Need for an Inspection

First is determining what needs to be audited. What is audited might be a specific occupation (e.g., machinist), task (e.g., welding), topic (e.g., electrical), team (e.g., rescue), operator (e.g., crane operator), part of the work site (e.g., loading/unloading), compliance with an OSHA regulation (e.g., Hazard Communication Standard), or the complete work site. An inspection might be performed if any of the previous lists of activities have unique identifiable hazards, new tasks involved, increased risk potential, changes in job procedures, areas with unique operations, or areas where comparison can be made regarding safety and health factors.

In the process of performing inspections, one might discover hazards in a new process, hazards once a process has been instituted, a need to modify or change processes or procedures, or situational hazards that may not exist at all times. These audits may verify that job procedures are being followed and identify work practices that are both positive and negative. They may also detect exposure factors, both chemical and physical, and determine monitoring and maintenance methods and needs.

At times, inspections are driven by the frequency of injury; potential for injury; the severity of injuries; new or altered equipment, processes, and operations; and excessive waste or damaged equipment. These audits may be continuous, ongoing, planned, periodic, intermittent, or dependent upon specific needs. Audits may also determine employee comprehension of procedures and rules, the effectiveness of workers' training, assess the work climate or perceptions held by workers and others, and evaluate the effectiveness of a supervisor regarding his/her commitment to safety and health.

At many active workplaces, daily site inspections are performed by the supervisor in order to detect hazardous conditions, equipment, materials, or unsafe work practices. At other times, periodic site inspections are conducted by the site safety and health officer. The frequency of inspections is established in the workplace safety and health program. The supervisor, in conjunction with the safety and health officer, determines the required frequency of these inspections, based on the level and complexity of the anticipated activities and on the hazards associated with these activities. In the review of work site conditions/activities, site hazards, and protecting site workers, the inspections should include an evaluation of the effectiveness of the company's safety and health program. The safety and health officer should revise the company's safety and health program as necessary, to ensure the program's continued effectiveness.

Prior to the start of each shift or new activity, a workplace and equipment inspection should take place. This should be done by the workers, crews, supervisor, and other qualified employees. At a minimum, they should check the equipment and materials that they will be using during the operation or shift for damage or defects that could present a safety hazard. In addition, they should check the work area for new or changing site conditions or activities that could also present a safety hazard.

All employees should immediately report any identified hazards to their supervisors. All identified hazardous conditions should be eliminated or controlled immediately. When this is not possible,

  • 1. Interim control measures should be implemented immediately to protect workers.
  • 2. Warning signs should be posted at the location of the hazard.
  • 3. All affected employees should be informed of the location of the hazard and the required interim controls.
  • 4. Permanent control measures should be implemented as soon as possible.

When a supervisor is not sure how to correct an identified hazard, or is not sure if a specific condition presents a hazard, he/she should seek technical assistance from a competent person, a site safety and health officer, or other supervisors or managers. Safety and health audits should be an integral part of the safety and health effort. Anyone conducting a safety and health audit must know the workplace, the procedures or processes being audited, the

Workplace Inspections


previous accident history, and the company's policies and operations. This person should also be trained in hazard recognition and interventions regarding safety and health.

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