Conducting regular self audits to identify, control and eliminate hazards pays off in worker satisfaction, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity, according to OSHA. These voluntary internal safety inspections also demonstrate a company's commitment to complying with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration Act of 1970. A checklist tailored for each work area or type of job serves as a hazard-identifying tool. Each version should cover the OSHA standards that apply to your company's operations and industry best practices.
Developing your OSHA safety checklist requires research time. A safety supervisor or appointed manager charged with conducting the inspections must compile the rules and safety regulations for each work area to be audited. OSHA recommends getting input from others involved including employees, and requesting guidance through an on-site OSHA consultation.
Some of the standards or regulations may not relate to your business; a person creating the checklist must identify the most relevant ones. Each rule is then written as a question. For example, if your facility has no stairs, the standards for stairway dimensions and railings don't apply, but the standard related to floor housekeeping does. The standard reads, The floor of every workroom shall be maintained in a clean and, so far as possible, a dry condition. Your checklist question based on this regulation might read like the one used by the South Carolina OSHA-Approved State Plan: "Are floors clean and dry? 1910.22(a)(1) & (2)."
Adapting Existing Checklists
OSHA has sample safety inspection checklists for general industry standards, certain organizations such as hospitals and poultry processing plants, and specific standards, such as safeguards that cover mechanical, non-mechanical and electrical hazards related to machinery. You may adapt these to your situation or take questions from them for your own checklist.
Each checklist needs space for detailed descriptions of hazards that might be found, their exact location, and the name and counts of any machinery involved. For record keeping, add lines for the auditor to sign and date, and to include details and to assign responsibility for any corrective actions needed.
Self-inspections may miss unsafe practices that aren't covered by a specific checklist question. To do a complete evaluation, OSHA recommends doing job hazard analyses to observe each step an employee takes to perform a task to learn if any procedures used are unsafe.
- Vivid Learning Systems: Safety Audits
- OshAcademy: Course 712 Study Guide; Safety Supervision and Leadership
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Occupational Safety and Health Standards; 1910.22 General Requirements
- Occupational Safety & Health Administration: Safety and Health Management Systems e-Tool