Safety Blog Sign-up

Sign Up Now

Safety Speakers

Hazard Reporting App

Monthly Safety Topic

OSHA: Don’t Let Them Smell the Fear

It is common for people at all levels of the organization to flounder in fear when the dreaded words come, “I am with OSHA and I would like to conduct an inspection of your site.”  Like a wild animal, OSHA inspectors can smell the fear.  Fear of an inspection can only be controlled through preparation and understanding.  If your safety management process is working to prevent injuries and not just to comply with OSHA, your fears should be under control.
Imagine an inspector coming to your worksite and asking, “How do you handle reported hazards on your site?”


“Well, inspector, we fix it.”
“Show me an example.”
“What do you mean ‘an example’, we just fix it!”
“How do you confirm that the hazard is controlled to prevent exposure, communicated to potentially exposed personnel, fixed and then communicated back to the exposed personnel?”
“Well, I just send an email to the safety department and they handle it.”
You can see where this is going.  The individual being interviewed is going to begin digging a hole that is bottomless.  Soon the inspector says, “Take me to your (location like the machine shop, chemical storage, etc.).”  Ever heard the “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”  In this case, the inspector smells fear in the air and he may have to call in some help.  But a site inspection does not have to go this way.
Now imagine an inspector never getting to ask that question because the meeting began with a welcoming approach by company personnel and the correct questions that control the fear.  If you are prepared to show the inspector how your safety management process works to prevent every workplace injury and that you are open to suggestions to prevent workplace injury (and to avoid citations), the inspection might be pleasant instead of frightening.
A few tips for controlling the fear of an OSHA inspection are:
• Make sure that your safety process is in place and is working and that you and your personnel understand how it works.  Keep the process simple and avoid over-priced complex systems.
• Educate your personnel in basic “safety speak” so they can have a conversation with the inspector.
• Test your personnel’s ability to react to a surprise OSHA inspection.
• Work with a third party who can honestly assess your safety management process and can conduct mock surprise inspections to prepare your location.
Make the decision to take these steps so that an OSHA inspection is a pleasant experience.  The result will be that you have created a safety culture where your personnel can go home to their families every day without injury.


If you would like to discuss how Potter and Associates International, Inc. can help you control the fear of an OSHA inspection, call: 800-259-6209 to request a conference call to discuss your needs.


About the Author
Carl Potter is a Certified Safety Professional with more than 35 years of industry experience.  For the past 20 years he has helped many of his clients by consulting, facilitating, training and coaching them to improve their safety culture.  He works with his wife Dr. Deb Potter, PhD. and a collection of associates who have the experience and education required to meet his clients’ goals.  To learn more about Carl’s books, training materials, workshops and seminars.


2 Responses to OSHA: Don’t Let Them Smell the Fear

  • Dena Rogers says:

    I work as an cna an I have back issues that have gotten worse but no one at work my bosses seem to care. They seem like here trying to get me to quit what can I do?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *