Every OSHA inspection and every OSHA inspector is unique, and there’s no guarantee of what an OSHA inspector will be looking for, but here’s the list of 10 types of hazards OSHA will look for during an inspection. You can use this information to make your workplace safer now.

Hazard Type 1: Sources of Motion

You should look for hazardous, unguarded sources of motion. This includes rotating motion (circular motion), reciprocating motion (back-and-forth motion), and transverse motion (movement in a straight, continuous line). Places to look include around collars, couplings, cams, clutches, flywheels, shaft ends, spindles, meshing gears, and horizontal or vertical shafting. These hazards are made more serious when there are projections such as set screws, bolts, nicks, abrasions, and projecting keys or set screws are exposed on rotating parts. Watch for these in particular. Nip points are a particular hazard to watch out for.

Hazard Type 2: Sources of High Temperature

High temperatures that can burn workers or start fires are another thing that OSHA inspectors look for and that you should address. While investigating sources of high temperature, ask yourself why the temperature is so high. Is it normal, or is it a sign that a machine is in disrepair or a process is poorly planned? Controls to consider include machine guarding, PPE, and limiting employee exposure to high temperatures (to avoid heat stress and of course burns). And be sure that flammable materials, including combustible dusts, are not exposed to high temperatures.

Hazard Type 3: Sharp Objects

Blades, sharp edges, and more can cause serious cutting injuries to workers. Make sure blades and other sharp objects are properly guarded and that workers (a) have appropriate PPE, such as cut-resistant gloves, and (b) know proper work procedures when working with or near sharp objects. Remember to consider things like hand tools and even table saws when looking for these hazardous shop objects at the workplace.

Hazard Type 4: Rolling Objects (Crushing Hazards)

You should also look for rolling objects that can crush people and/or body parts, such as fingers, hands, toes, and feet. This can include objects that are intended to roll but also those that might not ordinarily roll except in cases when a control fails (this may be a good reminder to build in redundant systems of protection). Guarding, including secure barriers and pedestrian walkways, can be one type of control for this type of hazard. So can properly training workers of crushing hazards at your workplace and how to be safe while working near them.

Hazard Type 5: Harmful Dusts

Dusts can create several different hazards and may create harm in different ways. For example, some dusts are respiratory hazards, such as friable asbestos dust or airborne crystalline silica dust. And, on the other hand, other dusts are combustible hazards, as in combustible dust. Controls include preventing dust creation, preventing dust accumulation, ventilation, the use of respirators, keeping dusts from ignition sources, and more.

Hazard Type 6: Falling Objects

Falling objects can range from a poorly designed and constructed scaffold, to materials improperly placed on warehouse shelving units, to a hand tool dropped from an aerial work platform, or a heavy bag dropped through a floor opening to a level below. To control these hazards, try to eliminate the chance they can fall; use guarding and barriers; don’t let workers get underneath something that could fall; and use safety nettings and other similar protective devices.

Hazard Type 7: Slippery Surfaces

Slippery surfaces (and other slip, trip, and fall hazards) are one of the more common causes of accidents in the workplace, and in many cases they’re easy to avoid. To avoid getting dinged for slippery surfaces during an OSHA inspection, don’t allow surfaces to become slippery. This may involve re-engineering some of your current work processes, perhaps to redirect a slippery material that’s dripping onto a surface. You may also need to consider closing doors and windows, putting non-slip materials on walking surfaces; putting mats on floors; providing workers with special, high-traction footwear; and making sure procedures are in place for immediately removing slippery materials from walking surfaces.

Hazard Type 8: Chemical Exposures

There are any number of hazardous chemicals in workplaces. Hazardous chemical safety begins with identifying the hazardous chemicals at your workplace, making sure they’re used and stored properly, giving workers proper training about chemical hazards and how to work safely with chemicals (basic Hazard Communication training), ensuring workers have proper PPE for working with chemicals, having safety data sheets (SDSs) on site and having emergency showers/eyewashes as well as a defined emergency action plan for chemical spills and exposures, and more.

Hazard Type 9: Electrical Hazards

Electrical hazards are a common cause of workplace injuries and even fatalities. To avoid negative aspects of OSHA scrutiny, make sure your electrical wiring is done properly by qualified electricians. Make sure your company complies with OSHA’s general electrical requirements and with the NFPA 70E standard for electrical safety in the workplace. Make sure all wiring and machines are in proper working order and immediately take them out of service for repair when any problem is discovered. And don’t forget to give workers proper training on electrical safety general awareness, electric shock hazards, and arc flash safety.

Hazard Type 10-Schematic/Layout of Workplace

The schematic or layout of your workplace can cause any number of serious hazards. For example, it may cause ergonomic hazards or it may bring substances that are hazardous when in close proximity too close to one another.

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About the Author


Pete Nemmers

Pete Nemmers serves as NASP’s Director of Training Development, bringing a wealth of expertise to the organization. With a background rooted in safety and training, Pete plays a pivotal role in shaping the training programs offered by NASP. Pete ensures that NASP remains at the forefront of safety education, equipping professionals with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate and excel in the dynamic field of safety.