Regulations  >  OSHA Inspections and Compliance Checklist

OSHA Inspections and Compliance Checklist

osha compliance and inspection checklist

Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 provides guidelines for ensuring workplace safety for employees and the environment. To ensure compliance, OSHA also conducts periodic inspections to ensure compliance.

osha compliance and inspection checklist

What is the OSHA inspection checklist?

An OSHA inspection is carried out by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to identify potential hazards, evaluate safety protocols, and verify that employers provide their employees with a safe and healthy work environment. These inspections are typically unannounced and can occur in response to complaints, referrals, severe accidents, or as part of a programmed inspection targeting specific industries or high-risk workplaces.

During an OSHA inspection, an authorized OSHA representative, a Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO), visits the workplace to conduct a thorough assessment. The goal is to identify potential violations of OSHA standards and regulations, such as inadequate safety measures, improper use of personal protective equipment (PPE), lack of training, or failure to maintain proper records.

OSHA inspectors or employers use an OSHA inspection checklist to systematically assess compliance and safety practices within a workplace. The checklist guides ensure that critical areas and requirements are thoroughly evaluated during an inspection. The OSHA inspection checklist typically covers many safety-related aspects, such as hazard communication, emergency response plans, machine guarding, electrical safety, fire prevention, personal protective equipment (PPE), training programs, record-keeping, and more. It helps inspectors or employers ensure that all necessary safety measures and regulatory requirements are in place and being followed.

Using an OSHA inspection checklist can assist employers in proactively assessing their workplaces, identifying potential areas of non-compliance, and taking corrective actions to address any deficiencies.

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Why is OSHA inspection important?

Over the years, OSHA guidelines have continuously adapted to address the evolving dynamics of the work environment. In addition, employers are required to comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act. By following the recommended OSHA practices, employers and business owners recognize the importance of these safety guidelines as they provide the following benefits:

OSHA guidelines have evolved over the years to meet the changing dynamics of the work environment. Employers must also comply with the General Duty Clause of the OSH Act. By adhering to the recommended OSHA practices, employers and business owners understand the need for these safety guidelines as it helps:

  • Create a safe work environment that prevents injuries, illness, or even death in the workplace
  • Overcome financial suffering and hardship that has an impact on the workers, family, or even the employers
  • Improve morale at the workplace
  • Help build a favorable brand image among customers and suppliers
  • Lower employee attrition rate

OSHA upholds the safety of the workforce through the following methods:

  • Inspections
  • Severe Violator Enforcement Program
  • Whistleblower Program

However, OSHA has only 2,000 inspectors to monitor the 8 million employers and 130 million workers under its jurisdiction. Therefore, it conducts inspections only under the following circumstances:

  • Imminent danger situations
  • Fatalities and catastrophes
  • Complaints registered by employees
  • Referrals from other agencies
  • Follow-up inspections for worksites previously found to be in violation of OSHA health and safety standards
  • Planned or programmed investigations of targeted industries or areas

This makes OSHA inspection assume extra significance. But it need not be. By creating an OSHA inspection checklist and diligently adhering to it, you can minimize the chances of an OSHA inspection.

What are the main parts of the OSHA inspection?

There are three parts to OSHA inspection – opening conference, walkaround, closing conference.

osha inspection first step - opening conference

Opening Conference:

This is the first step in the inspection where the compliance officer will explain:

  • The reason behind the inspection

  • Scope of the inspection

  • Walkaround procedures

  • Employee representation

  • Employee interviews

Once the officer explains their part, a representative selected by the company accompanies the officer through the inspection. The compliance officer can speak with other employees as part of the inspection.

osha compliance second step - walkaround


As the actual inspection starts, the officer and the representatives walk through the workplace, inspecting for violations that could lead to employee injury or illness, any reported worksite injury and illness records, and the posting of the official OSHA poster. Any apparent violations that can be corrected immediately are pointed but cited in the report as part of the inspection. The officer is bound to keep witness of trade secrets confidential.

osha inspection third step - closing conference

Closing Conference:

Once the walkaround inspection is complete, the compliance officer holds a closing conference to discuss the findings. The agenda includes discussions about possible courses of action an employer may take following an inspection, such as an informal conference with OSHA, contesting citations, and proposed penalties. The compliance officer and employer, along with the representatives, also discuss consultation services and employee rights.

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What does OSHA look for during an inspection?

OSHA inspectors, called compliance safety and health officers, primarily conduct on-site inspections and phone/fax investigations to ensure companies comply with OSHA requirements. OSHA inspections are focused on the following:

  • Potential hazards, hidden in apparently safe areas of the work and equipment that are deemed harmless
  • Causes for any complaint from employees, organizations, other agencies, and the media that triggered the inspection
  • Causes for serious injuries and fatalities
  • High-risk jobs

Organizations with 10 or fewer employees are exempted from unannounced OSHA safety audits.

Best ways to pass an OSHA inspection

To ensure that the inspection process is completed successfully, follow these simple steps:

  • Establish a process to be followed in case of OSHA inspection. The process must include an employee representative who will be accompanying the inspector during the walkaround.
  • Maintain proper records as part of OSHA guidelines. Documentation of workplace incidents, CAPA, and other workplace safety-related records are important to pass OSHA inspection.
  • Answers all questions with accuracy without ambiguity. Vague answers do not sit well with the inspectors. Cite answers with proper reasoning and explanation without getting too technical.
  • Address issues as quickly as possible by establishing a possible timeline and CAPA that is achievable. Ask any questions if needed to understand better the shortcomings mentioned in the audit.
  • Provide training programs based on the latest rules and regulations.
OSHA inspcetion checklist to pass inspection
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Top 10 OSHA inspection checklist to ensure compliance

OSHA's primary objective is to ensure organizational compliance and safeguard employees from immediate dangers. To enhance worker safety and well-being, OSHA provides the following recommendations:

  • Prioritize safety and health by informing employees that their well-being is a top priority. Management should verbally assure employees and promptly address any potential hazards that could jeopardize workplace safety.

  • Lead by example by integrating safety into daily conversations and consistently practicing safe behaviors.

  • Establish a robust reporting system to comply with OSHA regulations and enhance workplace safety. Implement an efficient procedure for workers to report illnesses, injuries, incidents (including near misses/close calls), hazards, and safety concerns.

  • Conduct comprehensive worker training programs that equip employees to identify and manage hazards. Utilize resources like OSHA's Hazard Identification Training Tool to aid in this process.

  • Utilize OSHA-recommended checklists to perform internal inspections of equipment and materials to ensure their proper functioning.

  • Seek input from workers through interviews to develop a hazard control guidebook that safeguards the work floor against potential dangers.

  • Foster worker involvement by delegating the implementation of hazard control measures to employees. Assign them responsibilities related to selecting, implementing, and evaluating solutions.

  • Develop contingency plans and conduct drills to evaluate their effectiveness in emergencies.

  • Consult with workers when introducing new equipment or materials to identify safety or health concerns proactively.

  • Incorporate safety and health issues into all meeting agendas to address and improve upon existing practices.

What specific areas does the OSHA inspection checklist cover?

Some of the key areas it addresses include:

  • Hazard Communication: Ensuring proper labeling of hazardous substances, availability of safety data sheets (SDS), and effective communication of chemical hazards to employees.
  • Electrical Safety: Evaluating the proper use of electrical equipment, presence of grounding, electrical panel accessibility, and adherence to electrical safety standards.
  • Machine Guarding: Verifying the presence and effectiveness of machine guards to prevent employee contact with hazardous machine parts.
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):b> Assessing the availability, proper use, and maintenance of required PPE to protect employees from workplace hazards.
  • Emergency Preparedness: Reviewing the presence of emergency response plans, evacuation routes, fire extinguishers, and first aid supplies.
  • Ergonomics: Evaluating workstations, lifting practices, and ergonomic controls to minimize the risk of musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Record-Keeping: Assessing the maintenance of accurate safety records, including injury and illness logs, training records, and inspection reports.
  • Safety Training: Verifying the implementation of effective safety training programs for employees, including hazard recognition and emergency procedures.
What specific areas does the OSHA inspection checklist cover

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osha inspection requirements

OSHA requirements which apply to most general industry employers

OSHA guidelines are primarily focused on the safety of the employees. Other industry players can also take a cue from these guidelines and incorporate certain basic procedures such as:

  • Management leadership
  • Workplace participation
  • Hazard & Identification assessment
  • Hazard & prevention control
  • Education & training
  • Program evaluation & improvement
  • Communication and coordination with contractors, and staffing agencies

How does CQ's OSHA inspection checklist ensure workplace safety?

CQ's OSHA inspection checklist helps employers to proactively evaluate their work environments, identify areas of non-compliance, and take appropriate actions to mitigate risks and improve safety protocols. CQ's OSHA inspection checklist covers a wide range of specific areas to evaluate workplace safety comprehensively.

CQ's OSHA inspection checklist ensure workplace safety

Ensure workplace safety for employees and the environment with CQ's inspection processes and checklists to stay compliant with OSHA and create a safe work environment that prevents injuries, illness, or even death in the workplace

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • ComplianceQuest is an environment, health, and safety solution provider with decades of experience and expertise in the area of safety. Our solutions are aligned to OSHA and cater to a wide range of industries, including:

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  • A solution such as ComplianceQuest’s Safety, Health, and Environment management system, harnessing cloud-based’s power, scalability, and flexibility, enables you to:

    • Design: Build exhaustive processes, workflows, and checklists to manage workplace safety interventions.

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    • Act: Take action based on predictive analytics and a proactive mindset.

    • Improve: Take corrective or preventive action as needed in a timely manner.


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