What to Expect from an Unannounced OSHA Inspection

The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA, is the federal government’s way of making sure that every workplace is a safe and healthy place to work. Are you properly prepared for an unexpected drop-in at your job site? What exactly does an OSHA inspection entail? It is so important to understand what is expected of you to maintain OSHA standards in the ever-changing construction industry. This blog will cover what to expect from an unannounced OSHA inspection.

How to prepare for an OSHA inspection

OSHA likes to do unannounced inspections to make sure every workplace is following all the rules to provide a safe and healthy environment. So, you always need to be prepared!

If an OSHA inspector shows up on your doorstep, here is what you can expect and prepare for:

First, you can require the inspector to obtain an inspection warrant or a search warrant before the inspection. Just as a matter of course, if you require a warrant, the inspection that follows will be more in-depth than if one was done without a warrant. At the end of the day, it’s your call if you require a warrant or not but it’s important to be aware of the risks going in.

What precautions do you need to take?

If you are properly prepared, an unannounced site visit should not be burdensome. Call us at the Cromeens Law Firm so we can help prepare you for all your OSHA needs in your workplace and answer any questions you may have about an OHSA inspection.

The first step of an OSHA inspection: the opening conference

The OSHA inspection begins with an opening conference where the inspector shows their credentials and explains the inspection procedure. Before the meeting begins, the inspector must wait until management or the person in charge of the company is present.

During the opening conference you will also: 

  • Review the complaint that caused the inspection.
  • Speak to your employees and designate employee representatives.
  • Limit the scope of the inspection to certain defined areas. 
  • Provide the inspector a copy of your written safety program, OSHA records, and logs. 
  • Show the inspectors your OSHA poster that is visible to all employees.

The OSHA inspection

 After the opening conference, the actual inspection will take place, during which the inspector will walk through the designated areas and take pictures and/or videos.

Follow these best practices during the inspection: 

  • Don’t leave the inspector alone—where they go, you go. 
  • Do not volunteer information. Only answer questions that you are asked and keep your answers as short and direct as possible. 
  • Only produce documents that are requested.  
  • Have someone with you that can fix any violations that are pointed out immediately. 

Attend our OSHA Webinar

Don’t forget to RSVP for our OSHA webinar on October 14 at 12 PM CST. We will provide an in-depth discussion on all OSHA updates and ways to best protect your business and workforce at this not-to-be-missed webinar.

The closing conference

After the inspection of all designated areas, there will be a closing conference. This is when the OSHA inspector will go over any violations they find.

What you need to do at the closing conference: 

  • Listen and take good notes of all of the violations mentioned by the inspector. 
  • Point out your company’s safety program and that a safe and healthy work environment is important to your company. 
  • Respectfully point out any obvious mistakes or disputed facts with the violations stated by the inspector. Don’t get in an argument. 
  • Give the inspector a plan for correcting the violations and include a realistic completion date. 
  • Keep in mind that the inspector is not bound by what they say in this meeting. They can issue a citation for something they don’t even talk about. 

It’s important to be aware that even after the closing conference, the inspector may or may not issue a citation. In the next blog article, we will cover what to do if you receive an OSHA citation. 


It is our job to provide you with the foreknowledge to best protect your business and workplace. We are here to answer any questions you may have about an OSHA inspection. If you are properly prepared, an unannounced site visit should not be burdensome. Know what precautions you must take before a visit ever happens and call your friendly OSHA attorneys at The Cromeens Law firm for more information on how to protect yourself on the front-end. We are here to help you create a healthy and safe environment for your employees.