Imminent danger situations are top priority. This means there is “reasonable certainty that a danger exists that can be expected to cause death or serious physical harm.”
Catastrophes and fatal accidents are OSHA’s next priority. If an accident results in a death, you have 8 hours to contact OSHA. If an accident results in one inpatient hospitalization, an amputation or the loss of one eye, you have 24 hours to contact OSHA.
Complaints and referrals are the third priority. An employee complaint to OSHA
of unsafe or unhealthy working conditions or referrals from most any source about a workplace hazard will likely result in an inspection.
Programmed inspections, where an officer just shows up at your door, are fourth priority. This does not mean that programmed inspections are unimportant. OSHA has about 3,600 inspectors nationwide and uses them to have the most impact.
Follow-up inspections occur to make sure problems have been corrected.
Also, OSHA has Special Emphasis Programs that target certain industries.