Oh no! You’re working in Washington state and L&I just showed up to open a DOSH safety inspection.
If you’ve ever been pulled over or sent to the principal’s office, it feels about the same way and you’ll have some of the same thoughts, such as: “I wasn’t doing anything wrong!”, “Why are they picking on me?”, and “How much will this cost?”.
Before we get to the reasons why L&I is there, it’s important to remember our #1 rule for safety inspections – don’t panic! The inspector is a professional hired to do a job. There are many reasons he or she could be there, so don’t assume the worst. Just be professional and polite as you would with any other job site visitor.
Why are they picking on me?
When it comes to a job site inspection in Washington state, there are 5 main reasons why L&I will show up to inspect your work site or building. It can be as simple as your company name coming up on a random list or as serious as an immediate danger or an accident that has taken place. Let’s take a look at the list:
The Top 5 Reasons for a Workplace Inspection in Washington State
- Immediate danger – It’s not a myth – Inspectors really are authorized to stop and open an inspection on the spot if they see something dangerous while driving around the state. You can count on the inspector stopping if he or she notices something that could lead to a serious accident or fatality.
- Complaint/referral – Anyone can call the L&I hotline to file a complaint or report a concern. With this in mind, employees should be clear on how they can raise safety concerns internally and the job site should always be neat and tidy in consideration of neighboring property owners.
- Programmed inspection – Sometimes it really is just a matter of your number coming up on a given day. Programmed inspections happen more frequently in high hazard industries like construction, but any business can come up on a list that generates an inspection.
- Follow up due to a prior inspection – If your company was cited for a serious or willful violation during a past inspection, you can bet that L&I will be back around to make sure these situations have been corrected. Make sure to resolve anything that was raised last time, because fines go up for repeat violations.
- Accident investigation – Last but not least, this is the inspection that no responsible employer wants to have. Inspectors will be dispatched to any workplace accident scene if the incident results in overnight hospitalization or fatality. Remember, serious accidents like these need to be reported to L&I within 8 hours or your company will face additional fines. The accident site should also be secured and left untouched (except to aid the injured).
No matter the reason, remember rule #1 and be polite to the inspector. If you’re an Approach client, call us, as well, so that we can get started in assisting with the inspection or any follow-up concerns.