Inspections provide a clear and comprehensive picture of the hazards and risks of a project, making regular inspections excellent strategies for uncovering safety concerns and reducing risk. Inspections assess the degree of compliance with industry standards, determine if workers are exposed to safety risks, and provide documented proof that workplace conditions meet applicable codes or regulations.

Therefore, for inspections to provide comprehensive data that can guide proactive steps, they must answer the who, what, when, and where. The answer to these questions becomes the framework of your strategy. Each component of the inspection should be perceived as a critical cog in the overall machine.


Who should be conducting the work safety inspections?

It would be ideal to have more than one inspector in the field looking after safety. It’s even better to have a diverse team of observers to reinforce the efforts of the safety team. A team approach is still the most effective strategy when it comes to safety processes as it promotes shared ownership.  


What should be inspected during the work safety inspection?

Items to be inspected according to your checklist should be commensurate with the potential risks involved. Therefore, there should be less focus on existing safety processes and materials, such as hard hats and safety glasses, and more attention to activities that pose higher risks. These may include inspections in areas like electrical, fall protection, and confined spaces.

It’s also important to focus on areas that aren’t often observed. This ability to identify those areas that aren’t immediately obvious separates an average inspection from an exceptional one. For example, assigning inspections to a specific category, such as PPE, and breaking it down into a subcategory like safety glasses. By refining inspections into specific categories, you can track the trend of what is observed the most and the least.


When should inspections take place to improve workplace safety?

The number of inspections and observations may vary by role. A site safety manager will have different responsibilities compared to superintendents or supervisors. The same differentiation may be applied to a plant or project manager. Because their accountabilities will be different, it’s essential to monitor all inspection activities to prevent excessive overlapping and conflicts, which may be disruptive to operations.

Setting expectations for weekly and monthly inspections per role also helps ensure there are no inspections, and you don’t end up losing opportunities to capture valuable information. Careful planning and scheduling also help provide better and more focused inspections. Good timing is essential for certain inspections, such as a critical crane pick or a confined space entry.


Where are inspections needed in the workplace?

Most workplaces are extensive and complex; a standard manufacturing facility will likely have an office, a utility building, and a warehouse. And within all that, there will be an area where deliveries are made, a garage for industrial equipment, and areas for the actual manufacturing activities. Because of the various areas, it’s not likely or expected that each inspection could encompass the entire breadth of the workplace. Therefore, each inspection should be linked to specific areas within a location.

In conclusion, for your inspection strategy to be effective and productive, set expectations for how often each area should be expected and what must be observed in each area. If a company has multiple projects separated by a considerable distance, the same concept should apply. The organization can ensure visibility into all activities and mitigate risk by answering who, what, when, and where.

For safe and efficient field inspections, equip yourself with The Checker. All of our checklists are available as software or Checklist Books. Feel free to browse our checklist library to find the inspections you want.

Tags: inspection management, safety audits


Learn how inspections can increase productivity, reduce costs, and improve safety in a systematic way that can be sustained as a competitive advantage.