The Role of Safety Inspections in Continuous Improvement and Risk Reduction
Blog | August 30th, 2023

The Role of Safety Inspections in Continuous Improvement and Risk Reduction

A leading cleantech company, specializing in the management and disposal of hazardous waste products, was looking for a better way to streamline safety management processes.

The company offers the following services: home collection of waste products, industrial and commercial waste collection, integral management of residues, construction waste management, and operation of landfills.

critical roles of contractors and workers in safety management

In early 2022, the fast-growing cleantech company opted for ComplianceQuest’s Software to identify and manage their safety, sustainability, and environmental needs. It also wanted a better way to manage all risk assessments (aspects and impacts) and make the risk management function more collaborative. Specifically, with hazardous waste management, it was crucial to take care of safety and environmental aspects with attention to detail – and without the right tool, it was getting very difficult.

The implementation of CQ’s SafetyQuest happened within 8 weeks of signing the customer and it has enabled the company to continuously improve its end-to-end safety management workflows. It has played a pivotal role in minimizing safety-related risks by streamlining various processes including:

  • Safety inspections
  • Safety document management
  • Training
  • CAPA management
  • Risk assessments
  • Audits
  • Permit to Work automation

Download our whitepaper titled Enhancing Safety Outcomes in Your Organization: The Advantages of Shifting from Reactive to Proactive Behavior-based Safety (BBS) to implement a safety culture that is proactive and impactful.

Workplace Safety Inspections for Risk Reduction and Continuous Improvement

Periodic safety inspections help businesses with a thorough examination of the workplace to enable the identification and elimination of potential hazards. This reduces events and incidents that cause injuries, illnesses, and death. Generally, inspections are conducted to ensure fire safety, machine safety, and safety of the different work sites of the organization.

Inspections are mandated, in different industries by OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration), where safety is critical due to the use of hazardous materials and processes. Safety can be of two kinds, internal and external. Having periodic internal inspections helps prepare the organization to be ready for external inspections. It improves compliance and facilitates continuous improvement through proactive risk assessment and mitigation.

Inspections help to identify potential hazards and report them for further analysis such as the intensity of impact or the chances of reoccuring of the event. Based on risk assessment, safety leaders can take further action based on insights gathered during the inspections.

Some of the key outcomes of safety inspections include:

  • Identifying and recording potential health and safety hazards
  • Ensuring safety equipment and functioning
  • Observing the effectiveness of workplace safety practices
  • Interviewing workers to gather their insights into site safety and safety behavior
  • Assessing safety compliance levels
  • Recording observations for further analysis
  • Recommending corrective actions for highly hazardous situations

The recorded observations are shared with the safety team and the senior management for review and data-driven decision-making. This helps with the implementation of controls to mitigate risks and improve workplace safety through appropriate measures including change, training, supplier, and risk management.

Implementation of safety recommendations to reduce risks and continuously improve workplace safety reassures employees of leadership commitment and increases their productivity and safe behavior. This leads to a virtuous cycle of improved compliance, risk mitigation, and employee engagement - all of which contribute to better workplace safety.

Read the blog 5 Reasons Why Safety Culture Impacts Business KPIs to find out how safety improves business performance.

Safety Inspection Best Practices for Continuous Improvement

The quality of safety inspections is as important as the quantity - that is, the number of inspections conducted. This requires a clear vision and understanding of the goal of the inspection and planning the process in detail to ensure meaningful outcomes.

Some of the best practices include:

  • Plan the Inspection: Which part of the site is going to be inspected, what functions does it perform, and what aspects need particular attention - these must be identified first to drive the planning process.
  • Prepare Suitable Checklists: Each zone or site may have multitudinous aspects to be observed and noted. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that nothing is missed. A checklist is a handy and simple tool that can help the inspectors ensure the area is covered properly and thoroughly.
  • Schedule and Set Agenda: How often the zone/site needs to be inspected will depend on the hazard potential of the place. Some may need an inspection weekly, some quarterly, and some yearly. This is very important so that no hazardous area is missed. While scheduling, the time duration to inspect each location must also be fixed so that the inspectors and the workers can be ready and the production schedules adjusted accordingly.
  • Train the Inspectors: The inspectors must be aware of the potential hazards of the area they are inspecting so that they can observe and record the right things. Training them to ask questions to the employees is also just as important to gather insights.
  • Have a Point of Contact: At the site level, a point of contact who can be with the inspectors to answer questions or take them through the site is also very important. At this juncture, it is also important to assess whether the manager, an SME, or a legal expert needs to be present.
  • Communicate and Collaborate: The findings of the inspection must be shared with the relevant stakeholders so that they can deliberate on it, identify high-risk hazards, and implement appropriate controls. The controls must be shared with the respective teams and any training provided as required.
  • Track and Monitor: The impact of the corrective action must also be tracked to ensure it has the desired effect. If not, mid-course correction may be required.
  • Compare Notes: Inspectors must also make themselves familiar with the case history of the site to ensure that any hazards reported in the past have been effectively mitigated.
  • Training: Based on the observations, the skill gaps can be identified and appropriate training could be planned and delivered to upskill the worker.

All these help with continuous improvement and risk reduction, improving workplace safety, worker engagement, and customer satisfaction.

Highly Engaged Workers: The Key to Better Safety Management Read this blog for insights into improving employee engagement

ComplianceQuest EHS for Safety Inspections

ComplianceQuest EHS is a Safety Solution that helps businesses automate their safety inspection workflows for greater efficiency and collaboration. Built on Salesforce, it provides centralized access to safety-related data that can help with the planning, scheduling, and recording of observations. It provides decision-makers with the insights needed to make informed decisions and take relevant action to improve workplace safety and compliance.

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