One of the primary responsibilities of any business is to ensure the safety of and wellbeing of their staff while within the workplace. Not only is this a legal requirement but it is also important for the happiness of staff and their morale - no-one wants to work somewhere where they feel unsafe and that their employer doesn't care for their wellbeing. To check these responsibilities are being met, health and safety site inspections are carried out.
An inspection is a systematic way of ensuring that the workplace meets the legal standards and that all procedures carried out within it are safe for the workers. An inspection will identify any hazards within the building to which the employer will be required to take steps to rectify. These inspections can be formal or informal, recorded or unrecorded but are done with a set frequency.
They are a legal requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and if the checks aren't undertaken, then HSE can become involved, with the worst case scenario leading to prosecution and associated costs.
There are different options open as to who carries out the inspections. External inspections are carried out by enforcement officers, consultants or other specialists while insurers may also require the checks to be carried out by their personnel. Internal inspections can be carried out by employers, employees and even safety representatives from Trade Unions.
One way to organise inspections internally is for managers to look into areas that they are responsible for. This is because the manager is better equipped to spot potential problems and find solutions within their work area.
A random pattern of inspections has proven to be the most successful as no-one knows when these will take place and short term fixes cannot be put into place.
Checks carried out include checking for safe conditions within the building and identify hazardous conditions. Measures can be then put into place to deal with those potential hazards such as a fall protection plan with appropriate fall protection equipment.
If you are carrying out an internal inspection on your business or having something within it do so, there are a few good practice measures to take into account. There should always be an aim or purpose for the inspection. Beforehand, you should decide:
What needs to be inspected?
How often the inspection needs to be carried out?
Who will be conducting the inspection?
What are the specific aims are or what standards are to be examined?
Any relevant local or legal requirements?
So the inspection may focus on unsafe conditions and acts. This could range from floors, faulty equipment or a failure to wear PPE. Checklists should be formed of what should be checked and highlight problems discovered. Details of what safe conditions look like should also be prepared beforehand.
Workplace safety is one of the most important employer responsibilities and one that can have a very serious repercussions to prevent accidents, falls or other injuries and to ensure when the random external check comes along, everything is in place.