DOS & DON’TS: [X] Don’t Ignore Hazards Identified in Safety Inspections

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The OHS laws in every jurisdiction require regular inspections of the workplace. (Here are five tips to improve the effectiveness of your workplace inspections.) One of the principal purposes of such inspections is to identify existing safety hazards and potential hazards. But simply identifying hazards isn’t enough. You must also take steps to address any hazards identified in an inspection, such as by repairing broken equipment, installing machine guards and posting signs warning of vehicular traffic. Failing to address these hazards could endanger workers and result in safety violations.

That’s what recently happened to a steel fabricating company in Newfoundland. A worker was assigned to paint a fabricated trailer. The positioning hook used to lift and hold the trailer in place broke, causing the trailer to strike the worker and knock him to the ground. He suffered soft tissue injuries to his side and back and required stitches to his head. The company was charged with six OHS violations—including failing to ensure that unsafe conditions found during an inspection, which the company was required to conduct, were addressed [Steelfab Industries Ltd., Govt. News Release, Feb. 5, 2013].

Insider Says: For information on the role of JHSCs in inspections, see “The Joint Health and Safety Committee, Part 1: The Committee’s Role in Workplace Inspections” and “The Joint Health and Safety Committee, Part 2: Five Steps for Effective Workplace Inspections.” And at Safety Smart, you can get a safety talk on how everyone in the workplace is a safety inspector. Not a subscriber to SafetySmart? Sign up for a free trial.