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Quick Q&A: Will OSHA Use My Documentation Against Me?

Toby Graham /

Clients frequently ask, “Can my own OSHA documentation be used against me?” In 2000 OSHA released a formal policy addressing the issue. Here’s what it says:

“OSHA will not: 

  • Routinely request self-audit reports at the initiation of an inspection,  
  • Use self-audit reports, (including 3rd party reports), as a means of identifying hazards upon which to focus during an inspection.  

Where a voluntary self-audit identifies a hazardous condition, and the employer promptly undertakes appropriate measures to correct the violative condition and to provide interim employee protection, but has not completely corrected the violative condition when an OSHA inspection occurs, the Agency will treat the audit report as evidence of good faith, and not as evidence of a willful violation of the Act.” 

OSHA does not want to discourage you from completing or documenting inspections.

That being said, there is a scenario that the policy does not address:

When an issue is documented as needing correction, but a fix has not been implemented.

It is imperative that dangerous issues that are brought to your attention are addressed immediately. OSHA does not suggest that all issues can be remediated immediately, but instead suggests you take interim action to prevent accidents until the hazard can be fully remediated. 

For example, hazardous equipment may be taken out of service, or dangerous areas may be marked “No Entry.” 

While KPA can’t guarantee that your records won’t be used against you by OSHA we can tell you that in KPA’s experience not having any records is far worse.

KPA consultants have tons of experience working with OSHA inspectors (some filled their shoes themselves!) Got more questions regarding OSHA inspections and internal compliance audits we’re happy to answer them.

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