Safetip #120: Conduct Safety Walkarounds
Identify Hazards and Communicate with Workers
A new fact sheet from OSHA provides guidance to help managers conduct safety walkarounds to identify workplace hazards and communicate with workers. OSHA says that there are two main reasons why managers should conduct walkarounds periodically:
1) Show management’s commitment to improving workplace safety and health.
2) See for themselves how a safety and health program is working and whether it is effective in identifying and eliminating hazards.
Safety walkarounds also allow managers to assess how key elements of the safety program are working and to help answer the following questions: How engaged are workers in the program? Do workers feel they have received appropriate training? Do they know how to report an incident or concern?
Tips for a Successful Safety Walkaround
The fact sheet emphasizes that preparation is important before conducting a walkaround. Managers should take time to familiarize themselves with the workplace and operations, and hazards that were previously identified. Pre-walkaround activities include:
- Identifying the most hazardous areas by examining past inspection reports, worker compensation records, incident investigation reports, and recent near misses. The walkaround should focus on areas where the most hazards have been identified.
- Talking to safety representatives and other managers or supervisors about their safety observations and concerns.
- Meeting with the safety committee to get their perspective on the most important safety issues.
Another great way to prepare is by creating a walkaround checklist for managers, which can be accessed and used in a mobile app for inspections.
While conducting the safety walkaround, managers should:
- Lead by example and wear the right PPE for each area they enter.
- Limit the size of the inspection group to make sure that open communication with workers is not negatively impacted.
- Look for easily observable hazards (tripping hazards, blocked exits, etc.).
- Look for property damages because they may indicate a potential for future worker injuries.
- Talk to workers at their work stations.
- Seek out and talk to the most recently-hired workers to get their perspectives on safety. They could offer valuable insights because they’re new on the job and have “fresh eyes”.
- Observe workers as they perform their job.
- Try to find solutions for hazards during the walkaround. Finding solutions “on the spot” demonstrates a commitment to safety.
- Make a list of issues that need to be addressed before completing the walkaround. The same mobile inspection app used for the walkaround checklist, can also be used to record issues on the spot.
There are also post-walkaround activities that must take place, and which we’ll cover in next week’s Safetip.
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