Why Contractors and/or Employers do Health and Safety Inspections
Most organisations conduct frequent and periodic safety inspections. Even though a lot of people are aware that such inspections are done, few realise why contractors and/or employers do health and safety inspections, or what purpose they serve.
A lot of people may think that the answer relates to “because we have to.” This is partially correct as safety is driven by compliance, either to a regulation or a company policy. Compliance is a factor along with it being one which is developed with a specific purpose in mind.
The Occupational Health and Safety Act is noticeably clear that employers must provide a work environment for employees which is free from recognizable hazards that cause, or are likely to cause, death or serious harm to employees.
For this reason, work site inspections serve as the vehicle to record all hazards and to document abatement. When workplace safety inspections are conducted with the attitude of “because we care”, they serve a greater purpose than merely meeting compliance requirements.
Health and safety inspections can become a vital part in the efforts to prevent accidents and incidents when they are conducted well. They can also reassure employees that the workplace is consistently safe and help the employer display an attitude of care.
To ensure that this happens, there is a robust process necessary. For this reason, the methodology involving four foundations can be applied, namely plan, do, study, and act.
Understanding the Deming Cycle
It has already been established that the purpose of health and safety inspections is that it must be more than just to comply. The purpose of such inspections must be to prevent injuries and with that in mind, the expectation must revolve around detailed, critical observations of all areas at a frequency which will allow for trending of patterns.
With the expansion on the purpose along with expectations, it may become clear that frequency and the breadth of current inspections is not enough, and it will need to be adapted to conform with new requirements.
The plan must be implemented to make use of the data collected and it must be more than just a box ticking exercise. Tracking and trending of findings are a proven way to meet the revised purpose of injury prevention. In addition, the planning elements must be communicated to all employees so that the purpose of the inspection is clear.
The first step in this phase is associated with the development of an inspection strategy which is comprehensive. It must clearly define who will conduct the inspections, the frequency thereof, what must be observed, and where are they to be done.
The collection of data in the previous step is merely the beginning. Once the data has been collected, all data must be reviewed. It is necessary to employ a data use plan to ensure that all data is reviewed frequently and periodically, and that actions are taken towards improvement.
The idea of this is to identify any gaps in the data, or where there is something which is not being done, that should be. A trend is something which can be identified repeatedly, and it is likely to continue until the causal factors for the system is identified and subsequently remedied.
This is the last step in the continuous improvement loop. Action is a driving force for accountability, and it can include the simplest of things including providing feedback or sharing information on trends.
Action can also provide more complex solutions such as revisions on the way in which work is performed. It may even drive the use of data as evidence in a decision which is driven by data, such as a request involving large capital expenditure.
How can SafetyWallet help Employers and Contractors’ Health and Safety Compliance?
SafetyWallet works to ensure that its subscribers are supported and assisted in all matters relating to health and safety, and through a partnership with MAKROSAFE and OHS Online, subscribers can ensure that they are a part in creating a safer, healthier, and more compliant working environment. To find out how you can ensure employer and contractor’s Health and Safety compliance, click here.
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