Workplace inspections are critical and effective strategies for reducing the risk of hazards and preventing incidents, injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. When conducted properly, inspections can not only identify existing and potential hazards but also determine the underlying causes. Workplace inspections also provide opportunities for leadership to gain feedback from workers and supervisors, allowing decision makers to gain a deeper understanding of jobs and tasks and how to maintain a safety culture. Because inspections have proven to be effective at reducing or eliminating hazards and controlling risks in the workplace, you should be ensuring you’re doing them right. Here are the do and don’ts for workplace inspections.
Do involve workers in the inspection process.
Workers are often the best source of information about hazards and risks in the workplace because they’re the ones facing them each day and are most likely to recognize when there are gaps in the process or issues with the equipment. Involving them in inspections can help build buy-in and ensure that inspections are thorough and effective.
Do use a systematic and structured approach.
Using a consistent and systematic approach to inspections can help ensure that inspections are thorough and that results are reliable and comparable.
Do document the inspection process and results.
Clear and accurate documentation is critical for tracking progress and identifying trends and patterns.
Do follow up on identified issues.
Effective inspections include follow-up procedures to ensure that any identified issues have been addressed and were resolved in a timely manner.
Do communicate the results of inspections to workers and other stakeholders.
Sharing the results of inspections with workers and other stakeholders can help emphasize the value of conducting regular inspections.
Don't conduct inspections haphazardly.
For inspections to be effective, they need to be conducted systematically and consistently without being rushed. Random or infrequent inspections may not be thorough or reliable and may not identify all hazards and risks.
Don't skip areas or items.
Pencil whipping undermines the process and takes you away from your goal of achieving a healthy and safe work environment for all. Thorough inspections cover all areas and equipment, and skipping items or areas may result in missed hazards and risks.
Don't rely on memory alone.
Inspections are repetitive to the point that inspectors may feel they have them memorized. However, accurate documentation is critical for tracking progress and identifying trends and patterns, so don't rely on memory alone when conducting inspections.
Don't ignore identified issues.
Identified issues should be addressed right away – before they cause injury, illness, or worse, death. Failing to follow up on identified issues can result in ongoing hazards and risks and may undermine the credibility of the inspection process.
Don't keep the results of inspections to yourself.
Sharing the results of inspections with workers and other stakeholders can help build buy-in and ensure that identified issues can be avoided in the future. Rather than keep the results to yourself out of fear that you or your team may be reprimanded, it’s better to be honest about findings rather than risk increasing the risk of hazard. Even if the hazard has been eliminated, the existence of the hazard may indicate that workers need more training in safety processes and protocols.