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What happens during the walkaround portion of an OSHA inspection?

QUESTION: What happens during the 'walkaround' portion of an OSHA inspection?

ANSWER: OSHA's Compliance Officers, along with the employer or employer representative, and the designated employee representative, will walk through the areas of the worksite that are to be covered by the inspection. The specific route they take through the facility, and the length of time they spend inspecting, is determined at each facility by the Compliance Officers. Even if the inspection is resulting from a complaint about a specific area, the inspection may cover all of the facility. Any violations found in open view of the Compliance Officers during the 'walkaround' may result in the inspection being expanded.

The areas chosen by the Compliance Officers for inspection will be checked for health and safety hazards that could possibly lead to an employee becoming ill or injured. The Compliance Officers will also observe safety and health conditions and practices in the facility. They may take videos and photographs in the facility, collect air samples, check noise levels and other instrument readings, and survey engineering controls. They may also monitor employee exposure to toxic fumes, gases or dust in the facility.

During the 'walkaround', the Compliance Officers may choose to stop and privately interview employees in the facility about the safety and health practices and conditions in their worksite. They will check to see that OSHA's posting requirements have been met. OSHA's Form 300 must be properly posted, as well as OSHA's poster explaining employee health and safety rights. The Compliance Officers will inspect the methods the employer uses to inform employees of hazards if there are any hazardous chemicals on site.

During the 'walkaround' the Compliance Officers may point out violations that could be corrected immediately. When employers show good faith by promptly correcting hazards, Compliance Officers record the employer's efforts at prompt correction and penalties may be reduced for some types of violations.

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Tags: OSHA walkaround, OSHA inspection, OSHA labeling