What should be included on a safety inspection checklist?

By Safeopedia Staff | Last updated: March 18, 2024
Employee in hard hat and respirator inspecting part of an industrial facility while holding a clipboard.
Source: drazenphoto (Envato Elements)

Checklists are a simple but highly effective safety tool.

Using a checklist during safety inspections is a good way to ensure that:

  • Workplace conditions are checked thoroughly
  • The inspection process is carried out efficiently
  • Records are kept of working conditions and safety practices

And while putting together a checklist might seem very straightforward, it’s easy to leave out something essential. So, here are four elements that should be included in every safety checklist.

1. Recordkeeping Information

The top of your checklist should include all the information that will be needed for proper recordkeeping:

  • Name of the person who carried out the inspection
  • The specific location of the inspection (jobsite, building, area of the facility)
  • Date and time of the inspection
  • Acting supervisor at the time of the inspection

That information might not seem all that important when you’re working through the checklist, but it becomes critical if the checklist is needed at a later date. If you’re involved in an audit or a court case, you’ll be grateful for these key details.

2. A List of Everything That Needs to Be Inspected

What gets included in this list will be highly specific to each location. Every worksite is unique, so no two safety checklists are entirely alike.

But generally speaking, it can include items like:

  • Are employees wearing adequate hearing protection?
  • Are the saw blades sharp and attached securely?
  • Has the workspace been swept and kept organized?
  • Are the exits unobstructed?
  • Are all containers sealed and shut properly?
  • Are machine guards in place and in good condition?

Other lists might be specialized and include more specific items. For instance, a fire safety checklist might include:

  • Is the fire extinguisher pressure gauge at an acceptable level?
  • Are the sprinkler heads clean?
  • Are paths to the fire exits clear and unobstructed?
  • Is the evacuation map posted and clearly visible?
  • Are the smoke detectors tested and functional?

The items on the checklist should be phrased as simple questions with Yes or No answers. This helps you avoid ambiguous items like “Check fire extinguisher,” which leave some of the details up to the individual’s di


When creating the list, it’s important to be thorough. A checklist with only five items isn’t all that useful and will likely result in hazardous conditions being overlooked.

Make the list foolproof by including every step of the inspection, even if some of the items seem like common sense. It might look like a lot, but that’s the point of using a checklist to begin with – to guide the process, step by step.

To keep a longer list manageable, group the items under separate categories, like PPE, Equipment Safety, and Housekeeping.

3. Checkboxes

Next to each item, include a set of checkboxes.

Without a box to check, the items will simply get crossed off. While that’s better than nothing, it’s not as useful as it could be. Same with having a single checkbox.

Instead, have two columns of checkboxes, one labeled “YES” and one labeled “NO.” Having a NO column instead of just leaving the YES box unchecked will make it obvious at first glance that some issues have been found. No need to scan the list slowly and carefully, because any tick in the NO column is cause for concern.

A third row for “N/A” can be included in case any items on the list aren’t applicable or can’t be inspected for whatever reason. This can be useful if the same checklist will be used in different locations. It can also come in handy when, say, a power saw can’t be inspected because it has been sent out for repairs.

4. A Space for Comments

Simply checking NO next to an inspection item doesn’t provide enough information. The person completing the checklist should have room to specify the issue they noted – not just that some aspect of the work environment failed the inspection, but why it did and how serious the issue is.

Leave a space for any context or details that might be relevant as well. For instance, if inspecting an outdoor jobsite or the exterior of a facility, there should be room to note whether it was raining on that day.

Ready to learn more? Check out our free webinar: Unlock the Full Potential of Behavioral-Based Safety Observations!

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Written by Safeopedia Staff

Safeopedia Staff

At Safeopedia, we think safety professionals are unsung superheroes in many workplaces. We aim to support and celebrate these professionals and the work they do by providing easy access to occupational health and safety information, and by reinforcing safe work practices.

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