Health and safety inspections provide feedback on health and safety performance. A programme can provide assurance that workplace precautions are effective and being used as intended and, where this isn’t the case, enable remedial action to be taken.
An inspection programme can be directed toward monitoring the achievement of specific plans or objectives, the operation of management system and systems of work, and compliance with adopted performance standards.
Departments are responsible for setting and performing a suitable health and safety inspection programme for the area and activities that they control.
What is an Inspection Programme?
An inspection programme is a systematic check or premises, plant and equipment by staff to ensure the effective operation of workplace precautions. The programme includes making recommendations to correct any problems found and tracking them to completion.
What does an Inspection Programme entail?
An inspection programme can be broken down into five simple steps:
- Decide what checks need to be made and how frequently
- Make a schedule of checks and inspections
- Perform the inspections & record the findings
- Act on the inspection results
- Review the inspection programme
Decide what checks need to be made and how frequently
When deciding what checks need to be made, Departments should consult their health and safety documentation. Past inspections and accident reports, risk assessments and written systems of work would be a good place to start. The checks might be for premises, equipment, operating procedures, behaviours or a combination of these. Some checks may need to be made more frequently than others.
Make a schedule of checks and inspections
Once the checks to be made have been identified, a schedule of checks to be made should be devised. It is good practice to allocate inspections to specific staff members and record the regime in the Departmental Health and Safety Handbook.
Perform the inspections & record the findings
Inspections and checks should be made as set out in the schedule and the findings recorded. Using a checklist – either a paper or electronic list – can assist record keeping. The record must record all the significant findings, both positive and negative.
Act on the inspection results
It is important to act on the inspection findings. It is good practice to publicise positive findings to enforce good behaviours and practices. Where improvements are needed, the inspector should make recommendations and track these to completion. It is good practice to report inspection findings and subsequent remedial action to the Departmental Health & Safety Committee or equivalent.
Review the inspection programme
The inspection programme must be reviewed annually to ensure that the checks made and the frequency of the checks remain relevant. The review must take into account past findings and recommendations. The review must take into account changes in activities, equipment and premises.
General health and Safety Inspection Standard
The General Health & Safety Inspection Standard provides a practical scheme for the performance of Departmental health and safety inspection programmes. The Standard should be read by Heads’ of Department who have to make arrangements for inspections. The Standard should also be read by anyone those charged with performing inspections on behalf of the Head (such as a Technical Supervisor or Safety Coordinator).