Stop Blaming Employees to Avoid OSHA Inspection

Passing the buck is as old as man himself. Few of us are any good at taking responsibility for our actions when we can blame someone else. But if you want to avoid an OSHA inspection, it’s something your company has to step up and do. According to OSHA, companies that fill out accident reports and blame an “incompetent” employee are much more likely to get scheduled for an inspection than companies who accept the blame.

When you think about it this makes perfect sense. A company that blames the accident on the employee isn’t going to feel compelled to do anything to make sure a similar accident doesn’t happen. If I think you’re to blame for a problem than the solution to the problem lies with you, not with me. If, on the other hand, a company steps up and takes responsibility then they are also going to accept responsibility to correct the problem.

The truth is that it’s easy to put the blame on someone else but doing so blinds us to our own part in the issue. The employee might easily have done something stupid but if the company didn’t train him or her properly, if they didn’t keep driving the safety message home, if they didn’t consistently correct the employee when that employee was doing something in an unsafe way then the company certainly does deserve some, if not most of the blame.

When OSHA sees that a company is, in fact, accepting responsibility, it lets them know that this particular company is going to try to find solutions to keep similar problems from happening in the future.

The danger of such a blog post is that at least certain companies are now going to “accept blame” in order to avoid an inspection. The reality, however, is that if you are such a company, the truth will eventually come out. A company that does not “own” the safety of it’s employees is going to eventually come to attention of OSHA; such companies usually have repeated injuries. “Passing the buck” in an accident report just allows OSHA to get to you before another accident happens.

Step-by-Step Guide to OSHA Inspection

Do you know what to expect when there’s an OSHA Inspection? Do you know what your rights are? What you have to do and what you don’t have to do? Do you know the best way to proceed when OSHA inspectors show up?

If not, there’s a short 4-page document that you need to download entitled “The OSHA Inspection: A Step-by-Step Guide

This document, provided by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health, details your rights, your responsibility and more. Did you know, for example, that as an employee you have a right to request an OSHA inspection if you believe that your rights are being violated and that working conditions are not safe?

The paper details what you can expect before, during and after the inspection as well as what you can do to prepare for an inspection if you are given advance notice (It will also outline under what circumstances you’ll be given advance notice and when you won’t).

Download and read it now, before OSHA shows up because I’m not sure you’ll have time once they’re at your door.

Site Inspection Checklist

Your wife has a “honey do” list for you at home. You make a shopping list when you go shopping. You might even have a to do list at work.

The reason for “to do” and “Shopping” lists is simple, it’s so you won’t forget anything important.

So why not download and print out a site inspection list to make sure that the work site is in tiptop shape when OSHA does a surprise inspection. Here’s a great list of the different checklists that you might need provided by Oregon OSHA.


RIGHT-click the Word documents below and select “Save Target/Link As…”
to save them to your computer for editing.
Checklist name Word Word PDF PDF
Abrasive wheel equipment grinders Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Checklists for maintaining the foundation Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Chemical exposures Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Compressed gas and cylinders Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Compressors and compressed air Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Confined spaces: permit-required Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Cranes and hoists Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Electrical safety Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Elevated surfaces Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Emergency action plan Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Employer posting Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Environmental controls Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Ergonomics: computer workstations Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Ergonomics: general Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Exit doors Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Exits (Access and Egress) Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Fire protection Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Flammable and combustible materials Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Floor and wall openings Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Hand tools and equipment Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Hazard communication Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Industrial trucks Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Infection control Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Ladders: portable Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Lockout and tagout Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Machine guarding Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Materials handling Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Medical services and first aid Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Noise: hearing conservation Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Personal protective equipment (PPE) Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Piping systems: identification Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Recordkeeping Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Safety Committees and Meetings Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Split rim and multi-piece wheel tire inflation Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Spray finishing operations Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Stairs and stairways Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Tools and equipment: portable power-operated Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Transportation: employees and materials Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Ventilation for indoor air quality Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Walkways Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Welding, cutting and brazing Word iconWord PDF iconPDF
Work environment: general Word iconWord PDF iconPDF

Ladder Inspection

If you’ve got ladders, you need to inspect them, it’s as simple as that.
Unsafe ladders cause injuries and potentially fatalities as well.
Develop a step-by-step inspection procedure for each and every time you use the ladder.
Make sure your employees have the procedure sheet and that they checkoff each item and sign the document.

Here’s a great checklist that you can download from CPWR, the Center ofr Construction Research and Training.

Fall Protection Inspection Forms

If you’ve got fall protection equipment it is imperative that the equipment be inspected each and every time you use it to make sure it isn’t damaged and that it will perform well if and when it needs to.

In order to make the process as painless as possible, as well as to have adequate record-keeping, having a checklist form is usually the best way to go.

I’ve put together the three following checklist forms that you can download and print out to walk you through this task:

  • Full body harness inspection form

  • Lanyard Inspection Form

  • Self-Retracting Lifeline Inspection Form

You can view and download all three of these inspection forms on the fall protection section of our e-commerce website at (You see all three titles in red in the box at the top of the page, along with the other documents available there. By the way, “The Basics of Fall Protection” document has just been updated to reflect the new standard, so download that as well if you don’t have the latest updated version).

Point-by-Point Harness Inspection

Your fall protection harness is one part of a whole system designed to keep you from hitting the ground if and when you fall. As such, you need to make sure that it isn’t damaged, ripped or torn in some way to make sure that it will resist the force of the fall.

DO NOT assume that your boss, the tool room guy or your supervisor has inspected the harness for you. It isn’t their life that’s on the line, it’s yours. It is your responsibility to examine and inspect the harness each and every time you put it on. Here’s a step-by-step guide to inspecting your harness.

  1. First, check all the webbing for frays, cuts, tears, burns or any other damage. Bending the webbing helps to show any surface damage. Pay special attention to areas that are stained and discolored as this might be the result of some chemical that may damage and break down the fibers of the webbing.
  2. Inspect all the hardware. Make sure that there are no cracks, however small, in any of the metal.
  3. Make sure that the hooks and gates function properly.
  4. Check the tongues, buckles and clips. Make sure that all grommets are secure and that they aren’t frayed, worn, stretched or missing.
  5. Make sure that all D-rings and rollers do not have any rough or sharp edges
  6. Finally check all rivets and stitching to make sure that the harness is still safe to wear. Pull on webbing joints to make sure that they are strong.

Follow this step-by-step procedure each and every time you don your harness. It’s your life that’s on the line.