An Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspector is an individual who makes sure companies are following all federal rules and regulations regarding workplace safety. The job entails visiting workplaces, reviewing documents, interviewing key individuals, and writing reports. If there are violations, the OSHA inspector is often responsible for making sure those are taken care of in a timely manner. The inspector may also assess fines based on the findings.
An OSHA inspector may be called to do an investigation based on a number of different scenarios. In some cases, work accidents involving a fatality or serious injury prompt the investigation. In other cases, the OSHA inspector may be there based on an employee complaint, or perhaps just doing a routine investigation as part of planned program the agency has implemented.
Once on the scene, the OSHA investigator introduces himself or herself to a representative of the company. In the initial meeting, the OSHA employee will tell the company representative the reason for the inspection, the scope of the inspection, how long it will take, and the methods the inspector plans on using. This meeting is critical to building a trust relationship with the company, though the relationship may remain adversarial to a certain extent.
Once the initial meeting is completed, the OSHA inspector will generally do a number of different things. If there is a need to review records, the inspector may do that next. Eventually, the OSHA inspector will also take a tour of the facility, known as a walk-around inspection, simply to get a general idea of the operations and layout. The inspector will also interview employees, especially those who may have knowledge of violations.
After these general observations and tasks are completed, the OSHA inspector often moves on to a more specific inspection of any alleged violation, if one exists. The inspector may examine the area in question, or look at equipment. This site inspection may not be as important to the OSHA employee as the employee interviews, especially if modifications were already made to the site or the equipment.
Once the initial inspection is completed, the OSHA investigator usually returns to his or her office and begins to analyze the collected data, which will eventually be included in a report. If violations are found, these will be reported to the company in another meeting, often called the closing conference. There, the investigator will tell the company what changes are needed and possibly what fines, if any, are being assessed. The OSHA inspector will follow up to make sure the changes are made within a specified period of time.