Safety Inspections are inspecting your facility for hazards or compliance issues. They’re usually done by Safety Managers as a recurring task. They’re one of the most proactive activities they do. You’re looking for things that could injury someone.
Safety Managers have the training, knowledge, and experience related to the regulations. So, they’re considered the go-to person to do these inspections.
Every set of eyes you can get looking for hazards increases the likelihood of finding every hazard in your workplace.
COMPLACENCY HAPPENS EVEN FOR SAFETY MANAGERS
By the time you’ve been in your role for six months, you’ve walked your facility 100’s of times. This routine causes complacency, even for the professional.
There are a few ways to combat this complacency:
- Be aware that it happens to everyone. Make a concerted effort to address your inspection with your own fresh mindset.
- Use a flashlight during safety inspections. This will focus your attention on the details within your facility.
- Break up your inspections into 25-minute intervals spread over several days.
- Include other people in your safety inspections. Don’t ever do them alone.
WHY INCLUDE EMPLOYEES IN SAFETY INSPECTIONS
Your employees have the most insight into the work being done. They’re closest to it and have a keen understanding of why the work is done the way it’s and what the equipment is used for.
Including them also increases their engagement in the safety program. While at the same time, improves their understanding of safety. When they help you with these safety inspections, it can be a learning opportunity for them. This will make them more aware of the safety hazards in their daily work.
Employees can be a fresh set of eyes. Especially if they inspect an area of your facility they don’t typically work in.
WHAT TO DO BEFORE EMPLOYEES START SAFETY INSPECTIONS
Anyone conducting a safety inspection needs to be trained.
This training can be full-blown OSHA regulations and company policies. You may choose to put all your inspectors through a 10- or 30-hour OSHA course.
Another option is to train them on how to do the specific safety inspections you need them to do, along with proper hazard recognition training.
Don’t forget to train them on the paperwork. If the safety inspection isn’t documented, it wasn’t done.
This second option is feasible for most operations. But, the Safety Professional must conduct their own inspections. This way, you still have an expert involved. Even if your inspectors are not regulations experts.
HOW TO INCLUDE EMPLOYEES IN SAFETY INSPECTIONS
Keep in mind that your employees were not hired to do full-blown inspections. Small pre-start inspections are the only kind listed on their job description. Anything more is usually on a volunteer basis.
Step #1 – What employees do you want to include?
It’s important to include employees from all departments, even your office employees. If you pick one employee from each area, it should give you enough to spread the work of inspections around.
Another option is using any employee committees you may have. You can make safety inspections part of your safety committee’s duties. This is definitely one way to go.
But, the more employees you’ve involved in safety, the better. You get increased engagement, understanding, and awareness for safety – see above.
Creating a separate inspection committee is another option. This committee could do safety, quality, and inventory inspections.
Step #2 – Decide what they’ll inspect.
Do you want them doing a full inspection all together all at once? Or do you want to give each employee a small area?
You can have employees inspect the common work areas. But leave the roof, security, and maintenance areas to the Safety Manager.
I’ve created a checklist of various inspections that you can have employees do. It’s easier to ask the employee to help with safety inspections when it’s a specific area. So, break your inspections into smaller areas.
Step #3 – How often will they do their safety inspections?
At a minimum, you want your full facility inspected quarterly. But, if you have a high injury rate or if your inspections have a lot of findings, increase the frequency of your inspections.
This quarterly inspection can be done all at once or a little bit every week.
It’s easier to get them involved if the time commitment is small. Consider this when you’re including employees in your safety inspections. Asking them to do a 20-minute inspection every week is easier than asking for 1 hour a month.
Every week they could inspect a different area. By the end of the quarter, your entire facility is completed.
Step #4 – Have a process to review their results.
When the employees have completed their safety inspections, their findings should be documented. Collect their documentation and review it.
Make sure you understand the specific hazards they found so that way you can get it corrected. Especially if you were not with them during the inspection,
Step #5 – Follow up with the employee.
Keep your employee safety inspectors apprised on the status of their inspection results. They’re essentially telling you about hazards. So, you need to have a process in place that shows them what you did about it.
This could be as simple as reviewing their old inspection sheets with them. When the hazards they reported have been fixed. Ask the employee to verify it’s fixed to their satisfaction.
This makes them part of the hazard correction process.
If you’ve never included employees in your inspection process, start by looking at how you can break your inspections into small areas. Such as:
- First Aid Kits
- Exit Lights
- Fire Extinguishers
- Different parts of your operation
Then select one employee to help with the inspection of one area. When they’re good, add in a 2nd employee. And so on. Eventually, you may have a whole committee of safety inspectors.
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Tell me, how do you include employees in your safety program? What benefits have you seen by doing this? Leave me a comment below and start the conversation.
Hi, I'm Brye (rhymes with sky)! I am a self-proclaimed safety geek with two decades of general industry safety experience. Specializing in bringing safety programs to a world-class level and building a safety culture, I have trained and coached many safety managers, just like you, on how to effectively manage workplace safety in the real world. I would love to help you too.