Effective Workplace Inspections : OSH Answers
Yes. Before performing a workplace inspection, inspectors should become familiar with any potential health and safety issues or trends identified through other types of reports.
The following describes other types of reports:
- Ongoing inspections
- Hazard reports
- Incident and investigation reports
- Inspection compliance orders
- Pre-operation checks
- Pre-start engineering health and safety reviews
- Job hazard analysis (JHA)
- Periodic inspections (preventive maintenance)
- Monitoring device data (occupational hygiene)
- Internal and external audits
- Health and safety summaries
Ongoing inspections: Supervisors and workers should conduct ongoing inspections as part of their job responsibilities. Such inspections identify hazardous or unusual operating conditions as they occur during the course of work. A hazard report may be generated to either correct the issue immediately or to request further corrective action.
Hazard Reports about unsafe working conditions and hazards may be submitted directly or anonymously by workers, and by the health and safety committee or representative. Reports may include corrective action recommendations from the committee.
Incident and investigation reports include a detailed inspection of the work area where the incident occurred and a root cause analysis. Being aware of how and why an incident occurred can help inspectors to identify the same hazard elsewhere. Incident trends can help to prioritize specific hazards, for example, if there have been several slip-trip-fall incidents or musculoskeletal (MSD) injuries in recent months.
Inspection compliance orders and tickets (fines) may be given by inspection officers from the jurisdictional health and safety regulator, fire department, electrical authority, and other regulatory bodies. Inspection may occur at any time, for a targeted blitz, or in response to a reportable incident, fatality, or complaint. These legal orders must be complied with and receive immediate priority.
Pre-operation checks are performed by workers at the beginning of their shift, before they begin to use the machine, vehicle, equipment, or process. Daily checks by users assure that the equipment meets minimum acceptable safety requirements. The frequency of these inspections varies with the amount and conditions of equipment use. Several pre-operation checklists may be completed each day by different workers. These checks are also done after workplace shutdowns, provided no modifications have been made.
Pre-start engineering health and safety reviews involve inspections of new or modified equipment or processes. A cross-functional team of workers, managers, and safety specialists are encouraged to participate in the review. In some cases, the review and report documents must be completed and stamped by a qualified engineer before the new or modified equipment may be legally operated.
Job hazard analysis (JHA) is used to identify potential hazards in each step of a worker’s job and tasks, and to develop safe processes for them to use. Reviewing JHAs can help observers to detect unsafe conditions or acts as workers carry out their regular job tasks.
Periodic inspections are regular, planned inspections of the critical components of equipment or systems that have a high potential for causing serious injury or illness, or are necessary for emergency response. The inspections are often part of preventive maintenance procedures or hazard control programs. Laws and regulations may specify that qualified or competent persons must inspect certain types of equipment, such as elevators, boilers, pressure vessels, hoists and cranes, scaffolding, transport docks, warehouse racking, vehicles, fire suppression systems and fire extinguishers at determined points in the work process and at regular intervals (e.g., monthly, quarterly, annually).
Monitoring devices may be used to sample and record data about potentially hazardous environmental conditions (e.g., temperature, noise, dust, carbon monoxide, radiation, chemical leaks, etc.). Sampling may be performed by automated sensors or by an occupational hygienist.
Internal audits are performed throughout the year by qualified workers, generally to support a health and safety management system, and to verify that the overall workplace inspection program is effective.
External audits are performed by accredited auditors, hired by the employer to perform scheduled health and safety management system audits. Corporate insurance providers may also request an audit. These reports are useful as the auditor may have identified new areas of concern or existing issues that should be prioritized.
A periodic summary of key items and trends from all of these reports may be prepared by the employer’s health and safety specialist for presentation to the health and safety committee and operations team on a monthly, quarterly, or annual basis. They may be called ‘executive summaries’ or ‘management reviews’. Using an existing summary report can save time during the inspection preparation phase.
Effective Workplace Inspections : OSH Answers
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