Workplace inspections are one of the primary functions of the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, s.9(23), the JHSC must designate a worker member to inspect the workplace. If possible, the worker should be a certified member of the JHSC (i.e., they’ve completed their JHSC Part 1 and Part 2 training, s.9(24)). The worker member must inspect the physical condition at least once a month (s.9(26)).
The purpose of the monthly inspection is to identify hazards and monitor current work practices to ensure the safety of all workers. Workplace inspections determine:
If a hazard is present
Which workers are exposed or likely to be exposed
Any workers who have been subject to illness or injury
If established health and safety procedures and processes are being followed
In this four-part series, we will be examining the four stages of a workplace inspection:
Part 1: Preparing for an Inspection
Once the area being inspected is determined, JHSC members will require area-specific knowledge. Prior to the inspection, the JHSC inspector(s) should be familiar with:
What goes on in the area
Work processes used
Any established deviations from safe work practices
Without a sound and solid understanding of what to expect in the work area, it would be difficult to recognize potential hazards or departures from safe work.
Common Inspection Tools
There are tools that can help JHSC members conduct workplace inspections in an efficient and productive manner. Common inspection tools include:
A Workplace Inspection Checklist
A checklist provides focus and clarifies inspection items. It also helps to ensure nothing is missed!
A Floor Plan
A floor plan helps identify physical elements of the workplace, including hazardous areas and other areas of special note. If a floor plan doesn’t match what the inspector sees, this needs to be reported.
Inventory of materials is a complete list of all materials with the potential to cause adverse health effects. It should include material by-products, controls, and all relevant SDSs.
The JHSC must have access to all equipment records prior to the inspection, including power sources, the location of guarding, maintenance schedules, lockout procedures, and/or pre-shift inspection and any other inspection reports.
A flow chart for any processes used in the workplace can help JHSC inspectors identify hazards by viewing processes sequentially, rather than as a snapshot of what’s happing immediately.
JHSC workplace inspectors that are well prepared in advance of conducting an inspection will find the task of completing an inspection enjoyable, productive, and useful. Proper preparation will lend itself to better hazard identification, which has the potential to save a life.