What do you do before inspecting?

In an earlier post, I identified several things that you will need to review before conducting an inspection. In this post, I go over the preparation that you will need to do before conducting an inspection.

A good place to go for help with any facility inspection is to get a copy of the facility list from management. This list will tell you what facilities belong to your organization. You will then need to look at the operations conducted in the facilities and determine a rank order of low, medium, or high based on hazard risk. Start out with the most obvious, hazardous material. Make a list of all the facilities that use hazardous materials in their work. Get a copy of the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for each chemical. This is done even for workplaces that use one chemical. The SDS is a document that provides basic information about the health hazards, fire, first-aid measures, protective clothing and equipment, and transportation requirements for the hazardous substance being used. If the SDS is missing, you can contact the company that sold you the product, and they will usually fax or email you one.

If your organization has heavy machinery go on to identify those operations “that require the use of presses, cutting tools, welding, drilling, smelting, or overhead cranes” (Fanning, 2003). These all have the potential for serious personal injuries and property damage.

Next, identify those operations that have a health risk present. Health risks involve things like high levels of noise, LASER lights, use of gasses, confined spaces, and painting.

Take your list of facilities and identify all those facilities or operations that involve a high hazard. High hazards may cause a partial or permanent disability or may even lead to death. High hazards may also cause significant damage to a tool or piece of equipment or may cause the loss of the whole system. Also, high hazards may cause serious illnesses that may lead to disabilities or death. For those reasons, high hazards should be inspected monthly.

“Then make a second list of facilities or operations that involve medium hazard operations. A medium hazard will normally result in an injury that will require medical treatment, property damage of medium value, and may cause occupational illnesses” (Fanning, 2003). For those reasons, medium hazards should be inspected quarterly.

“Lastly, make a list of low hazard operations and facilities. A low hazard will normally result in a first-aid injury, minor property damage and no illnesses” (Fanning, 2003). For those reasons, low hazards should be inspected annually.

Now that you have a frequency to conduct your inspections, you will want to develop the schedule. “You should send this schedule of inspections out so everyone can have a head start on planning” (Fanning, 2003). Take your schedule and notify the supervisor or division chief at least six weeks ahead of time so they will have plenty of time to make themselves “available and locate the keys and people you need to see. You should do this by sending out a letter announcing the inspection and asking for a commitment to the date you have listed or “request a date that is better for them” (Fanning, 2003). Also, request “that you be given a few minutes of the supervisors or division chief’s time for an informal in‑briefing and out briefing” (Fanning, 2003).

A week or two before an inspection is scheduled, you will need to review those things I outlined in Chapter 1. Accident reports can tell you the hazards that caused the accident. Construction drawings can tell you about planned changes in the workplace that could introduce hazards. Employee physicals and medical reports can tell you, for example, who is cleared to wear respirators or who has sustained a back injury. Previous inspection reports can be a gold mine of information. By reviewing them, you can identify things to look for. A Job Hazard Analysis also provides details on hazards that were identified. Equipment Analysis and Purchase Reviews show you changes in hardware and material that can introduce hazards into the workplace.

Now show up on time, ready to conduct the inspection.


Fanning, Fred. Basic Safety Administration: A Handbook for the New Safety Specialist. American Society of Safety Engineers, 2nd edition, Des Plaines, USA, Jun 2003.


About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning currently writes biweekly on his blog fredefanningauthor.com. His published works include the peer-reviewed book Basic Safety Administration-A Handbook for the New Safety Specialist. Fred also authored two editions of the peer-reviewed chapter Safety Training and Documentation Principles that was published in the bestselling Safety Professional Handbook and the Safety Professional Handbook Management Applications. He coauthored the peer-reviewed chapter Safety Training with Christine Fiori, Ph.D., PE, published in the bestselling Construction Safety Management and Engineering, second edition edited by Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP. Fred also has several self-published books. He has a series called Fred’s Safety Shorts. This is a collection of twelve books on topics related to safety published with Kindle Direct Publishing. Fred self-published another six books using both CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and Kindle Direct Publishing. He has authored fifty-eight articles in various publications on the topics of safety and health and project management. Fred has earned several writing awards for his non-fiction work. Fred has two novels A Walk Among the Dead and Mystery at Devil’s Elbow.
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