From time to time, food industry establishments are subject to inspection by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or its state counterparts. The results of an OSHA inspection can lead to civil fines, adverse publicity, abatement proceedings, and, in some cases, criminal proceedings. It is, therefore, of the utmost importance to be familiar with OSHA's authority and inspection procedures.

Many unsuspecting companies become entangled in the complexities of routine OSHA inspections. From the 4th quarter 2010 through 4th quarter 2011, bakery product manufacturers received 562 citations from 115 inspections, paying $1.67 million in federal fines. Eating establishments were cited 333 times, and paid out almost $442,000 to the federal government. And, grocery stores were caught with 77 OSHA violations, resulting in fines in excess of half a million dollars.

The Food Institute and OFW Law recently completed an up-to-date inspection manual, which provides critical knowledge for action before, during and after an OSHA inspection. This must-have reference guide details the rights and responsibilities of employers, employees and OSHA compliance officers. Available in print and PDF versions, the OSHA Inspection Manual, 4th edition, serves as an invaluable source and can be purchased by clicking here or by calling Sue Antista at 201-791-5570, ext. 212.