Health & Safety Insights

Why Does OSHA Do Inspections?

Matthew Nuckolls

Date: 6/26/2021

OSHA inspections are conducted without advance notice and can be conducted using on-site or telephone investigations. The inspections are performed by OSHA personnel called Compliance Safety and Health Officers (CSHOs). Inspections are based on the following priorities:

  • Imminent danger, or any condition where there is reasonable certainty that a danger exists that can be expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately or before the danger can be eliminated through normal enforcement procedures. OSHA gives top priority to imminent danger situations.
  • Catastrophes and fatal accidents resulting in the death of any employee or a hospitalization, amputation, or loss of eye.
  • Employee complaints involving imminent danger or an employer violation that threatens death or serious physical harm.
  • Referrals from other individuals, agencies, organizations, or the media.
  • Planned or programmed inspections in industries with a high number of hazards and associated injuries.
  • Follow-ups to previous inspections.

When an inspector finds violations of standards or serious hazards, OSHA may issue citations and fines. A citation includes methods an employer may use to fix a problem and the date by when the corrective actions must be completed. Depending on the type, individual violations can be as much as $132,598.

OSHA can cite the General Duty Clause when no specific standard applies to a recognizable safety hazard.

Employers have the right to contest any part of the citation, including whether a violation exists. Workers only have the right to challenge the deadline for when a problem must be resolved. Appeals of citations are heard by the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

OSHA is an agency charged with protecting workers from dangerous work. This is carried out through standards and regulations that employers must comply with. A strong enforcement program is in place to ensure employers do meet their compliance obligations. While complying with OSHA regulations can be a daunting task, particularly for small and medium-sized employers, there are many resources, tools, and services available. Contact a JJ Keller representative today on how we can assist in preparing you and your employees for your next OSHA onsite visit.

  1. Fall Protection, construction (29 CFR 1926.501) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  2. Hazard Communication Standard, general industry (29 CFR 1910.1200) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]]
  3. Respiratory Protection, general industry (29 CFR 1910.134) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  4. Scaffolding, general requirements, construction (29 CFR 1926.451) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  5. Ladders, construction (29 CFR 1926.1053) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  6. Control of Hazardous Energy (lockout/tagout), general industry (29 CFR 1910.147) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  7. Powered Industrial Trucks, general industry (29 CFR 1910.178) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  8. Fall Protection–Training Requirements (29 CFR 1926.503) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  9. Eye and Face Protection (29 CFR 1926.102) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]
  10. Machinery and Machine Guarding, general requirements (29 CFR 1910.212) [related OSHA Safety and Health Topics page]