Inspections are a way of systematically checking that your working environment and procedures are meeting the required standards. An inspection should identify hazards and be your first step in introducing measures to improve conditions. They can be formal, informal, recorded or unrecorded, but what is important is that they are carried out to a set standard, at an appropriate frequency.
Why are they important?
Inspections are a vital element of any safety management system. They should be used to determine whether you are meeting the standards you have set for your workplace and work activities. They are important because if you carry them out effectively, they will allow you to identify and remedy problems before they become more serious or result in an incident or accident.
Who is affected/most at risk?
Everyone who visits your workplace or is affected by your work activities could be at risk if you fail to identify an issue that could cause harm or damage.
What is the purpose of inspections?
Inspections are important as they allow you to:
- listen to the concerns of workers and supervisors
- gain further understanding of jobs and tasks
- identify existing and potential hazards
- determine underlying causes of hazards
- recommend corrective action
- monitor steps taken to eliminate hazards or control the risk (e.g., engineering controls, administrative controls, policies, procedures, personal protective equipment (PPE)).
How to plan for inspections
What to examine: Every inspection must examine:
- when, and how.
Pay particular attention to items that are or are most likely to develop into unsafe or unhealthy conditions because of:
- chemical reaction, or
Include areas where no work is done regularly, such as:
- parking lots
- rest areas
- office storage areas,
- and locker rooms.
Workplace elements to include: Look at all workplace elements – the people, the environment, the equipment and the process. The environment includes such hazards as:
- temperature, and
Equipment includes materials, tools and apparatus for producing a product or a service. The process involves how the worker interacts with the other elements in a series of tasks or operations.
6 types of hazards to look out for
- Safety hazards such as those caused by inadequate machine guards, unsafe workplace conditions, unsafe work practices.
- Biological hazards caused by organisms, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.
- Chemical hazards caused by a solid, liquid, vapour, gas, dust, fume or mist.
- Ergonomic hazards caused by physiological and psychological demands on the worker, such as repetitive and forceful movements, awkward postures arising from improper work methods, and improperly designed workstations, tools, and equipment.
- Physical hazards caused by noise, vibration, energy, weather, heat, cold, electricity, radiation and pressure.
- Psychosocial hazards that can affect mental health or wellbeing, such as overwork, stress, bullying, or violence.
What information will be required to complete an inspection report?
- Diagram of area
- Equipment inventory
- Hazardous product or chemical inventory
- Relevant checklists