Better Safety Inspections: A Key Process in Your Journey to Zero Incidents
Earlier this month, we published a blog titled ‘Efficient, Effective and Data-Driven Safety Inspections with ComplianceQuest’. In the post, we highlighted the following:
- Typical challenges and pitfalls in the safety inspections process
- Time-consuming and repetitive tasks that make safety inspections inefficient
- The role of automation and how a modern solution like ComplianceQuest can help
In this blog, we'll explain why safety inspections are a critical part of a proactive safety management strategy, various types of safety inspections, and key best practices to follow – so the safety inspection process has a direct impact on reducing risks.
A workplace is a place where people, equipment, materials, and processes come together to create a product or a service. The interaction of so many different elements can lead to potentially hazardous situations that result in accidents. These could cause damage to workers, the environment, or the assets of the company -- leading to injuries, death, and loss of revenues and productivity.
According to Heinrich’s law, any accident is often preceded by several minor incidents or near misses. If they are addressed appropriately, then the accident can be avoided. Clearly, prevention is possible and, without a doubt better than cure!
If you’re looking to implement a safety management strategy that is not just reactive but also proactive, a robust safety inspection process/workflow is paramount.
If conducted periodically and thoroughly, safety inspections can help identify potential hazards – across various processes and locations.
Planning Safety Inspections for Various Safety Hazards at Your Enterprise
A good strategy for any enterprise is to plan, schedule and implement safety inspections for various types of hazards. Post-inspection corrective actions (CAs) are super critical as well. Keep the inspections focused – plan site-specific inspections, inspections only related to equipment-related safety hazards, personnel training-related safety gaps, etc.
Some of the key hazards in industries like manufacturing and/or life sciences include:
Equipment: A business works with several different kinds of machines. Right from the equipment used for manufacturing to vehicles for material handling, construction, food processors, etc. are some of the examples. These can be hazardous if not used and maintained properly. They must have proper guards to prevent accidents. Depending on the kind of energy they use such as mechanical, electrical, gravitational, pneumatic, etc., the hazard can vary. Vehicular movement can be another source of risk. Therefore, the machines used at the work site must be identified and categorized prior to the inspection and appropriate parameters checked to ensure safety.
Biological: Depending on the nature of the industry, there could be disease-causing organisms such as insects, viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, that need proper handling and storage to prevent accidental contamination and spread of illnesses. Specific inspections to make sure that the protocols related to biological hazards are followed and compliant with relevant regulations are important.
Chemical: The use of chemicals in various industries is also regulated and inspections must ensure that the employees are aware of the potential risks. These chemicals must be stored and handled appropriately and appropriate precautions exercised by those who handle them. Inspections must ensure this by assessing storage capabilities as well as understanding the use of PPE by those handling them.
Ergonomic: Musculoskeletal injuries are becoming common due to improper work methods and posture caused by the manual handling of heavy materials and poorly designed workstations, tools, and equipment. This causes physiological and psychological stress on the workers, leading to the injuries.
Physical: The workplace is filled with a variety of other hazards such as noise, vibration, high or low temperatures, radiation, dust, odors, clutter, spills, and so on that can cause a variety of injuries. These include slipping, tripping, hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS), hearing impairment, and so on. Inspections must assess the severity of these conditions, their impact on health, the controls, and their effectiveness.
Psychosocial: Factors affecting the physiological space are easier to identify than those affecting the mental health of the employees. While stress and overwork are common causes of concern, there could also be subtler factors such as bullying, violence, or harassment that are harder to detect. But they too affect the mental health and productivity of the employees and need to be identified early before they affect the workplace culture.
Key Safety Inspection Best Practices
Some of the best practices to make inspections comprehensive and impactful include:
Planning and Scheduling Inspections: For effectively covering the entire workplace and the multiple locations of the organization
- Get the floorplan of all the work sites
- Identify the processes happening at each site
- Understand the nature of the activities and the machinery and materials used there to plan the inspection accordingly
Assigning Roles and Defining Tasks: Based on the machine and materials, the team of inspectors must be divided into groups to cover the different aspects thoroughly. Reading the data sheets, the instructions, and safety manuals will help assess the potential risk areas to watch out for alarm signals. Know the recommended safety controls and the KPIs to ensure they have been implemented correctly and are effective as expected.
Preparing Questions: When conducting interviews with the workers, knowing what to ask to get insights is imperative. This will help understand whether the safety protocols are being followed, if the necessary precautions are being taken and if action is taken in case of safety observations and near misses.
Gathering Trending Information: In this context, being prepared with safety data will also help capture trending data and focus on safety issues that recur or are on the verge of occurring. This can help identify risks better and identify the root cause for more effective solutions.
Being Armed with Checklists: Based on the assessment of the processes and the nature of materials and machines present at the site, a checklist must be prepared. This helps to cover all important aspects and prevents any slip-ups due to lack of clarity or forgetfulness. It can also aid with documentation and reporting. Inspectors can record their findings on the spot and add comments before forgetting what it is that they had observed.
Referring to Records of Past Inspection: It will also be good to read up on the earlier inspection records to identify areas that had been high-risk and the action taken. This can act as a guide for the current inspection to assess the impact of the action and also to know which areas to focus on.
Following Up on Action Taken: Once the inspections are over, it is important to record the findings and during the next inspection, make sure improvements can be seen. This is important for continuous improvement and compliance.
Automation of Safety Inspections with ComplianceQuest
To drive efficiency into the inspection process, digital transformation of the entire workflow holds the key. CQ Safety Inspections Solution will help you streamline the end-to-end inspection process with the following features:
- Inspection Program Management – Quickly set up inspection programs, create checklists, and streamline inspections across your organization
- Inspections Management - Efficiently schedule, assign, and conduct a program or ad hoc inspections across the sites from a single and centralized platform
- Customized Checklists - Effortlessly create customized electronic checklists to create a comprehensive library for various safety inspections
- Import Utility - Leverage import wizards to easily import a pre-built checklist in minutes
- Scoring Mechanism – Configure scores and weights to checklists to get insights into how inspections are performing over the period
- Effective Corrective Actions – Instantly initiate corrective actions and track the progress in real-time
- Offline Mobile App – Easily conduct safety inspections in the field using a mobile app, with or without connectivity
The Safety Inspection Software improves the efficiency and effectiveness of the inspections and makes reporting and compliance easier. Implementing the right safety inspections program will play a key role in your journey towards zero incidents.
To know more, download the full whitepaper here: https://www.compliancequest.com/whitepaper/robust-safety-inspection-program/
To know more about ComplianceQuest EHS, request a demo here: https://www.compliancequest.com/lp/ehs/