Workplace safety inspections are an important part of good health and safety in the workplace. They ensure that the workplace is operating safely, according to legislation put out by HSE.
Inspections are an important proactive measure – identifying potential problems before they manifest into something serious that could cause workplace injuries or, worst case, fatalities. Read on for more information about how to carry out a workplace safety inspection.
How often should workplace inspections be carried out?
There’s no legal minimum term for official HSE inspections to be carried out. Depending on the type of work that you do, each company should make a judgement call on how frequently to carry out inspections.
Low-risk environments will generally require fewer inspections while potentially high-risk workplaces like construction sites, factories, and labs will require more frequent inspections. In high-risk workplaces there are hazards that can develop over time which need to be identified and successfully countered. Generally though, formal inspections will be carried out no more infrequently than every three months – unless there has been an incident or casualty at work in which case the inspection should occur immediately.
How to carry out a workplace inspection
There are various ways to carry out an inspection, but the method you decide should be agreed upon in advance by those carrying out the inspection.
Inspections can be formal, informal, recorded or unrecorded – but they should always be carried out to an agreed standard.
Before the inspection
Agree in advance what needs to be inspected (areas, or equipment) and to what standard. Read past inspection reports to agree where to start.
During the inspection
Walk around the premises and look for unsafe conditions or unsafe acts that you notice there and then. Keep a record of findings in a notebook or use a previously assembled checklist to ensure that you are thorough.
For example, unsafe conditions are slip, trip and fall hazards or faulty or damaged work equipment. Unsafe acts are workers not wearing correct PPE, or not following procedure.
After the inspection
Afterwards, write up your findings with the date of the inspection and the people that undertook it, and name an employee to be responsible for completing the recommended actions, so that there is accountability for the changes that need to be made. Another employee should check that the actions have been completed by the given date.
It’s also important to take action on the discoveries from the inspection. If necessary, update risk assessments. Approach the relevant departments to organise repair or replacement of any unsafe equipment, or immediately stop unsafe procedures or equipment from being used.
Workplace inspection checklists
As certain workplaces might contain a huge range of potential risks, it’s not always easy to think of everything that you need to check in a workplace inspection
Using a checklist can help you to check areas that you might not have otherwise thought of, but you can also check out these blogs: Health and Safety Inspections: A TUC Guide and Workplace Inspections Government Advice.
Working Safely During COVID-19
The public health emergency created by the COVID-19 pandemic has added another layer to safety in the workplace, all spaces need to be re-evaluated. With many people returning to work, leisure or education, a risk assessment will identify key areas needed to make locations ‘COVID Secure’.
The government has released guidance on key elements which you need to consider when opening.
The scientific advice is, wherever possible, to ensure people keep 2m apart. When this is not possible up to 1m apart, you must mitigate risk. Some things you can look to implement are:
– floor tape to mark 2m distances and designate work areas
– proper signage to raise awareness of the 2m distance guidance
– the addition of physical barriers such as screens
– limiting the movement of people in high traffic areas such as walkways and corridors. A one-way system can help the flow around the building
Cleaning and Hygiene
Keeping clean and disinfected surfaces is vital as viruses can travel through locations quickly through touch.
Think about the high-touch points such as door handles, light switches, lift buttons and handrails, just to name a few. These are the key high-risk areas where the transmission can occur quickly. Why not consider placing sanitising stations at the beginning of corridors or high traffic areas?
The Clorox Total 360 System is an electrostatic sprayer which many facilities are now using to easily disinfect large areas in very short spaces of time.
Implement proper handwashing and hygiene procedures, replacing hand dryers which can spread viruses with paper hand towels – which can capture and dispose of instead.
Whilst facilities have been shut during Lockdown, stagnant water can become a breeding ground for certain water pathogens such as Legionella, SARS and many more. You may need to consider the use of products such as Eco WMT Uric Acid Crystal Digestor Urinal Unblocker to eat away at the organic food source which these pathogens rely on to survive.
For more information on becoming COVID Secure, visit the UK government’s website here or visit our guide to products that can help in the fight against COVID-19.