Routine safety inspections are a great way to identify, eliminate and control hazards in the work environment. In addition to focusing on the types of hazards at your facility, it is important to have the right team involved in the routine safety inspection process.

Assembling the Team

Involving multiple employees in the routine inspections not only allows for additional eyes and perspectives, it also is an educational opportunity for all involved. The routine safety inspection team should consist of members of management and operations. It can also be beneficial rotate persons regularly and to involve persons from other company facilities.

Developing the Safety Inspection checklist

Each facility should develop its own inspection checklist based on the type of operation and the types of hazards present. Consider focusing on the following inspection elements:

General Housekeeping

  • Are walking and working surfaces kept free of debris and materials that could cause slips, trips and falls?
  • Are emergency exit routes maintained to allow for egress in the event of an emergency?
  • Are hazardous chemicals properly stored and labeled?
  • Are power rooms free of combustible materials and flammable liquid storage?
  • Is electrical equipment accessible (energy isolating devices, main disconnects, etc.)?
  • Is the overall work area clean and organized?

Fire Protection and Security

  • Are fixed ladders secured during non-business hours?
  • Are security fences or facility gates maintained in proper condition?
  • Are security systems and cameras operating properly?
  • Are visitors required to sign-in and out when entering the facility?
  • Are employees following the company’s hot work permit procedures?
  • Are fire extinguishers certified annually by a third-party and inspected monthly?
  • Are combustible materials kept out of the area adjacent to designated hot work areas in the maintenance shop?

General Safety

  • Are bench grinders, power tools, drive belts, chains, tail pulleys, gravity take-ups adequately guarded?
  • Are energy isolating devices (disconnects, breakers, etc.) properly labeled to indicate purpose?
  • Are covers and doors to electrical equipment secured properly?
  • Is intrinsically safe equipment being utilized within hazardous locations (Class I or Class II)?
  • Are work platforms equipped with guardrail and toe board?
  • Are power tools and extension cords free of damage?
  • Are portable ladders free of damage, wear, etc.?
  • Is fall protection equipment (lanyards, body-harnesses, self-retracting lifelines, anchor straps, etc.) in acceptable condition free from damage, wear, etc.?

Employee Behaviors

  • Are employees following proper isolation procedures when working on equipment that could unexpectedly start-up or become energized?
  • Are employees wearing required personal protective equipment for the task being performed?
  • Are employees using proper body positioning and lifting techniques?
  • Are employees using appropriate tools for the task being performed?

It is critical to find a balance between identifying hazardous conditions and employee behaviors that may lead to injury. If you are struggling to find the right behaviors to focus on, try reviewing past incidents (injuries, first aids, near misses, etc.). Compile a list of behaviors that may have contributed to the incidents and look for those behaviors during the inspection process.

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Joe Mlynek is a partner and subject matter expert at Safety Made Simple, Inc. 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 [email protected]