What do WISHA Inspectors look for?

(This is not meant to be an all-inclusive list, but should give you a good idea of the kinds of things they look for, and the kinds of questions they ask. From this list, you should be able to build an effective self-inspection program.)

Before they arrive at your place of business

They look at What they're looking for:

Your Industrial Insurance records

  • What is your company's injury rate compared to others in your industry?
  • What has caused injuries to your workers?


Your past record of compliance inspections*


[* NOTE: WISHA Compliance Inspectors are prevented from viewing any records from Consultation visits]

  • If your business has had any WISHA inspections in the past, what were the results?
  • Did you have any serious violations of safety and health rules?
  • Have you corrected those violations? Or do they still exist?



When they first arrive

They look at What they're looking for:

Are there unsafe conditions/actions visible from the street?*


(* If an inspection wasn't planned ahead of time, this may be why the inspector begins one.)

  • A "first impression" of what your operations are like before anyone realizes WISHA is there.


During the formal Opening Conference

They look at What they're looking for:

The identifying and address information on your company

  • Does the L&I data base have the current information?
  • If there is any follow-up correspondence from the inspection, will you receive it in a timely manner?


The 14 items on the WISHA Inspection Checklist

  • Are your employees provided the required information on the L&I Workplace Posters? (see the list)
  • Do you have copies of the WISHA standards that cover your workplace? (see Subsection 1A)
  • Who will represent your company's employees, and help provide the employees' point of view of your safety and health practices?
  • Does the inspector have to take any special precautions in your workplace? Do you use or produce any carcinogens?
  • Do you have a written Accident Prevention Plan (see Subsection 1C)?
  • Do you have any other written programs you may be required to have (see Subsection 1D)?
  • If your employees are required to wear respirators, do you have records of their training and fit testing?
  • Are you maintaining any other required medical records?
  • Are you maintaining any required training records?




During the Walk-around

They look at What they're looking for:

Machinery, equipment, power tools

  • Are all manufacturers' specifications for safeguarding, safe operation and periodic inspection being followed?
  • Have safeguards been removed or bypassed?
  • Are appropriate measures being taken to prevent injuries to employees? (see Subsection 1B -- Job Hazard Analysis)


Employees demonstrating -- and describing -- how they perform their jobs

  • Are they using the machinery, equipment or tools properly?
  • How were they trained to perform their jobs safely?
    • Can they describe their training?
    • Can they describe the hazards involved in the task, and what methods are being used to protect them?


Are chemicals (solvents, fuels, pesticides, cleaning supplies, glues, etc) used or produced?

  • What hazards are presented by chemicals?
  • How are employees protected against chemical exposures?
  • Are they properly informed of chemical hazards through your HazCom program?
  • Do you maintain a file of Material Safety Data Sheets where the employees have access to it? (see Subsection 1B)


Your first aid facilities.

  • Are there an appropriate number of first aid stations? Are they clearly identified? Readily accessible?
  • Do your employees know the names and locations of first aid trained people?
  • Can your employees describe what to do in case of injury?



  • Is an adequate supply of drinking water readily available?
  • Are toilets clean and accessible?


Your emergency eyewash facilities (if required)

  • Do they work properly?
  • Can employees get to them when needed? Or is there material stacked in front of them?


Your emergency evacuation plans

  • Are evacuation routes clearly marked?
  • Are they appropriately cited? (avoiding areas that would be hazardous in an emergency)
  • Are all of the employees aware of where the assembly point is located?


Is your Accident Prevention Plan (APP) "effective in practice"?

  • Do employees know where to find a copy of your APP?
  • Can they describe practices written in your plan?
  • Can they describe how to report unsafe conditions or equipment?
  • If you have a Safety Committee, can they identify their safety representative?
  • If you have Safety Meetings, can they describe what was discussed at recent meetings?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) used in your workplace

  • Is PPE only used where other means of safeguarding against hazards are not practical?
  • Are employees using PPE where it's called for?
  • Are they using it properly?
  • Is their PPE being properly maintained?
  • Can they demonstrate how to inspect it?
  • Do they know how and where to have it replaced?



At the formal Closing Conference

They will discuss In order to

Any hazards they observed, and how serious they were

  • Explain what they saw/heard, and what WISHA standard that violates
  • Let you provide any information to refute that a hazard existed
  • Determine if you've taken measures to discover the hazards
  • Determine if you have been taking measures to control those hazards
  • Explain to you that a citation may be issued for hazards, and that penalties may be assessed


How long you think it will take to eliminate any hazards

  • Establish a reasonable period of time for you to eliminate ("abate") the hazard
  • Ensure you will take appropriate actions to abate the hazards
  • Ensure you are clear on how to provide proof of having corrected any hazards



Back at the office

They will look at In order to

All of the notes and photographs they took during the inspection

  • Determine if citations should be issued for hazards:
    • Was the condition capable of causing physical injury or illness to employees?
    • Were employees actually exposed to the hazardous condition? Or were your safeguards sufficient to prevent it?
    • Is there a WISHA standard
    • Should you, with the "exercise of reasonable diligence" have known of the hazard?

Produce a written report of the inspection, and issue any citations that were appropriate.


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