The purpose of safety inspections is to identify and correct unsafe conditions and work practices before an injury occurs. Identifying unsafe conditions relates to the physical environment hazards that may be present in the facility while unsafe work practices address human behavior, which can be influenced through effective training.
The specifics of your safety inspection will depend on the size and nature of the operation. There will be some similarities in exposures for all operations, but each will have their own unique set of risk elements. For instance, parks will have large outdoor areas you will need to include in outside inspections. Water and wastewater will have chemicals and lock-out tag-out issues as well as many others. We have checklists for many of the facilities and operations that involve the public entity.
It’s important to involve the employee in the inspection process, and safety committees are great for this. This collaboration will make employees feel valued and included. Promoting health and safety as a core value and empowering staff members to uphold these standards shows respect for their wellbeing and initiative. They’ll see that they are part of a team. The benefits of this team effort are so great that some people even count them as one of the reasons facility safety inspections are important for operations.
Look for easily observable hazards first, such as:
- Tripping hazards
- Blocked exits
- Frayed/exposed electrical wires
- Missing machine guards
- Poor housekeeping
- Poorly maintained equipment
During the inspection, talk to employees at their workstations. They likely to know the most about the hazards. Encourage conversation by asking open-ended questions such as, “What is the most hazardous task in your job? What makes it hazardous?” and “If you’ve been injured, what was the injury and how did it happen?” Another important part of an inspection is observing workers as they perform their job. Do they lift heavy objects? Do they stand/sit in awkward postures? Are they performing repetitive motions? If so, take notes and photos. Try to find solutions for hazards while you are conducting the inspection by applying your own creativity and inspiring the creativity of workers.
Soon after the inspection, prepare an abatement plan containing a list of the hazards found, corrective actions needed, who is responsible for the corrective measures and a timeline for implementation. Share the abatement plan with managers, supervisors and workers, and track progress by sharing or posting periodic updates to the plan.
Correct identified hazards in a timely manner. If the item poses an immediate threat of injury, then it should be corrected immediately. Submit any work orders required to “fix” the problem, and indicate it is a “safety inspection item.”
Monitor to make sure the identified safety item is corrected. Keep a copy of all completed inspections, including a list of the safety concerns identified, and a description of the actions taken to correct the problem.
Begin a program of self-inspection in your own workplace. Self-inspection is essential if you are to know where probable hazards exist and whether they are under control. For more information, please reach out to your Preferred Loss Control Consultant to help you with the process.