Safety walk-arounds are an excellent way for management to demonstrate commitment to improving the safety of the organization. These inspections put them in the field to observe work in progress, understand how safely the work employees are responsible for is performed and assess how key elements of the safety program are working.
These are a few general guidelines to help make your safety walk-arounds a worthwhile experience.
Preparing for the inspection
- An effective walk-around requires management time and commitment so you want to make sure you pick activities worth watching such as high-risk work or operations with a history of accidents.
- Make sure employees know what to expect and understand that these are no-blame observations. The goal is to improve safety, and this is an opportunity to build rapport with your workers.
- Take the time to familiarize yourself with the workplace and operations and the hazards that have been previously identified.
Activities OSHA suggests:
- Look at past inspection reports, injury and worker’s compensation records, incident investigation reports and recent near-miss incidents. This should help you identify activities worth watching.
- Talk with workplace safety representatives and your company’s safety committee to learn about their safety observations and concerns.
- Determine what safety equipment you will need to conduct the inspection.
- Take the same hazard identification safety training that workers, managers or the safety committee has taken.
Conducting the inspection
Keep safety top of mind. Wear the right PPE for each area you enter. Ensure it fits and you know how to wear it properly.
Keep your eyes open.
- Tripping hazards
- Blocked exits
- Frayed/exposed electrical wires
- Missing machine guards
- Poor housekeeping
- Poorly maintained equipment
- Look for walls or doors damaged by equipment or forklifts. This could be a sign of a future hazard.
Be sure to involve your workers both seasoned and new hires. They are doing the jobs and will know the most about the hazards and safety issues they face. Talk with them, but also observe them performing their job.
Make a list of hazards that need to be addressed.
Follow up after an inspection is an important step. You can easily lose credibility if you miss doing this.
Prepare an abatement plan containing a list of the hazards found, corrective actions needed and a reasonable timeline for implementation. Be sure to share this with managers, supervisors and workers so that everyone is on the same page.