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Conducting self-inspections: Two methods

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Inspections are an important part of any workplace safety and health management system. Described in a video from the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Division of Labor and Industry as the practice of “identifying unsafe conditions through observations and testing of the work environment,” inspections can cover housekeeping, emergency alarms, electrical hazards, machine guarding and chemical hazards.

One method is a daily informal inspection. The video offers an example: An employee can start their workday by inspecting their work area for slip, trip or fall hazards. “A supervisor or manager may then follow up with the employee regarding what was found.”

A formal inspection is another method. This type of inspection could be conducted weekly, monthly or quarterly. What makes it “formal”? It should be performed by experts who are knowledgeable in the subject matter and have the ability to recognize unsafe conditions. Inspecting complex machinery, for example, should always be conducted as a formal inspection, Maryland DLI says.

Once an inspection is completed, “an authorized individual should ensure corrections are made in a timely manner.” If a long-term solution is needed, Maryland DLI recommends putting interim controls in place. If an issue is severe, workers should be removed depending on the level of severity.

To help increase accountability and worker trust in your safety and health management program, share findings from inspections via bulletin boards in common areas and during safety meetings, or by sending emails or texts.

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