8 Ways to Prepare for OSHA Inspections

Be ready before the inspectors arrive

An OSHA inspection can happen at any time, so it’s essential to always be ready. Knowing how to prepare your carwash for an OSHA inspection—and what to do if you receive an unscheduled visit— can make or break your success.

What is OSHA?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a simple but broad-based mission to “assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards and by providing training, outreach, education, and assistance.” If an OSHA inspector identifies health or safety issues, employers must correct them or face possible fines—or worse.

8 Ways to Prepare for an Inspection

Here are 5 tips to help you create your workplace safety plan and cut down workers’ compensation costs:

1. Assign a contact

Set up someone in your organization as the “point person” when an OSHA inspector comes to your door. That person needs to know where all company policies, procedures, and documents are located. For a carwash business with multiple shifts, it’s a good idea to train at least one or two managers to take on that role.

2. Schedule safety training

Ensure that every employee has completed the safety training that is required for their job function, as well as the general safety and security procedures that are unique to your carwash. This training needs to be kept up to date.

3. Perform hazard assessments

You are required by OSHA to conduct a hazard analysis for each type of job that will be performed in your carwash—from cashiers and office staff to workers operating machines and wiping down cars. You need to know what hazards exist for each job type and how to reduce their impact on employees.

4. Know the rules and guidelines

Everything you need to know about OSHA regulations is available online or by calling OSHA. But sometimes things change. Keep up with changes by checking back with the site and making it a part of your normal business review. Also, be sure that an official OSHA poster describing employee rights is clearly displayed in your carwash.

5. Keep good records

Good records can allow an easy inspection instead of a difficult one. Keep careful records of all policies and procedures, as well as the training courses your employees have completed. Make sure employees sign their names, indicating that they understand the safety policies; and if you have non-English speaking employees, make sure you have documentation that proves they understood your safety training. Have all documents, including training records, workers’ compensation files, insurance information, third-party risk assessments, and personnel files, available for the OSHA inspector to review.

6. Prepare an inspection kit

When an inspection happens, you might be caught off-guard. That’s why it is a good idea to have a few things set aside in an inspection kit to make the inspection easier on you. Your kit should include a pen, a notebook, a digital camera capable of taking video, measuring tools, and a flashlight. Your kit will allow you to follow the inspector and document their time at your carwash. This will make it easier to remember exactly what happened during the inspection, especially if you are not present for part or all of it. If you’re not onsite, have a manager or designated point person follow the inspector around.

7. Do your own risk assessments

Employers should consistently review paperwork to make sure everything is up to date and correct. They should also periodically check to ensure all required safety training has been administered and recorded. Scheduling periodic internal audits in which you walk through the facility and look for violations as if you were an OSHA inspector can also be an effective way of staying prepared and ensuring you are compliant.

8. Ask the experts

When it comes to preparing for an OSHA inspection, there are a lot of things you can overlook. That’s why it’s a good idea to consult with risk experts and conduct your own safety reviews regularly. Talk with your insurance provider about ways you can reduce your risk profile and better ensure your carwash is prepared for an inspection.

Top 6 Do’s and Don’ts in OSHA Inspections

In addition to following the 8 steps above, these strategic do’s and don’ts can further help you stay on top of your game in the event of an OSHA inspection.




Verify the compliance officer’s credentials. Inspectors must show you their credentials, which include a photograph and serial number.


Allow anyone to inspect your company without verification. If inspectors try to promote or sell products or services or attempt to collect money for penalties at the time of inspection, they are either impersonating inspectors or breaking the law.


Be honest with the inspector. If you don’t know the answer to something, tell them. Inspectors are trained to distinguish whether you are being truthful or not.


Lie to an inspector. Lying to an inspector lessens your credibility. And if inspectors suspect you are being untruthful, they may dig deeper.


Welcome the inspector onto your property in a timely manner. This shows that you are confident, professional, and cooperative.


Brush off the inspector and make them wait. If an inspector contacts you and requests to visit your business, make it your priority to meet them as soon as possible. If there is a noticeable delay, the inspector might think you’re hiding something.


Allow your employees to speak with the inspector. While holding your next safety meeting, bring up the topic that a visiting OSHA inspector may have a few questions and that a simple “yes” or “no” is fine, if the question allows. On the other hand, if a question asked by the inspector cannot be answered by a simple “yes” or “no,” the employee should answer as briefly as possible. Inspectors do not have the time to listen to extraneous or irrelevant information.


Discourage your staff from talking to the inspector. If an inspector gets the feeling that your staff has been told to not talk, the inspector can compel them to do so—even going so far as to issue a subpoena. If this happens, your inspection will become more aggressive.


Document everything. If your inspector takes pictures or videos to examine quality and safety, you should as well. They may also collect samples of air to verify exposure to toxic fumes, gases, dust, or other hazardous items. Be proactive, take good notes, and record every instrument reading.


Be dismissive. The details matter. Don’t miss any picture, video, or sample that your inspector takes. If your inspector brings up violations from pictures, videos, or readings, you can crosscheck with your data and make sure there aren’t any mistakes.


Correct violations before your inspector leaves. Follow up with a letter to address any other concerns they may have had.


Procrastinate. The sooner you can fix the smaller violations, the sooner you can move on to the larger issues. Your inspector will also have more confidence in you if you’re proactive and aggressive toward fixing your violations.

Readiness is key. Here are three essential takeaways:


  1. An OSHA inspection can happen at any time, and owners and managers should always be prepared.

  2. Review your business office, shop, vehicles, and yard on a monthly basis.

  3. Look for hazards and other safety issues, and make sure all of your employees understand current safety procedures.

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