Guess Who Is Inspecting Now? – Jackie Smith

Over the last few years, as small business owners, we have found many governmental agencies rearing their heads in the quest of any additional revenue they can find. We have been inspected by city, county and state entities that we may not even know existed.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA or CAL/OSHA) usually conduct site inspections in cases of industrial accidents. A fatal injury, a serious injury of three or more employees will trigger an investigation. Employee complaints will also put you at the top of the list.

However, in talking with other dry cleaners, we are finding that CAL/OSHA is conducting random inspections. It is important to know what they are looking for and how to prepare for an inspection before they show up at your door.

CAL/OSHA is responsible for enforcing California laws and regulations pertaining to workplace safety and health and for providing assistance to employers and workers about workplace safety and health issues. Actually, they can be your friend and an agency that can be very helpful.

CAL/OSHA provides a service in which you can call them and ask them to inspect your business for an on-site consultation. This inspection is at NO cost to you. This will result in no citations, fines or penalties. You just have to fix any hazard they find! However, if there is a blatant violation, you will be required to correct the problem immediately. To find out more about the free inspection, go online at

When and if a CAL/OSHA inspector shows up unannounced, it is wise to allow them to come in and inspect your business. Employers have the right to require compliance officers to obtain an inspection warrant before entering a worksite. This immediately turns the situation into an adverse situation, which you do not want.

Accompany the inspector at all times. Answer any of his questions honestly. Don’t guess or offer an opinion. Do not joke with him/her. Conduct yourself as you would at any other business meeting.

What will they be looking for? They will ask you for your log of work-related injuries and illnesses. I would assume you probably do not have such a log. You are a small business with few employees but it’s the law that you must implement and maintain such a log. The CAL/OSHA recording keeping website is It does not have to be elaborate but you need to have one.

As an employer, here are some of the other requirements:

• Make sure employees have and use safe equipment and properly maintain this equipment

• Use color codes, posters, labels or signs to warn employees of potential hazards

• Establish or update operating procedures and communicate them to employees

• Make available on a timely and reasonable basis a Material Safety Data Sheet (MTDS) on each hazardous substance in the workplace

• Post, at a prominent location within the workplace the CAL/OSHA poster informing employees of their rights and responsibilities

A safe workplace benefits everyone. If you are prepared when the CAL/OSHA inspector shows up, the experience will be less stressful. So please be prepared


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