Craftsman's Cribsheet

OSHA Inspection Priorities

How does OSHA decide to inspect a workplace? OSHA prioritizes inspections based on the following criteria:

1. Imminent danger situations—Hazards that could cause death or serious physical harm receive top priority.
2. Fatalities and catastrophes—Incidents that involve a death or the hospitalization of three or more employees.
3. Complaints—Allegations of hazards or violations.
Referrals—from other federal, state or local agencies, individuals, organizations or the media receive consideration for inspection.
4. Follow-ups—Checks for abatement of violations cited during previous inspections are also conducted by the agency in certain circumstances.
5. Planned or programmed investigations—Inspections aimed at specific high-hazard industries or individual workplaces that have experienced high rates of injuries and illnesses also receive priority.

For more on these inspection priorities, consult the OSHA Fact Sheet:

You can intelligently manage your company’s risk of OSHA enforcement and penalties by asking yourself these three questions and then doing something about them:

  • Do you have a process for managing safety?
  • Is it followed?
  • Is it effective?

As employers, we have a general duty to maintain a safe workplace. Let’s take our duty seriously. You know the folks from OSHA will.

Additional Resources:
OSHA Field Manual :
OSHA Employers Rights :
OSHA Top Ten Most Frequently Cited Standards: