As businesses reopen after the pandemic, workplace inspections should be top of mind, says Angela Cameron, WSPS Consulting Services Manager. "Workplace conditions may be very different now than they were pre-Covid. Has the equipment been maintained? Have processes or equipment changed? Have people's knowledge and skills slipped? Have new employees come on board?
Angela suggests workplaces take the time to revitalize their inspection process by identifying gaps and finding areas for improvement. "Monthly inspections by the joint health and safety committee (JHSC) are a fundamental component of workplace health and safety and need to be as thorough and effective as possible."
Angela offers 9 tips for program development and carrying out inspections. She also suggests taking advantage of WSPS's new Effective Workplace Inspection Bundle, which offers a three-pronged approach to ensuring workplace inspections are comprehensive.
9 inspection tips for organizations and JHSCs
Monthly inspections by the JHSC support the overall goals of the workplace health and safety program by identifying hazards that require corrective action and making recommendations for improvement.
Tips for the organization
- Provide the JHSC with the time and resources they need to carry out inspections. "Ensure your inspections are scheduled, have the right people present, and can be carried out in the allotted time without rushing," says Angela. With these elements in place, “the outcome of the inspection is going to be better."
- Invest in training. The effectiveness of an inspection depends on the inspection team's ability to identify biological, chemical, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), physical, psychosocial and safety hazards. "Training is the best way to ensure that workplace inspections are carried out by informed individuals," says Angela.
- Establish lines of communication. Inspections will only be truly effective if their findings and recommendations are quickly passed on to the appropriate party. In many cases, this is the area supervisor, but it's important to set out in writing how the process works.
- Put a system in place to follow up on hazard recommendations. Identify the person responsible for acting on recommendations, the timeframe for action, and related duties, such as informing the committee of any follow-up measures being taken.
- Use inspection reports to bolster health and safety in general. Analyze the reports to identify trends, understand accident causation, determine training needs, and improve work methods.
Tips for the committee
- Invite the area supervisor to accompany you on the inspection. "The supervisor's knowledge of the people, equipment and hazards in the area can be a great asset in an investigation." Working together also helps build relationships and strengthen the Internal Responsibility System (IRS).
- Develop a checklist by area and hazard. "The checklist ensures you don't overlook anything." For example, a checklist for materials handling & storage could include these questions:
- Are there tripping hazards in the storage area?
- Are ladders available to reach higher shelves? Are they in good condition?
- Are storage shelves loaded only to capacity?
- Are heavy, awkward items stored on lower shelves?
- Talk to workers. "This is an opportunity to observe workers doing the work and ask questions that might pinpoint an issue," says Angela. For example: 'Is it always so loud in here?' 'Can you tell me why you are wearing your safety glasses on your head?'
- Act on immediate threats. "If you spot an imminent danger during the inspection, bring it to supervisors' attention right away so corrective action can be taken." Also, have a discussion with the workers in the area so they are aware of the hazard.
How WSPS can help
New! Inspections Bundle
WSPS has launched a new Effective Workplace Inspection Bundle that focuses on three elements to support an organization's workplace inspections: training, program development, and an inspection of their workplace by an expert consultant.
"The training teaches them how to carry out an inspection in a more methodical way. And the inspection itself provides a snapshot of hazards in the workplace." An in-depth report will review the level of risk and recommended controls.
"The inspection provides baseline information for the workplace on what to look for and follow up on," says Angela. Workplaces will also receive a customized inspection checklist and coaching once the program has been implemented.
To find out more about the Effective Workplace Inspection Bundle, connect with a consultant.
- Workplace Inspections Training (1 hour, eCourse)
- Effective Workplace Inspections (3.5 hours, classroom)
- Inspecting your Workplace - Federal
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