It happens to every business sooner or later. Whether you run your own business or a large plant, at some point and time that usually catches us by surprise or off guard, they will show up. They are from your local health care agency, your local OSHA agency, another state regulatory agency, or your local fire agency. Yes, they are here to audit and inspect your facility and your compliance records for your facility. Unfortunately some of these people feel, speak, and act like they are the “cream of the crop”, or like they are “untouchable” or “walk on water”, take heart and don’t fear them, their uniforms, their vehicles, or business cards. Just because one of these persons shows up, doesn’t mean you have to let them audit and inspect your facility at that exact moment. Most regulatory agency regulations state somewhere and something that “if now is not a good time, or if the audit now would create some type of business hardship”, they will come back at another “proper, scheduled time” to conduct the audit/inspection.
Next time someone from one of these agencies shows up unannounced, courteously and professionally do the following:
- Let them know that “now is not a good time”, exchange business cards with them and let them know you will contact them in a day or two to schedule and set up a time that will work for both of you. Depending on the agency, if you are ready for them, schedule the appointment for as soon as you can within a day or two. If you know that you and your facility are not ready, try to schedule the appointment out for a week or two.
- Now that you have your scheduled and agreed upon audit date, get down to business. Put everything else on hold, gather all pertinent compliance documents and paperwork, clean everything physically and make sure all is neat and in order.
- Make sure all fire extinguishers gauge needles are good, (the green area of the dial, and not the section that says “needs charging”, or “over charged”. Wipe clean all extinguishers, make sure they are on their proper brackets, and are easily accessible – nothing obstructing them or making it difficult to get to them.
- Make sure all exits are clear and unobstructed, and properly signed or marked.
- Make sure all chemicals or flammable liquids are in your yellow compliant flammable liquids storage cabinet.
Most of what you need to do will be common sense and could be lots of work to get ready, but do what’s needed to have everything ready for your scheduled date and time. Anything you are not sure of, feel free to contact me, remember that they are also your “customer”, be courteous, kind, and helpful, it could go a long way in your favor!