The most widely accepted way to identify hazards is to conduct safety and health inspections. The only way you can be certain of the actual situation is for you to look at it from time to time.
Begin a program of self-inspection in your own workplace. Self-inspection is a must if you are to know where probable hazards exist and whether they are under control.
Later in this Section, you will find checklists designed to assist you in this fact-finding. They will give you some indication of where you should begin action to make your business safer and more healthful for all of your employees.
These checklists are by no means all-inclusive. You may wish to add to them or delete portions that do not apply to your business. Consider carefully each item as you come to it and then make your decision.
Don't spend time with items that obviously have no application to your business. Make sure 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.
When you have completed the checklists, add this material to your injury information, your employee information, and your process and equipment information. You will now possess many facts that will help you determine what problems exist. Then, if you use the OSHA standards in your problem-solving process, it will be much easier for you to determine the action needed to solve these problems.
Once the hazards have been identified, you can institute the control procedures and establish your four-point safety and health program.
Technical assistance in self-inspection may be available to you as a small business owner or manager through your insurance carrier, the local safety council and many local, state, and federal agencies, including the state consultation programs and OSHA Area Offices. Additional checklists are available from the National Safety Council, trade associations, insurance companies, and other similar service organizations.
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.
- Housekeeping Program — waste disposal, tools, objects, materials, leakage and spillage, cleaning methods, schedules, work areas, remote areas, storage areas.
- Electricity — equipment, switches, breakers, fuses, switch-boxes, junctions, special fixtures, circuits, insulation, extensions, tools, motors, grounding, national electric code compliance.
- Lighting — type, intensity, controls, conditions, diffusion, location, glare and shadow control.
- Heating and Ventilation — type, effectiveness, temperature, humidity, controls, natural and artificial ventilation and exhausting.
- Machinery — 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.
- Personnel — 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.
- Chemicals — storage, handling, transportation, spills, disposals, amounts used, labeling, toxicity or other harmful effects, warning signs, supervision, training, protective clothing and equipment, hazard communication requirements.
- Fire Prevention — 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.
- Maintenance — 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.
- PPE — type, size, maintenance, repair, age, storage, assignment of responsibility, purchasing methods, standards observed, training in care and use, rules of use, method of assignment.
- Transportation — 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.
- Evacuation Plan — 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.
You will find a set of checklists in this section of the manual. You will use these checklist forms to conduct your workplace audit. Each form covers an individual work area, such as "Warehouse."
When you are ready to do the audit, photocopy the appropriate forms. Proceed to the first work area.
At the top of each form is a place for your designation of the location. For example, the form might be called "Chemical Storage Area," but in your facility this is Building D Annex. Fill in the location, the auditor's name and job title, and the date.
Go through the work area, looking for the items listed. If the item or practice is not in compliance with the regulations, check the appropriate box. Keep an eye open for unlisted items also. Remember, neither OSHA nor EPA spells out everything. There are many general requirements that apply everywhere. There are blank lines at the bottom of most forms to enable you to write in any specific details to be corrected.
The regulatory citations appear after most listings on the forms. If you need more information, or are confused as to the context of an item, you can go to the regulations and look up the actual wording.
After the audit is complete, the auditor makes necessary copies of the form. Transfer any necessary data to the summary sheet which is on the reverse side of the form. The original copy is filed, providing the necessary documentation for a variety of purposes, including corporate reviews, regulatory inspections, post-accident investigation reports, and insurance company requests.
Next, you can finish filling out the summary sheet, listing the repairs to be made or corrections to be made in work practices. You will have room to provide details on necessary corrections and how they should be accomplished. You will provide a date by which repairs must be made. Make any necessary copies of the summary sheet at this point.
The auditor then forwards copies of the form and summary sheet to the appropriate personnel to make the changes.
When corrections or changes are made, this is indicated on the form, along with the initials of the person making the repairs, and the date. One copy is then returned to the auditor with one copy retained by the supervisor or person responsible for making the changes.
This Eight-Step Method should provide a little Novocain for a "painful" process. At least, it offers a beginning and a tracking system for your documentation.
If this system does not work in your operation, modify it any way you choose. There are many different ways to audit and document the process. The method of auditing is not mandatory. Just get started.