Shop Talk: Inspections

Shop Talk: Inspections

​What will we do t​oday to prevent an incident?​ A worker in a hard hat makes a checkmark on his clipboard.

​​​​​​​A proactive inspection is a walk-through of the workplace, in selected areas or locations. Inspections examine anything that might cause injury or illness. They also include an examination of all safety-related procedures. Inspections are one of the most proactive tools that workplace safety and health committees will use to reduce and prevent injury and illness in the workplace. 

Who should be involved in a proac​​tive workplace inspection? 

Workplace safety and health committee members carry out workplace inspections. However, everyone in the workplace is responsible for workplace safety and can contribute to the inspection process by working safely and reporting hazards to their supervisor or to the safety and health committee.

When do you cond​​uct workplace inspections? 

Members of the workplace safety and health committee must inspect the workplace, and the work processes and procedures at the workplace, at least once before each regularly scheduled meeting of the committee. Workplaces where the level of risk is higher may need to do inspections more often. An inspection schedule must be developed by the employer and the safety and health committee as a part of their safety and health program.

What sh​ould be inspected? 

There are many things to consider as a part of a workplace inspection, including: 
  • facilities 
  • equipment 
  • environment 
  • processes 
  • materials 
  • procedures 
  • job duties 
  • slip, trip and fall hazards 
  • the potential for musculoskeletal injuries. 

What should we be looking for d​​uring an inspection? 

Hazards in the workplace fall into five categories: 
  • physical 
  • musculoskeletal 
  • chemical and mineral 
  • biological 
  • psychosocial. 
The inspection team should be trained to identify hazards specific to the workplace: for example, missing machine guards and broken or worn parts, which can be picked up during preventative maintenance program inspections. Most inspections are about finding something that is out of the ordinary that can cause an injury. 

Communication with workers is also important, to get their feedback on potential hazards. Workers’ familiarity with the workplace and their job duties will benefit your inspection process and lead to a more thorough inspection.

What is the step-by-step proc​ess for conducting an inspection? 

  1. Develop a plan for the area to be inspected and review the previous inspection record to ensure no outstanding items need to be completed. 

  2. Use an inspection template to record findings or hazards. 

  3. Ensure that all the inspection tools and resources have been put into place before the inspection begins. 

  4. Establish your inspection team’s route and the type of inspection being carried out to maintain consistency. 

  5. Inform supervisors when performing inspections in their departments and inform them when finished. 

  6. Perform the inspection process the same way each time to avoid missing a hazard that should have been obvious. 

  7. Inspect other areas of the workplace where complacency may be an issue. New eyes could make a difference in spotting a hazard. 

  8. Talk to workers. This will help you understand the workers’ jobs and alert you to risks that you may not be aware of. 

  9. Conduct inspections with two inspectors, one representing workers and one representing management. This will help you spot the hazards and give the process more credibility. 

  10. Inspect procedures as well—this is required. Procedures must be updated with any changes to a work process or equipment.

  11. Perform a risk assessment to assign a risk leavel and priority to the hazards found, so that you can take action on controlling the hazards.

  12. Develop a thorough report and assign responsibility to get the work done ASAP.

  13. Sign and date the inspection report and be sure to follow up to ensure assigned work is completed.

Other res​ources: 

An additional SAFE Work Manitoba resource on inspections is the SAFE Committee Inspections video​

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