or industries are hazardous or high-risk. These high-risk jobs are prioritized by OSHA and have a high chance for more frequent, and often random, inspections. On the other hand, organizations with 10 or fewer employees need not worry because they are exempted from random OSHA safety audits.

All businesses, regardless of industry should have safety as their top priority. OSHA inspections should be treated as safeguards to safety precautions already in place, not as threats to scare organizations into creating an effective safety culture. Knowing what to expect from an OSHA safety audit and going through the preparation process will help an organization reduce accident rates, review existing safety protocols and promote job safety.

What are the 3 Parts of an OSHA Inspection?

During an inspection, the OSHA inspector may ask some preliminary questions; it’s vital that a company representative answer these questions as truthfully and accurately as possible. Even if uncertain of the overall safety of the organization, it’s advisable to let the inspector continue as scheduled. Trying to delay an inspection will raise red flags and will prompt the OSHA inspector to come back and conduct a more comprehensive inspection.

An OSHA inspection is divided into three main parts or phases:

Opening conference

All OSHA safety audits start with the inspector detailing the purpose of the inspection and how it is to be conducted. If triggered by a complaint, this is where copies of the formal complaint are presented. Inspections may include employee interviews, which could be done privately or in the presence of managers, depending on the preferences of the employee.

Facility walkthrough

The OSHA inspector will walk through the facility and take notes and photographs for documentation. The company can choose an employee representative to be present during the walkthrough, but it is not required. Inspections are not limited to any one worksite, regardless of whether or not it was based on a specific complaint. Finding a violation in open view will prompt an OSHA inspector to expand the inspection with the permission of the company.

Closing conference

After a thorough walkthrough of the facility, the OSHA inspector should share findings during the closing conference, including any violations found or unsafe areas or practices observed. Employee representatives should review the inspector’s recommendations and correct any deficiencies.

The OSHA inspection checklists consist of the following sections:

  • Employer posting
  • Recordkeeping
  • Safety and health program
  • Medical services and first aid
  • Fire protection
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and clothing
  • General work environment
  • Walkways
  • Floor and wall openings
  • Stairs and stairways
  • Elevated surfaces
  • Exiting or egress-evacuation
  • Exit doors
  • Portable ladders
  • Hand tools and equipment

The above are the first 15 sections. You can view and/or print the complete OSHA inspection checklist for free here. Feel free to check other OSHA checklists on our public library.

What to Include in Your OSHA Inspection Checklist?

The elements of an OSHA inspection checklist depend on its main purpose. There are plenty of industry-specific checklists that you can use as a guide, but you have to make sure that they would help you comply with the safety standards set by OSHA for your business and industry. OSHA checklists are often broken down into smaller sections that enable you to inspect work areas in a more detailed manner.

Below are some questions you can include in your checklist:

Medical Services and First Aid

OSHA checklists mostly include safety and health-related information. Some of the questions you can ask are the following:

  • Is there a hospital, clinic, or infirmary for medical care accessible from your workplace?
  • Are first aid kits approved by a physician to indicate that they are adequate for use?
  • Are medical personnel readily available for consultation when needed?
  • Are emergency phone numbers posted in visible areas?
  • Are first aid kits easily accessible to each work area and replenished as needed?

Fire Protection

Aside from being part of OSHA inspection for facilities, it is generally a best practice to ensure that your business has good protection and procedure in case of fires. Consider including these questions in your checklist:

  • Can the local fire department easily access your facility’s location in case of emergencies?
  • Is the fire alarm system certified as required and tested annually?
  • Are fire doors and shutters in good working condition?
  • Are the control valves, air, and water pressure of the automatic sprinkler system checked periodically?
  • Are portable fire extinguishers in accessible locations, are of adequate number, and correct type?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Clothing

It is also a generally good practice to ensure that your business always observes the wearing of proper protective equipment when needed. Some of the PPE-related questions you can ask are:

  • Are there work tasks/activities that require the use of PPE?
  • Are protective goggles or face shields worn as needed?
  • Are hard hats provided and worn where there is a danger of falling objects?
  • Are all PPE regularly cleaned and maintained in a sanitary condition?
  • Are both employers and employees trained on PPE procedures?

How to Pass an OSHA Inspection

Establishing a strong workplace safety culture ensures that you need not worry about random OSHA safety audits. It would not hurt, however, to always be prepared so you know how to pass an OSHA safety inspection. The following tips will help make inspections as seamless as possible:

Establish a process.

Random inspections are not so random when you know what to do when an inspector shows up. Establish a procedure to be followed in case of OSHA inspections so that employees are prepared. Assign a representative to meet the inspector and accompany him or her while doing the facility walkthrough.

Keep necessary records at hand.

Inspectors would want to look at your records so it’s important to keep them organized and accessible. The most important thing, however, is to ensure that you’re keeping complete and accurate records so that you’re prepared for random OSHA safety audits and to maintain safety compliance.

Answer all questions as accurately as possible.

OSHA inspections can make employees nervous and make them afraid to say the “wrong” things. Feeling apprehensive is natural, but it’s important to instruct employees that honesty is the best policy during an inspection. Withholding information will backfire and have dire consequences for the organization.

Address issues as soon as possible.

The inspector will point out violations and possible citations; don’t wait for the official citation and address issues immediately after the OSHA safety audit. If you see any other problems not covered in the inspection, address those issues as well. You’re also free to ask the inspector questions so you know how to address specific problem areas.

Provide the necessary training programs.

OSHA regulations can change through time so it’s important o keep abreat of the latest rules and policies. Provide appropriate training, safety program or establish safety regulations to employees and update safety materials and policies regularly. OSHA compliance is easily maintained if everyone in the organization knows what to do and how to do it.

Complete OSHA Compliance Checklists on Your Mobile Device

Create your own or download a template below. From OSHA Eye Wash Station Inspection Checklists to Daily Forklift Inspection Forms, you can use a tool like iAuditor to help complete and enforce your regular inspections, quickly and easily.

Generate and View Reports

Create transparency through your organization by creating and sharing PDF reports quickly and easily. Get real-time data to help identify health hazards that need attention, and track improvements over time.

Case Study: Level 10 Construction

The 181 Fremont project is an 800 ft., 54-story high-rise that will become the second tallest and most unique building in San Francisco’s financial district. Level 10 Construction’s goal was to complete the building on time, on budget and most importantly maintain the quality and safety of the structure and people who work on the project. Read more case studies.

Reduce occupational risks with OSHA safety training

OSHA safety training is essential for businesses to maintain a safe work environment and avoid compliance slip-ups. All workers that are regularly exposed to an array of occupational hazards must be equipped with a working knowledge of safety rules and regulations set by OSHA in order to cut down the risk of illnesses or injuries. A regular OSHA safety training program also creates an opportunity to spot potential hazards throughout the workplace, and also examine previous incidents to prevent them from reoccurring. Engaging in safer health practices not only protects a company’s bottom line but also ensures that the safety and security of everyone in the workplace are prioritized.

A myriad of OSHA safety training courses has been available online to cater to all busy workers and allow them to take and complete the training at their own pace. Our list of OSHA safety training courses covers important topics such as equipment safety, asbestos awareness, confined space construction risks, and fall protection guidelines.

SafetyCulture staff writer

Carlo Sheen Escano

Carlo Sheen Escano is a contributing writer for SafetyCulture based in Makati City, Philippines. Sheen has experience in digital marketing and has been writing for SafetyCulture since 2018. His articles mainly discuss risks in the workplace and well-known safety and quality processes used to mitigate them. Furthermore, Sheen is passionate about providing insights to global customers on how technology can help them to do the best work of their lives.

Carlo Sheen Escano is a contributing writer for SafetyCulture based in Makati City, Philippines. Sheen has experience in digital marketing and has been writing for SafetyCulture since 2018. His articles mainly discuss risks in the workplace and well-known safety and quality processes used to mitigate them. Furthermore, Sheen is passionate about providing insights to global customers on how technology can help them to do the best work of their lives.