If you’re a facility regulated by the department, then at some point, you will receive a visit from one of our air, water or waste inspectors. This can be a nerve-racking experience for many; but there are things you can do to prepare and feel comfortable when visited by one of our inspectors.
First, all inspections follow a standard procedure. Each inspection begins with an opening meeting where inspectors will review records, facility layouts and ask questions about facility operations and processes. Following the opening meeting, a walk-through of the facility will be conducted. The inspector may ask questions about company processes and practices, as well as take pictures. In some instances, an inspector may take samples of soil, water or waste materials. Finally, the inspection process ends with a closing meeting. The inspector may summarize the findings, but often inspectors cannot give a complete report that day. In that instance, the inspector will detail the paperwork procedures from the inspection and when to expect the inspection report.
To better prepare for and deal with an inspection, here are a few tips:
- Be prepared. Read your permits and stay current on all recordkeeping activities and facility operations, especially any planned expansion, down-sizing or equipment changes.
- Routinely walk around your facility and compare operations with those that are permitted. Conducting routine audits help keep you and your staff updated on any changes.
- Train and talk to staff about compliance. Compliance is not one person’s responsibility, but is the responsibility of everyone. By increasing awareness and understanding, the staff takes an active role in compliance.
- If you are unsure about a permit requirement, ask the permit writer, your local inspector or compliance assistance staff to clarify.
- Make sure that there are at least two people who know where all records are kept and someone at the facility who knows how to contact you immediately or can accompany the inspector if you are not around.
- Make sure all environmental records are easily accessible and up-to-date.
- When an inspector arrives, be cooperative.
- Accompany the inspector at all times to ensure safety for everyone involved.
- Don’t be shy: ask the reason for the inspection. It could be a complaint, routine inspection or a part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency initiative.
- Ask questions if you do not understand something in your inspection report or during the inspection.