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What triggers an OSHA inspection?

QUESTION: What triggers an OSHA inspection?

ANSWER: There are many different situations and events that can trigger an OSHA inspection. The death of an employee or a workplace 'catastrophe' that causes the hospitalization of three or more employees requires the employer to report the situation to OSHA. This triggers an investigation into the cause of the accident and an inspection to determine if there were violations of OSHA standards.

If OSHA becomes aware of an 'imminent danger' situation at a worksite, OSHA may conduct an inspection immediately, and may require that endangered employees be promptly removed from the workplace.

The OSH Act gives employees the right to anonymously call OSHA to report a concern about possible unsafe working conditions or violations in their workplace. Complaints about serious concerns may trigger an OSHA worksite inspection.

Other individuals, organizations, the media, or almost any source, also may make a referral to OSHA regarding any workplace hazard information they are aware of, causing the workplace to be considered for an inspection.

Rather than having a specific 'triggering event', some worksites are randomly selected for inspection under OSHA's 'Planned' or 'Programmed' inspection programs. Inspections may be aimed at high-hazard industries and occupations, those workplaces where employees may be exposed to toxic substances, or worksites with high injury and illness rate. OSHA's "Site-Specific Targeting Plan" is one of OSHA's primary planned inspections programs.

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