Many contractors fear an inspection from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, but it doesn’t need to be that way. OSHA is there to keep you and your workers safe, and it’s in your best interest to comply with their standards.
One way to combat this fear is to get ahead of the issue—arm yourself with information before an inspection happens. That way you aren’t caught off guard and know what to do when OSHA comes to inspect your roofing business.
We’ve gathered everything roofers need to know to make it through an OSHA inspection.
OSHA Roofing Guidelines
Before we dive into surviving an OSHA inspection at your roofing business, let’s take a look back at why OSHA matters. OSHA is meant to ensure safe working conditions for Americans by providing research, information, and training.
Keep in mind that roofing is a dangerous job. From 2003 to 2013, more than 3,500 individuals died from a fall in the construction industry, and about 34% of those falls were off of roofs.
Roofers encounter many hazards on the job daily, including:
- Steep heights
- Power tools
- Extreme temperatures
As you go through an OSHA inspection, it can feel like you’re being attacked or targeted. Instead of feeling defensive, try to remember that they’re there to protect workers and enforce regulations that prevent injury and death.
How to Prepare for an OSHA Inspection
Safety managers at your roofing company should always work with key stakeholders within the business to ensure everything is up to code. Additionally, it’s important for teams to be aware of OSHA standards and what happens during an inspection.
Hold regular safety training sessions with workers. In these meetings, go over the role of OSHA’s regulations and what happens during an inspection. Normally, OSHA conducts their inspections without notice. It’s crucial to prepare for them ahead of time.
Do’s and Don’ts During an OSHA Inspection
What Not to Do During an Inspection
- Don’t deny the certified safety and health official (CSHO) an inspection. Although you have the right to deny an inspection, it likely won’t look good.
- Don’t lie to the CSHO. Never speculate—speak only to your knowledge.
- Don’t volunteer information or admit a violation. Be careful when answering questions and thoughtfully consider your answers before speaking. Ask follow-up questions if you are confused by the phrasing.
- Don’t try to clean up conditions during the inspection. If the CSHO has already noted it, then cleaning it up does nothing to prevent a citation. Additionally, on-the-spot cleaning may draw the CSHO’s attention to the potential violation.
What to Do During an Inspection
- Do stay calm and collected.
- Do treat the CSHO with respect and common courtesy. They are a visitor to your business and should be treated as such. However, this also means their visit shouldn’t interfere with scheduled roof work.
- Do take detailed notes and photos as the CSHO completes their inspection.
- Do know your rights. Management cannot be interviewed alone by OSHA. A representative or another manager must be present. However, OSHA can interview employees privately.
After the Inspection
The inspector must have a closing conference with your company and employee representatives when they complete the inspection. During the meeting, OSHA will go over what they call “apparent violations” and discuss how to correct hazards, deadlines for the process, and possible fines.
Once the CSHO finishes the inspection, they will work on completing the case. It could take a few days or a couple of months to hear back from the CSHO; it depends on the officer’s caseload and other factors. But the deadline to issue citations is within six months following an inspection.
OSHA will mail any citations to your office. While OSHA has several months to issue a citation, contractors only have 15 days following a citation to contest it, attend an additional conference, or pay the fine.
Survive Your OSHA Inspection
It’s understandable to dread your inspection. Remember to know your rights, be honest, and take notes. With those key things in mind, you’ll be able to get through your OSHA inspection with minimal issues.
Has your roofing company had a surprise OSHA inspection? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below.