Workplace Inspection – Could it be made more effective?

At some point in their lives, as I am sure, people have taken up to learn a new skill. Now the learning pace could be potentially different but to master something doing it continuously for a significant time, or as one would say – practice makes a man (or a woman *click click*) perfect!

Now, let’s mirror this analogy to an organization task – Workplace Inspections!

To state the obvious, we all know that a workplace inspection is an important aspect of any organization’s safety program. We also know that it helps identify potential hazards and risks that could harm employees and visitors and moreover prevents accidents and injuries. 

Now let’s be candid, workplace inspection being one of the tasks that HAS-TO-BE carried out & at its best and your site EHS professionals are always making sure of it by following the best practices. However, conducting an effective workplace inspection requires more than just walking around and observing the environment. So the real question now is, what can be done to make these inspections better & more effective?

Let’s look at some potential points that could help conduct an effective workplace inspection:

Identify potential hazards that look ‘not-so-potential’ 

You would conduct a walkthrough of the workplace before the inspection to familiarize yourself with the environment and potential hazards. Take note of any areas that require special attention or that may be difficult to access. Things such as noise, lighting, temperature, vibration, and ventilation – elements that could develop into unsafe or unhealthy conditions down the line. Inspections also need to go out of the areas where work is regularly conducted, and extend to such places like the parking lot, locker rooms, rest area, etc. 

Make a list of all equipment, machinery, and materials that need to be inspected. Also, make minute note of hazards such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, repetitive and forceful movements, as well as prolonged awkward postures, overwork, stress, or even violence. These minor hazards would not look as big on their face value but can lead to serious damages if prolonged.

Know what your employees have to say!

Let me ask you this. Who spends the most time in the day-to-day operations?  The employees, right! So it goes without saying that since they are more hands-on with the tasks, they have notes that could help you a great deal with making things better for them. 

Involve employees in the inspection process by asking for their input and feedback. They may have valuable insights into hazards or safety concerns that may have been overlooked, what can be done to streamline operations & increase productivity. 

Encourage them to report any safety hazards they may encounter during their workday.

Inspect the underlying concerns systematically

When carrying out your safety Inspection, you may have a, Ah! So that’s what’s wrong!  moment quite a lot and you may feel that you have successfully identified the cause. But don’t just stop at that! Adopt the, But why did it lead to this? Ideology as well. Inspect systematically by starting at one point of the workplace and working your way around in a logical and consistent pattern. Take note of any hazards or potential hazards and prioritize them based on their severity. Use a rating system to prioritize hazards, such as a red, yellow, green system.

Document findings & Loop in the Management

Do not sweep anything under the rug. Any minute to the minutest detail, however insignificant it may appear, should be considered. Document all findings, including hazards identified, corrective actions taken, and any other relevant information. The sooner an issue is documented, the easier and less expensive it would be to fix. 

Loop in all the important stakeholders on any issue, that could be more or less potential of affecting the safety or productivity of any operations at any point, to ensure everyone is up-to-date. Use a standardized form or template to ensure that all information is captured accurately and consistently. Make sure to include photographs or videos to illustrate any hazards or safety concerns. 

Don’t just point out the flaws, discuss how to fix them!

Identifying the potential hazards & its root causes is one thing. But providing realistic solutions should also be made an important aspect of your workplace Inspection. 

Analyze data collected during the inspection to identify trends and areas that require improvement. Use this information to develop and implement strategies to prevent future hazards and safety concerns. Provide effective corrective actions to the workers & help them improve the process. 

Follow up on corrective actions taken to address hazards identified during the inspection. Ensure that all corrective actions are completed within a reasonable timeframe and that they effectively address the hazard. Document all follow-up actions taken. This will also help you strengthen your communication channel with your workers & help them come forward with their concerns & inputs

The Effective can always be made Better!

Continuous improvement is key to an effective workplace inspection program. Evaluate the effectiveness of the program on a regular basis and make changes as necessary. Use feedback from employees, inspection data, and best practices to improve the program over time.

Invest in technologies that make your HSE training better! Your workplace inspections can always be improved when your Inspector is competitive, trained & has the right & complete information. Something as simple as an Animated Video Explaining the Correct workplace Inspection best practices can go a long way as visual mediums are known to be more receptive to the brain & it is known that it retains more information, for a longer period of time & has a higher recall value!

In conclusion, conducting an effective workplace inspection requires planning, preparation, and attention to detail. By following these best practices, you can ensure that your workplace inspection program is comprehensive, efficient, and effective in preventing hazards and promoting safety in the workplace.

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