Regular safety inspections are common in almost every industry, both public and private. They ensure compliance in your workforce and are an important component of a risk prevention strategy.
Usually, inspections take place annually or bi-annually. They may be performed by a worker, a safety officer, or an external auditing team.
Here are some best practices you should follow when conducting a safety inspection in your workplace.
Keep Updated Safety Inspection Records
When an accident takes place, one of the first things that gets checked is the safety inspection records.
You may have heard of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 that went missing in March, 2014. One of the first things that was checked following this incident were the maintenance logs, the safety inspection records, and other technical safety information. It's great that things don't go wrong too often, and that when they do, there are records to help us find out why.
Having up-to-date safety records is even more important in some industries and occupations because of the volatility and changing environments that they are subject to, but it is important that you have a safety inspection preparation plan, regardless of your industry or occupation.
Take Responsibility for Safety
Safety is everyone’s responsibility. Whatever your position, you should not let others in the office or in the field take care of the safety inspection guidelines, since you could be putting your job on the line if you are in the dark regarding the safety expectations.
Make sure that you know all of your expected safety protocols, what you could be measured on during an inspection, and how to prepare.
(See Are You an Office-Bound Safety Professional? It's Time to Step Away from the Desk for related reading.)
Put Yourself in the Safety Inspector's Shoes
The best way to prepare for a safety inspection is to change your hat. In other words, pretend that you are the safety inspector and inspect yourself. It is important to use a non-biased approach to your inspection, as if you really are an external inspector conducting it.
First, find any records relating to previous inspections. Have the problems identified been remedied? Have any of the risks on the list been mitigated or fixed? What steps were taken to correct them?
If risks are still present after being identified on the prior inspection, you should make sure you have the reasoning as to why they are still present, and if they are ongoing risks, try to eliminate them. One of the biggest things that can net a poor grade on an inspection is carelessness and failure to implement prior suggestions. So, make the necessary corrections from the prior inspection, or get supporting material as to why the suggestions were not implemented.
During your self-inspection, document the results as thoroughly as possible using a non-biased perspective without taking anything for granted or passing judgment. The self-inspections should be done by everyone because people have different perspectives on hazards and safety, and it will help everyone get familiar with the process and give them a chance to be responsible for a safe environment.
The self-inspection is usually a walk around that documents hazards, changes to the workplace, and solutions implemented over time and should include:
- Fire safety handling
- Safety emergency and evacuation plan
- Hazardous material disposal and storage
- Wastewater discharge
- Electrical safety office ergonomics
- General safety hazards
- Signing of the visitors' safety sheet
- Safe work plan
Review the Records
Each industry and occupation will have a specific set of guidelines to assist in the preparation and planning for safety inspections, so ask your boss or co-workers to get a copy of the previous inspection records and review them for yourself to ensure that you are aware of the items being assessed. Not only will this help you become more safety-conscious, but it will also help you prepare for an inspection. Inspections are not always announced. Often in the event of an accident, inspections are conducted immediately. If anything is out of place, then it could cost you your job.
(Learn about 12 Things to Do During an OSHA Investigation.)
The Power of Self-Inspections
It is important for you to become more aware of the items that are being assessed. Doing a self-inspection will put you in the boots of a safety inspector, and help you visualize unsafe items during your walk around. Do the walk around, document your results, use your results in conjunction with any prior records, and you will be well on your way to achieving safety success. Not only can this safety exercise be fun and exciting, it can also help give you a new perspective on your job and industry!
Sample Safety Inspection Checklists
Don't have a safety checklist? Try this free sample list or use it as a guide to creating your own.