When OSHA Comes to visit
by Dan Scungio • June 18, 2019
As a phlebotomist, you no doubt are familiar with how to handle inspectors when they come to your area. If you work in a hospital or a laboratory, you have been a part of a CAP or maybe a Joint Commission inspection. You know to be polite, to do your best to answer any questions, and to find a helpful resource when you may not know the answer to a question. But can you be involved when an OSHA inspector comes to your facility? Absolutely!
If someone comes to your area and identifies themselves as an OSHA inspector, the first thing you need to do is request to see his/her identification. Believe it or not, there have been people who have impersonated OSHA inspectors! Your next step is to escort the properly-identified inspector to your manager or to your facility’s administration area. When OSHA is in the building, all facility executives need to be aware of it.
OSHA inspections are conducted by trained safety professionals, and they may come to your site for a variety of reasons with little or no notice. They may come to investigate a recent employee accident, or they may have been notified of a situation that causes imminent danger to employees. They may also be inspecting your site based on a complaint. OSHA also performs programmed, scheduled , or follow-up inspections of certain high-hazard facilities.
An OSHA inspection always begins with an opening conference detailing the scope and purpose of the inspection. You may not be involved in that conference, but you should receive communication from your facility about what to expect. The inspector will always be accompanied by a representative of your employer, and their next steps will be a walk-through of the inspected areas to look for safety hazards and to talk to employees. That’s where you become involved. The inspector may ask to speak to you in private or in front of others. Either way, you are expected to always be completely honest with your answers to questions. If you don’t know an answer, it is fine to say so.
An OSHA inspector can never suggest penalty amounts or collect money during their visit. They will conduct a closing conference with your employer to discuss their findings and let them know when to expect a written report.
Can you help your facility incur a fine? Can you help them reduce fines? Yes you can, and we will discuss that in more detail next month!
You can contact Dan Scungio, “Dan the Lab Safety Man” at [email protected].
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