Safety and health inspections conducted periodically are an essential element in the control and elimination of hazards at work sites. While a competent and aware workforce is the best ongoing protection against accidents and injuries, inspections can provide a concentrated focus on overlooked hazards and potential problems.
It is important to make sure that everyone involved in a safety inspection knows why it is being conducted and is clear on the inspection’s objectives. Areas of focus for an inspection could include:
- Ensuring compliance with OSHA or other legal requirements
- Motivating the team to make safety on the job a priority
- Identifying areas of undue risk and high loss potential
- Providing safety training
- Reinforcing past training and skill development
- Identifying and developing positive safety attitudes
- Improving job processes and procedures
Safety inspection checklists can help ensure that important issues and elements are not overlooked. The OSHA’s Small Business Safety and Health Handbook (Manual de Seguridad y Salud para Empresas Pequeñas) provides a fairly comprehensive collection of checklists. Effective checklists should address past problems, industry standards and an organization’s already established safety practices and procedures. While checklists can be very helpful, everyone involved in safety and health inspections should be trained to question all potentially unsafe situations in addition to what is specifically on the checklist.
Conducting periodic safety and health inspections is an effective way to reduce or eliminate workplace hazards, provide safety awareness training and ensure workforce commitment to safe work practices.