Safetip #140: Review Inspection Checklists Regularly
Conduct Periodic Inspections
As part of a comprehensive Occupational Safety and Health program, you should conduct inspections to identify hazards associated to any activity, task, equipment, process, or material. Hazards should then be eliminated whenever possible or control measures should be put in place to mitigate risks of injury or illness caused by exposure to hazards. NIOSH’s hierarchy of controls can guide you on the most effective type of controls.
Following an initial assessment of hazards and risks (the likelihood of an injury or illness due to exposure to hazards) and the implementation of control measures, periodic inspections should be conducted to identify new or recurring hazards, assess risks based on changes to hazards or exposure levels, and confirm the effectiveness of controls. There should be different types of inspections, based on the type of process, specific job, equipment, work area or facility.
Inspection Checklists Should be Updated
Inspections are conducted by using checklists or questionnaires. An inspection checklist identifies the items, hazards and other things to look for, and is a guide for conducting the inspection. Each inspection type will have its own checklist, although the same individual items may be found in different types of inspections (e.g. if there are site- or operation-specific inspections, some items may be specific to each type of inspection, while others may be present in all).
Review inspection checklists regularly because processes, people, operations, equipment, materials and facilities can change, and changes can introduce new hazards or increase risks. With each review of a checklist, you should also correlate incidents with the pertinent inspection(s), because an incident may uncover a previously unknown hazard that is not included in the inspection checklist. The checklist should then be amended to add a new item to be inspected.
One important element to consider: While the review of inspection checklists can take place quarterly or bi-annually (e.g. before each regularly-scheduled inspection), if a severe accident occurs, it’s better to review the inspection checklist right away, make changes if necessary, and conduct an unscheduled, targeted inspection in case the same risk exists at other sites.
Finally, the use of inspection management software can make the review, maintenance and update of checklists much more convenient. In the software system, checklists are configurable to easily add or remove items, and you can also pick and choose items from a list to add them quickly to the checklist.
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