A compliance officer represents OSHA and is expected to demonstrate his/her knowledge and expertise in the safety and health field in a courteous and professional manner. Prior to the inspection, the compliance officer will become familiar with as many relevant facts a possible about the workplace, such as:
The inspection history of the establishment,
The nature of the business, and
The particular standards that might apply.
This preparation provides the compliance officer with a knowledge of the potential hazards and industrial processes that may be encountered and aids in selecting appropriate personal protective equipment for protection against these hazards during the inspection.
When the OSHA compliance officer arrives at the establishment, he or she displays official credentials and asks to meet an appropriate employer representative. An OSHA compliance officer carries U.S. Department of Labor credentials bearing his or her photograph and a serial number that can be verified by calling the nearest OSHA office. Employers should always ask to see the officer's credentials.
OSHA compliance officers may not collect a penalty at the time of inspection or promote the sale of a product or service at any time; anyone who attempts to do so is bogus and the FBI or local law enforcement officials should be contacted immediately.
In the opening conference the compliance officer explains how the establishment was selected and determines whether it will be subject to a comprehensive safety inspection. The compliance officer also will ascertain whether an OSHA-funded consultation program is in progress or whether the facility is pursuing or has received an inspection exemption; if so, the inspection may be terminated.
The purpose of the visit, the scope of the inspection, and the standards that apply are explained and the employer is given copies of applicable safety and health standards as well as a copy of any employee complaint that may be involved (with the employee's name deleted, if the employee has requested anonymity).
An authorized employee representative also is given the opportunity to attend the opening conference and to accompany the compliance officer during the inspection. If the employees are represented by a recognized bargaining agent, the agent ordinarily will designate the employee representative to accompany the compliance officer. Similarly, if there is a plant safety committee, the employee members of that committee will designate the employee representative (in the absence of a recognized bargaining agent).
Where neither employee group exists, the employee representative may be selected by the employees themselves, or the compliance officer may determine if any employee suitably represents the interest of other employees. Under no circumstances may the employer select the employee representative for the walk-around.
An employee representative does not have to be present for each inspection. However, where there is no authorized employee representative, the compliance officer must consult with a reasonable number of employees concerning safety and health matters in the workplace