Safetip #17: Basic Principles For Workplace Inspections
Workplace inspections help prevent incidents through the critical examination of workplaces. Inspections help identify all types of workplace hazards (biological, chemical, ergonomic, physical), leading to corrective actions.
Principles Increase the Effectiveness of Inspections
To make workplace inspections as effective as possible, it is helpful to establish and abide by a set of basic principles. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) has a very good list that you can use and that is composed of the following inspection principles:
- Draw attention to the presence of any immediate danger. Other items can await the final report.
- Shut down and “lock out” any hazardous items that cannot be brought to a safe operating standard until repaired.
- Do not operate equipment. Ask the operator for a demonstration. If the operator of any piece of equipment does not know what dangers may be present, this is cause for concern. Never ignore any item because you do not have knowledge to make an accurate judgement of safety.
- Look up, down, around and inside. Be methodical and thorough. Do not spoil the inspection with a “once-over-lightly” approach.
- Clearly describe each hazard and its exact location in your rough notes. Allow “on-the-spot” recording of all findings before they are forgotten. Record what you have or have not examined in case the inspection is interrupted.
- Ask questions, but do not unnecessarily disrupt work activities. This may interfere with efficient assessment of the job function and may also create a potentially hazardous situation.
- Consider the static (stop position) and dynamic (in motion) conditions of the item you are inspecting. If a machine is shut down, consider postponing the inspection until it is functioning again.
- Discuss as a group, “Can any problem, hazard or accident generate from this situation when looking at the equipment, the process or the environment?” Determine what corrections or controls are appropriate.
- Do not try to detect all hazards simply by relying on your senses or by looking at them during the inspection. You may have to monitor equipment to measure the levels of exposure to chemicals, noise, radiation or biological agents.
- Take a photograph if you are unable to clearly describe or sketch a particular situation.
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