Why Use a Checklist for Your Inspections?

Performing inspections is one of the most important jobs of a safety manager. Even in cases when the actual inspections aren’t directly performed by the safety manager, he or she will still be responsible for reviewing the results and taking action where necessary. Unfortunately, for many facilities, an inspection ends up being little more than a walk through an area by someone who really doesn’t know exactly what they should be looking for.

Watching for generic problems like leaky pipes or machinery left unattended often becomes the focus of an inspection, even though these are things that should be fixed without even needing to be listed on an inspector’s sheet.

Safety managers should take the time to create high quality checklists to help identify exactly what types of things need to be looked at in each area. They should be unique based on the facility that is being inspected, and even the different parts of each facility may need their own custom sections. These checklists can then be used by the safety manager, or anyone he or she delegates, to perform an inspection that actually gathers valuable, actionable data.

Why Use a Checklist

Checklists are one of those tools that just about everyone uses for one thing or another. Whether it is while grocery shopping, making lists of who to send Christmas cards to, or managing the safety of a facility. Checklists help ensure you don’t miss anything important. When performing an inspection, most people will be constantly looking around for problems. If they don’t have a list of the items that must be looked at specifically, they can easily go overlooked. This can, of course, lead to some significant problems in terms of safety and quality.

A checklist allows the safety manager, or a delegate, to make sure they are covering at least the minimum required items. In addition, it puts a name to the person who is responsible in case anything was missed. This creates an environment of accountability within the facility, which is very important for improving overall safety. Finally, checklists also provide data which can be used for audits of a facility or even investigations after an accident. Storing the completed checklists allows a facility to have records of what was looked at, and when.

Using the Correct Checklist

It really isn’t enough to just use any checklist when performing a safety inspection. It is essential to use the right checklist for the job. In most cases, a generic list of common problems for facilities won’t be enough. Creating a custom list will help really identify exactly where potential problems exist, and make sure the safety measures are put in place to prevent them. While it isn’t possible to list exact items that should be on every safety inspection checklist, the following concepts will give some guidance:

  • Every Essential Component – A checklist should include a check box for every critical safety component of a facility.
  • Severity Levels – A checklist should provide the inspector information on what types of problems will require immediate intervention (including the machinery in question being shut down) and which ones will only require preventative maintenance to take place in the future.
  • Logical Order – Sort the checklist items in a way that makes sense based on how the inspection is done.
  • Accountability – The individual doing the inspection’s name should be clearly listed on each page, as well as their signature acknowledging that they performed the inspection themselves.
  • Efficient – While it is most important to make sure nothing is missed, a checklist should also be efficient to use. Consider the advantages of using a digital checklist on a mobile tablet vs. a paper checklist.

You could use this OSHA Inspection Preparation Checklist as a good starting point!

Additional Resources