Define, Set and Follow Basic Principles for Inspections
It’s Not Just About Schedules and Checklists
Workplace inspections help to identify hazards, risks and process weaknesses. Inspections can be general and affect all risk areas in an entire facility, or they can be targeted and focus on a specific risk area (e.g. lockout/tagout, hazard communication).
Organizations should have a plan and schedule of inspections to conduct in the course of a year. They should also set the criteria that would trigger an unscheduled inspection (e.g. an incident with a specific level of severity). In addition, there are different checklists that are used based on the type of inspection.
You have your annual schedule of inspections, and all your checklists are locked and loaded in an inspection software system and mobile app. This means you’re ready to inspect, right? Not exactly. It’s also helpful to define basic principles throughout your organization, and to follow them when conducting inspections.
Make Inspections More Effective
Establishing and following basic principles ensures that inspections are effective and successfully identifying hazards or risks that may exist. The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety has a great list of principles that you can use as a starting point to define your own principles. Here it is:
- Draw attention to the presence of any immediate danger. Other items can wait the final report.
- Shut down and lock out any hazardous equipment 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 doesn’t know what dangers may be present, this is cause for concern. Never ignore any item because you don’t have knowledge to make an accurate judgement.
- Look up, down, around and inside. Be methodical and thorough. Don’t spoil the inspection with a “once-over-lightly” approach.
- Clearly describe each hazard and its exact location. Allow “on-the-spot” recording of all findings before they’re forgotten. Record what you have or have not examined in case the inspection is interrupted.
- Ask questions, but don’t unnecessarily disrupt work activities. This interruption 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.
- Consider factors such as how the work is organized or the pace of work, and how these factors impact safety.
- 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.
- Don’t 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 picture or video if you’re unable to clearly describe or sketch a particular situation.
Finally, use a mobile inspection app to empower workers to complete inspections from anywhere and at any time, even while working offline. The mobile app can also include user guidance that can be leveraged to make sure the principles are followed.
Each week we publish a Safetip where we share a safety tip or best practice that contributes to safety excellence. Visit Enablon Insights again next Wednesday for a new Safetip!