Manage Your Outside Inspectors – Excellent Advice From Former ex-OSHA Inspector

Every company is subject to many and various outside inspectors who regularly visit their locations. These inspectors are from the: insurance company, fire department, government safety agencies (e.g. OSHA), and even the corporate headquarters.

These many inspectors have great power and can: levy fines, increase insurance premiums or cancel your policy, generate mandatory fix-it recommendations that can cost lots of money to implement, and even impact your performance review. As the safety manager it’s your job to present your location in a favorable light, and to do what you can to reduce any adverse impact the inspection might have on your company.

Most inspectors have a lot of latitude as to how vigorously they apply their standards.  Please remember that these inspectors are people, just like you and I.  And as people, they can be influenced (for good or for bad) based upon how you treat them.

When I was going through the “Initial Compliance Course for Safety Officers” at the OSHA Training Institute I was told that if a company ever gives you a hard time and refuses an inspection, just get a search warrant and return and make “the most thorough inspection that you have ever made”.  Believe me, it does not pay to make an inspector angry.

Having been an “outside inspector” for decades, I found that I would usually “give companies the benefit of the doubt” and “give them a break” if they treated me nice.  It’s just human nature.

Here are a few easy things you can do to influence outside inspectors in a positive way:

  • if you know that they are coming in advance, put their name and title on your “welcome board” in the lobby
  • smile when you first see them and shake their hand
  • offer them their beverage of choice at the beginning of your meeting
  • good housekeeping goes a long way to making a good first impression, make sure that your plant is spotlessly clean for their inspection – if needed, get everyone to clean up their work area while the inspector is in the front office for the opening conference
  • convince the inspector that your company and its top management cares deeply about employee safety and health, introduce them to the head person at your location and make sure the inspector hears that directly from their lips
  • if you deal with others at the inspectors’ organization, praise their performance
  • during the inspection assertively point out recent safety improvements
  • during the inspection try to avoid areas where you believe they will likely find problems
  • thank them for any advice or recommendations that they make
  • if you disagree with a recommendation, do not argue, but instead point out what else you have done to protect employees against that hazard
  • before they leave thank them for their time and insure them that their recommendations will be promptly followed up on

This article retrieved from Safetyawakenings.com

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