People at work usually try to work safely. Not many people arrive at work and try to have an accident! However, people also become complacent at work, often taking their workplace for granted and forgetting that other people may be affected by their practices. If you are responsible for workplace safety, our guide on how to carry out a health and safety inspection at work will help!
Health and Safety Inspections Aim to:
Identify where work practices have become substandard, and are an excellent way of identifying potential accidents. They also identify unsafe acts and unsafe conditions that may, if left, cause an accident.
So, before we look at how to do a health and safety inspection at work, we’d better define what the inspection will be looking for. Two straightforward safety hazards need to be identified. Unsafe acts & unsafe conditions.
What is an Unsafe Act?
An unsafe act is something that a person habitually does that may result in an accident. An example may be, someone failing to wear a hard hat when working in a hazardous area. Unsafe acts usually involve behaviours.
What is an Unsafe Condition?
An unsafe condition is something about the physical environment that may present a danger. An example may be, a fire door wedged open. Unsafe conditions are those that may cause an accident or may exacerbate the effects of an accident. If a fire breaks out, smoke might penetrate into escape corridors if the fire door is jammed open.
The Benefits of Health and Safety Inspections
Health and safety inspections are designed to identify those unsafe acts and unsafe conditions that exist in the workplace. Ideally, inspections should be carried out at least monthly.
It is a good idea to have more than one person carrying out the inspection, perhaps changing the team on each occasion.
Health & Safety Inspection Checklist
A checklist is a good idea. Checklists help the inspection team to focus on those issues that are likely to cause significant injury. A checklist may include the following points to look out for:–
- Fire extinguishers – are they in the correct position and in good working order?
- Fire doors – have they been wedged open and, if not, do they open and close freely?
- Work equipment (photocopiers and other office equipment) – are these in good condition and are there any signs of leaks of ink or other damage?
- Portable equipment maintenance (drills and other electrical tools) – are they in good condition and are there signs of damage to cables and connectors?
- Housekeeping – is the general condition of the office or other work area kept clean and tidy?
- Welfare – are toilets clean and tidy?
- Site security – are there accumulations of rubbish and other debris left lying around the outside of the building?
- Lighting – are all lights working and are they bright enough for the work that is being carried out?
- Chemicals – are all containers in good condition and do all containers have suitable labels?
- First aid requirements– are all first aid kits in good condition and easily accessible?
- Protective clothing – have all staff who work in hazardous areas been supplied with personal protective equipment and are they all using the appropriate clothing?
- Vehicles – have forklift trucks and other vehicles been fitted with warning lights and warning horns and are these being used properly?
- Slips and trips – are all floor surfaces in good condition and are there signs of spillages of water, oils or other substances?
- Workplace temperature – is the temperature suitable?
- Proper Ventilation – is the air quality suitable?
- Computer equipment – are all VDU display screens being used properly and have they been set up correctly?
- Safety signs – are there enough safety signs (fire exists, hazardous chemicals, mandatory protective equipment areas etc) around the workplace?
It is important that, after an inspection has been carried out, feedback is provided for the department manager or supervisor. A simple checklist with comments against each item is the best way to record the findings of the inspection. The report can then be forwarded to the manager or supervisor for action.
Over the course of a year, inspection reports can be analysed to see if there are any trends appearing. For example, if each month fire doors are recorded as being jammed open, then this will show up at the end of the year as a concern. Management will then have to address this issue in a more formal way.
Health and safety inspections are a simple way of checking the workplace. Although they are simple, they are an extremely effective way of identifying things that are wrong and provide a means of fixing those things before a serious accident occurs.
Hopefully our guide will have helped you to understand how to carry out a health and safety inspection at work!