The most widely accepted way to identify hazards is to conduct safety and health inspections because the only way to be certain of an actual situation is to look at it directly from time to time.
Begin a program of self-inspection in your own workplace. Self-inspection is essential if you are to know where probable hazards exist and whether they are under control.
Here are checklists designed to assist you in self-inspection fact-finding. The checklists can give you some indication of where to begin taking action to make your business safer and more healthful for all of your employees.
These checklists are by no means all-inclusive and not all of the checklists will apply to your business. You might want to start by selecting the areas that are most critical to your business, then expanding your self-inspection checklists over time to fully cover all areas that pertain to your business. Remember that a checklist is a tool to help, not a definitive statement of what is mandatory. Use checklists only for guidance.
Don't spend time with items that have no application to your business. Make sure that each item is seen by you or your designee and leave nothing to memory or chance. Write down what you see or don't see and what you think you should do about it.
Add information from your completed checklists to injury information, employee information, and process and equipment information to build a foundation to help you determine what problems exist. Then, as you use the OSHA standards in your problem-solving process, it will be easier for you to determine the actions needed to solve these problems.
Your self-inspections should cover safety and health issues in the following areas:
Processing, Receiving, Shipping and Storage
Equipment, job planning, layout, heights, floor loads, projection of materials, material handling and storage methods, training for material handling equipment.
Building and Grounds Conditions
Floors, walls, ceilings, exits, stairs, walkways, ramps, platforms, driveways, aisles.
Waste disposal, tools, objects, materials, leakage and spillage, cleaning methods, schedules, work areas, remote areas, storage areas.
Equipment, switches, breakers, fuses, switch-boxes, junctions, special fixtures, circuits, insulation, extensions, tools, motors, grounding, national electric code compliance.
Type, intensity, controls, conditions, diffusion, location, glare and shadow control.
Heating and Ventilation
Type, effectiveness, temperature, humidity, controls, natural and artificial ventilation and exhausting.
Points of operation, flywheels, gears, shafts, pulleys, key ways, belts, couplings, sprockets, chains, frames, controls, lighting for tools and equipment, brakes, exhausting, feeding, oiling, adjusting, maintenance, lockout/tagout, grounding, work space, location, purchasing standards.
Training, including hazard identification training; experience; methods of checking machines before use; type of clothing; PPE; use of guards; tool storage; work practices; methods for cleaning, oiling, or adjusting machinery.
Hand and Power Tools
Purchasing standards, inspection, storage, repair, types, maintenance, grounding, use and handling.
Storage, handling, transportation, spills, disposals, amounts used, labeling, toxicity or other harmful effects, warning signs, supervision, training, protective clothing and equipment, hazard communication requirements.
Extinguishers, alarms, sprinklers, smoking rules, exits, personnel assigned, separation of flammable materials and dangerous operations, explosion-proof fixtures in hazardous locations, waste disposal and training of personnel.
Provide regular and preventive maintenance on all equipment used at the worksite, recording all work performed on the machinery and by training personnel on the proper care and servicing of the equipment.
Type, size, maintenance, repair, age, storage, assignment of responsibility, purchasing methods, standards observed, training in care and use, rules of use, method of assignment.
Motor vehicle safety, seat belts, vehicle maintenance, safe driver programs.
First Aid Program/Supplies
Medical care facilities locations, posted emergency phone numbers, accessible first aid kits.
Establish and practice procedures for an emergency evacuation, e.g., fire, chemical/biological incidents, bomb threat; include escape procedures and routes, critical plant operations, employee accounting following an evacuation, rescue and medical duties and ways to report emergencies.
These checklists are by no means all-inclusive. You should add to them or delete items that do not apply to your business; however, carefully consider each item and then make your decision. You should refer to OSHA standards for specific guidance that may apply to your work situation. (Note: These checklists are typical for general industry but not for construction or maritime industries.)
Information courtesy of the U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration.