OSHA inspectors will not routinely ask for the findings of safety audits voluntarily conducted by employers, according to a policy formalized by the agency after concerns were raised by a number of corporations.

A voluntary worksite evaluation will not be used against a company to justify a citation as long as a hazard found during an OSHA inspection has been corrected and steps have been taken to prevent its recurrence. Self-audits coupled with “good faith” efforts to correct existing hazards will allow employers to avoid a potential willful violation and also can result in reduced penalties, according to the policy.

“We want employers to find and fix hazards and not fear that we’ll use this information against them,” says OSHA chief Charles Jeffress.

Only in rare cases when an employers blatantly ignores or refuses to correct hazards that are likely to cause serious injury or death might OSHA inspectors use self-audits to support issuing a willful citation, according to Jeffress.

To prod more employers to voluntarily conduct worksite safety evaluations, OSHA’s policy also:

  • Expands the definition of self-audit to include evaluations conducted by a third-party;

  • Broadens the types of people who can conduct self-audits to include competent employees and management officials; and,

  • Allows employers to provide self-audit reports as evidence of good faith attempts to fix hazards.