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How to conduct workplace health and safety inspections

October 26, 2013

By: Rick Lewis

safety inspectors ISQEM





One of the fundamental tasks to help maintain or improve health and safety is by undertaking routine inspections of a workplace. It gives the opportunity to identify possible hazards and risk in the working environment and the chance to correct any deficiencies before an incident occurs.

The question often asked is “are we doing inspections to improve safety, or are we merely doing them to demonstrate compliance with legislation”?  Unfortunately it is often seen by many people as being more of a tick box exercise and we need to change their perception of what health and safety inspections can do.

 So what is the purpose of an inspection?

The purpose of a health and safety inspection is very clear and simple, that is to:

  • identify potential health or safety hazards
  • assess the current status of safety in the workplace;
  • look for opportunities to help improve on current operational procedures
  • provide feedback to employees on good safety practices;
  • raise awareness of health and safety with employees
  • demonstrate visible management and supervisor commitment to safety standards

When conducted correctly, safety inspections can definitely promote efficiency and quality improvements within a working environment, which relates to an increase in profitability.

So what should we do?

Develop a simple inspection checklist appropriate to your working environment.  This helps you to focus on specific areas during your inspection. A checklist will also allow you to compare results from other inspectors and identify common trends.

Let people know why you doing an inspection. Nobody wants to feel they are being spied on. So communicate that the inspection is an improvement process to help maintain the employee’s personal safety whilst at work. Talk to people during your inspection and ask open and friendly questions.

Make sure people who will be conducting inspections are trained properly on hazard and risk identification. Too often we see organisations issue a checklist to their supervisors or managers with no instruction on how to conduct a walk around safety inspection.

Use the results of any inspection to communicate safety awareness and discuss any good practices. Discuss in safety toolbox talks and meetings or even post improvement ideas on notice boards. Whatever means you use make sure it’s visible so employees see an actual outcome.

Engage everyone in the inspection process.  Employee buy-in is critical to the success of any workplace health and safety regime. Where possible have other people join you whilst carrying out an inspection, you nether know they might end up being your safety ambassador.

Allocate adequate and dedicated time to conduct the inspection and plan your schedule based on the workplace risk profile.

So by conducting health and safety inspections we can ultimately help to keep our working environment hazard free and more importantly our employees and other safe from harm.

By Rick Lewis

ISQEM blog contributor

  1. Well done Rick, a good and practicable article on health and safety inspections. Glad you have joined us as a blog contributor. Looking forward to your next article.

  2. Mark Way permalink

    It looks very similar to what we do already…the best part is that it is an opportunity to comment on whats GOOD as well as whats “bad” and this gets a pretty good response from staff !

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