“Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) relates to the health, safety, and welfare of people in the working environment. These people are not only the workers, but also employers, customers and family members who may be affected by any occupational hazard leading to injury or ill health.”
Occupational Health and Safety is a multi-faceted and complex responsibility that requires micro detail on a macro scale. Keeping track of all the details and standards can be daunting, if not impossible, without expertly trained Health and Safety Officers, and even then, with the help of as many resources, guidelines, and experience as possible.
Checklists is a tool that can be used to reinforce all aspects of a holistic health and safety practise to help organizations track and comply with safety regulations. Using checklist templates in regular inspections is a pro-active way to maintain continuity in the application of standards, as well as form an auditable trail in the resolution or improvement of identified hazards or risks. They can also be used to implement the latest changes and best practices to improve health and safety practises in the workplace.
Before creating your checklists, keep the following things in mind:
- Research the health and safety regulations that apply to the industry in which you operate.
- Group all the regulations that apply to your industry and workplace together. For example, all regulations pertaining to equipment should be grouped together. This will allow easy access to employees to find the regulation for the equipment they use.
- Format the checklists into easy-to-use pages for review. Include boxes next to each item on the list to clearly mark that the item has been checked, as well as any notes applicable to that item. Also provide a space on the page for the date and the signature of the person doing the checks.
- File the checklists in an accessible place for anyone to reference, including employees, managers, and health and safety inspectors. Add translations to all terms in the checklists to the file to ensure accessibility of the necessary information to all employees.
The following list includes basic areas on which to focus in your workplace safety checklists:
Floors must be clear and kept in good repair. Action must be taken on any hazard that could cause tripping or slipping, such as debris, liquid spillage, or loose floor coverings.
Staircases and landings must be in good repair, clear of obstructions and well lit.
Lighting must be functional and adequate for the safe operation of equipment and navigation of the work environment. Lighting in office spaces with computer workers should also be free from glare to prevent eyestrain. Outdoor light is important to create a safe area around the office or work site for employees and visitors.
4) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Adequate supplies of PPE should be maintained and easily available to employees. This may include goggles, hard hats, gloves, footwear, or protective outerwear. Make sure all employees using PPE are trained in the correct use of the PPE and are adhering to the training. All PPE should fit the employee to ensure the necessary protection.
5) Emergency Procedures and First-Aid
Employees should be trained in emergency procedures, not only in case of fire but also in the case where a co-worker is injured. All emergency exits must be marked and signage with emergency contact numbers must be posted in plain sight. First-Aid kits must be fully stocked and easily accessible.
6) Machines and Power Tools
All machines and power tools must be inspected regularly for fault or damage. Check that all machine guards and protective pieces are in place. Make sure that all employees are trained in the proper use and safety of the equipment prior to allowing them to work with the equipment. These items are important starting points in the formulation of a health and safety checklist. Scheduling regular inspections of the workplace using these checklists will help identify and eliminate potential hazards and keep employees and visitors safe and in compliance with the company’s policies.