How to Identify Hazards at Your Workplace and Save Money
How safe is your workplace? Whether you are a manager or an employee, this is one question that should never be ignored. Making the workplace safe and secure involves tackling a wide range of issues, from injury and illness prevention to security against theft or fires.
All of these things can cost the company money, especially if no precautions have been taken in advance. The first step to making your workplace a safer place, and ultimately saving money, is to implement regular workplace inspections, which will help you to identify any hazards and introduce measures to improve conditions and abide by the required safety standards in your country or state.
Here are a few pointers to help you plan and carry out thorough and effective inspections in your workplace.
Identify the potential hazards you will be looking for
Because each workplace is different, each one will also present different types of health and safety hazards. For example, although an office environment may not make use of power tools or chemicals, there are still things that can be dangerous, such as a lack of an emergency contingency plan or unnecessarily stressful working conditions.
The following are some of the hazards you should be looking for during your inspections:
This can include everything from improper protective equipment when operating machinery or tools, work practices that put employees at risk or a lack of proper security measures, such as guards, security cameras or safes.
This covers any hazards that may be caused by organisms like viruses, parasites, bacteria and fungi.
These are hazards that can be caused by chemicals, whether they are solids, liquids, gasses, dust, vapors, fumes or mist.
These can include any physiological or psychological demands on employees, such as improper work stations or equipment resulting in bad posture, bad lighting causing straining of the eyes or repetitive and forceful movements.
Physical hazards may include excessive noise, harmful vibrations, extreme weather conditions, radiation or inadequate air-conditioning or heating systems.
Decide whether you will implement surprise inspections or prearranged inspections
Both of these types of inspections have their pros and cons, and you will have to decide which one you will use. You may also choose to carry out surprise inspections in between your scheduled ones.
Surprise inspections are useful if you are not often present in the workplace yourself, as it allows you to see how things operate when you are not around. With planned inspections, there is always the risk that things will be “cleaned up” only on the days when inspections are scheduled to take place.
On the other hand, scheduled inspections may be preferred in some cases, as they will not disrupt work and arrangements can be made in advance to clear out certain areas that need to be inspected or have proper technicians on hand who will be able to aid in the inspection.
Review all complaints before an inspection takes place
Employees are the ones who will know the most about the workplace safety, and if you have received any recent complaints from employees, they should be reviewed before the inspection so that they can be properly investigated.
The nature of the complaints will also give you a good idea of the potential problems in the workplace and can help you to focus your attention on the primary issues. If you haven’t received much feedback from your employees, consider using an anonymous survey that allows employees to give their opinions and feedback about what they feel needs improvement.
Also ensure that your employees always have access to the required safety standards so that they know what their rights are and can more easily spot potential problems when they crop up.
Use a checklist during inspection
After you have identified the hazards that you will be looking for during inspection, you should make a checklist that you can carry with you during inspection to ensure that you aren’t forgetting anything. You can put the checklist in question format, which allows you to answer a simple yes or no to each question as you make your way through the workplace.
Initially it will take some extra time to draw up a comprehensive checklist that applies to your workplace, but it will be worth it in the long run as you’ll be able to use the same checklist every time you carry out an inspection in the future.
Along with your checklist, be sure to keep detailed notes of anything that needs extra attention. If you identify any hazards during your inspection, the problem should be noted down, clearly stating what the hazard is, who is affected by it and where it is located.
If you are carrying out regular inspections every few months, it can be useful to check back on previous inspection reports and make sure that the issues that were identified a few months ago have been solved or fixed.
Put together a capable team of inspectors
Although you may personally be carrying out the inspections, it is also a good idea to include others who have more experience or knowledge in a particular area than you as you may not personally have sufficient knowledge about the statutory requirements for some aspects in your company.
If machinery needs to be inspected, you will need to have someone with a detailed knowledge of how it works and what the specific legal requirements are for that piece of machinery.
If your workplace is large or you have more than one location, you may even need to have more than one inspection team, and you may need to hire health professionals to inspect one area of the company, while an engineer would be more suited to assess another area.
How often you carry out a full inspection will depend on your company. If you find numerous hazards during each inspection, you will need to have them more often, whereas if you never come across anything hazardous you can consider having them just once a year.
Ally is part of the team that manages several personal finance sites in Sydney, Australia, which include Budgeting Spreadsheet and How To Save Money. Before joining the BS & HTSM, she was a Media Planner in McCann Worldgroup Philippines, Inc., wherein she had the opportunity to work on innovative and globally recognized outdoor advertising executions.