How Does OSHA Inspect All Workplaces?

September 17, 2014

Unfortunately, with the limited resources of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), it is not possible for it to inspect the nearly 8 million workplaces it covers every year. To handle the high number of inspections, OSHA prioritizes its inspections and monitoring based off the most dangerous workplaces.

Below is how OSHA prioritizes inspections from most important to least important:

  • Situations with imminent danger—OSHA will always focus on workplaces with hazards that could cause death or serious injury.
  • Fatalities and catastrophes—incidents involving the death of an employee or injury to more than three employees are given priority next.

Can Employees File a Complaint with OSHA Anonymously? 

  • Complaints—if employees allege workplace hazards or violations, OSHA will make this the next priority. It is important to note that employees may make a complaint to OSHA anonymously.
  • Referrals—similar to the complaints mentioned above, referrals are third-party observations of hazardous or unsafe work environments. This includes safety complaints from federal, state or local agencies individuals, and the media.
  • Follow-ups—after a company is cited for safety violations, OSHA will conduct follow-up inspections to make sure the hazard is taken care of and that the company is operating safely.
  • Planned or programmed investigations—OSHA conducts regular investigations of certain workplaces or high-hazard industries. Additionally, jobsites that have high rates of illnesses and injuries are incorporated into regular inspections.

OSHA has an important job of ensuring that employers are keeping their employees safe. An employer can be held liable for injuries or deaths that occur due to an unsafe work environment.


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