Safety Checklists

Health and Safety Representative Inspection Checklist

Due to popular demand, we return to an example of a section of a health and safety representative inspection checklist.

It is important to notice that there is a BIG difference between an inspection and an audit. The differences are:

  1. Inspection takes place more frequently (hourly, daily, weekly) whereas an audit takes place less frequently (every 3 or 6 months).
  2. Inspection is done by the employee and an audit is done by a senior employee.
  3. Inspection covers detail and everything while an audit is a sampling process to verify that inspections where done correctly.

Successful completion of health and safety representative inspections, require application of these basic principles:

  • Enter full names and surnames, not nicknames.
  • Enter full dates and times, in a logical sequence, such as the format dd, mm, yyyy, am/pm or 13:00.
  • Fill all spaces in ink, to prevent tampering with the checklist.
  • Enter words, like Yes, No, N/A (not applicable), or cross out the finding that is not applicable. Do not use tick marks, since tick marks could be changed to crosses.
  • Write neatly and legibly.
  • Explain 'No' in the comment column. Describe what is wrong, where the problem is, and what is required.
  • Allocate sufficient time.
  • Remain calm and relaxed during inspection.
  • Find facts, not faults, and avoid arguments.
  • Give compliments where due. Bear the importance of the inspection in mind.
  • Vary inspection times to avoid routine window-dressing. Do not inspect during peak job times.
  • Keep your cell phone off.
  • Wear appropriate PPE and follow site safety rules.
  • Obtain permission and support from the site manager in advance.
Health and safety representatives are part of the Sheq management system, and act to pro-actively identify possible loopholes in the system. They are on your side, looking for opportunities for continual improvement to keep the workplace free from manageable hazards and risks that may affect your health, safety and profitability. Give them your full support.

Checklist or inspection forms must be customised according to the requirements of the industry, the site, and the specific area to be inspected. An example of a section of an inspection checklist is illustrated here.

Additional loop-holes to keep in mind are:

  • Balancing 'health' and 'safety' requirements in the checklist and not only focusing on 'safety' issues.
  • Continually upgrading the checklist to reflect changes in the working environment.
  • When inspecting offices - an ergonomics checklist should be added to the standard checklist to include the area specific requirements.
  • Customization of checklists are a must to ensure:
    1. That the content is applicable
    2. That unnecessary time is not wasted on irrelevant issues
    3. An oversight of critical elements are not encountered
The developers of the checklists must be competent and one person MUST NOT design and develop this tool on his/her own.

To be on the look-out for patterns:

  1. Ticking exercise that was done quickly as in yesterday, but for the whole year.
  2. A problem area that has not been attended to for 3 or more months in a row.
  3. Management not signing the inspection checklist (commitment).
The Health and Safety representative inspection is the first line of preventive action to pro-actively determine possible problems in the system. It MUST NOT be neglected or downplayed.

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Alexandr Grigorev

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