February 22, 2020

Understanding Workplace Inspections

Workplace inspections were formed in Canada by the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHS&A) to prevent injuries, incidents, illnesses, and in extreme cases, death. These inspections help Canadian businesses identify hazards that pose a risk to worker safety and help establish preventative controls that can be used for corrective action. They are typically conducted by inspectors that enforce the OHS&A regulations and can occur by either planned or surprise visits. Because of this, it’s important to know what they assess and how to be ready.

What is Assessed?

Inspections typically address the who, what, where, when and how of any hazards that may occur and help us monitor the effectiveness of our control over them. Many types of hazards that are addressed are safety, biological, chemical, ergonomic, physical and psychosocial hazards and they all must follow the regulations under the OHS&A.

Some examples of these hazards and how they are categorized, are:

Safety. Safety concerns caused by inadequate machine guards, unsafe workplace conditions, and not adhering to required workplace practices such as not wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment.

Biological. Hazards caused by organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.

Chemical. These include hazards caused by a solid, liquid, vapour, gas, dust, fume or mist.

Ergonomic. Addresses repetitive and forceful movements, physical complications caused by improper work methods, and improperly designed workstations, tools, and equipment.

Physical. These include issues caused by noise, vibration, energy, weather, heat, cold, electricity, radiation and pressure.

Psychosocial. These hazards impact a person’s mental health or well-being. Examples include overworking, stress, bullying, or violence.

Are You Ready?

Conducting routine inspections regularly is an integral part of accident prevention. Not only does it provide a safer environment for employees but it also allows you and your team to be prepared for official inspections. Here are 4 steps to help you create a program that you and your employees can rely on.

Create a Plan of Action. Make your inspection team consist of the workplace manager, floor supervisor, an employee with good knowledge of the various processes and procedures, and a workplace representative. You can vary members of the team based on employee expertise and which areas are being inspected. With this team, develop a floor plan guide to identify specific equipment, workflow, storage, and key traffic areas.

Conduct a Physical Inspection. Have the team inspect the premises. No workplace is perfectly safe and there is always room for improvement. Be sure to keep an eye out for areas that are not typically used throughout the entire day, such as parking facilities, cafeterias, and locker rooms. This is most effectively executed by having a checklist that identifies all hazards.

One of the easiest items to check on the list is whether your employees are wearing their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE is used as temporary protection for workers against hazards. PPE usually depends on the work environment, conditions, and the process being performed, and includes items like goggles, hard hats, lab coats, gloves and safety shoes.

Utilize Reports. All checklist items that pose a threat need to be reported. Reports should be clear, concise and used to propose corrective actions. It’s crucial to keep a record of these reports and to stay updated on any changes that may have to be implemented.

Follow Up. Once the information is analyzed and corrective actions are proposed, they can be implemented. Assigning certain tasks to employees fosters a sense of duty and responsibility for the well-being and safety of the company. After all, we do spend most of our day at work!

If you are in the midst of inspecting your workplace and recognize that employees are not wearing the correct safety shoes as a part of the Personal Protective Equipment standards that must be met, contact us. We can work with you to find the best safety shoes and PPE for your sector, and ensure that your team is prepared not only for their work but for the next inspection. Visit our website for details!