Setting the tone for safety inspections.

First impressions matter, especially when it comes to safety inspections. My impression of a facility starts to form the minute I get out of my vehicle. I can sometimes tell whether safety is a priority based on the visual appearance of the facility and interactions in the office. It’s the simple things that stand out such as whether the grounds are well maintained, if they require me to sign-in, if they review facility safety requirements, or require that I be escorted during my visit. This often establishes the tone for the remainder of the inspection. There are simple things each facility can do to improve an inspector’s first impression and the inspection’s results.

The Danger of Compliance

Consider the following:

  • Greet the inspector when they arrive. Whether the inspector is from a regulatory agency, insurance provider, or internal safety department, realize that they have a job to do. It’s nothing personal.
  • Adequately maintain the facility’s grounds, parking lots, and exterior areas. This is the first thing the inspector sees when they arrive.
  • Require visitors to sign-in. This not only sets the tone for security, but also lets the inspector know that they will be accounted for in the event of an emergency.
  • Communicate facility hazards and safety requirements. Conduct a short meeting to discuss facility hazards, such as vehicle traffic, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements and emergency evacuation procedures.
  • Keep communal areas such as lunchrooms, offices, meeting rooms, restrooms, and maintenance shops clean and organized. This establishes that the “quality of life” for employees and visitors is important.
  • Implement effective visual management. This includes signs communicating hazards such as hazardous chemicals, rail/vehicle traffic, high noise, no smoking, etc. In addition, make sure to communicate evacuation routes/areas and PPE requirements. Visitors and contractors often need to be reminded of critical safety requirements and facility hazards.
  • Centrally locate safety documentation and files so that they are easily retrieved during the inspection. Safety and learning management systems are a terrific way to centralize training records, policies, procedures, and associated documents. Being able to provide written documentation upon request establishes that the safety program is well organized.

As the old saying goes, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Consider the items discussed above. It just might make the inspection process go a little smoother and result in a positive outcome.

Joe Mlynek is a partner and subject matter expert at Safety Made Simple, LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in safety at the corporate level and as a consultant. He is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Occupational Safety and Health Technician (OHST). Joe can be reached at