OSHA’s new fact sheet, Safety Walk-Arounds for Managers, serves as a guide for conducting inspections that can help you assess the effectiveness of your current safety and health programs. While creating safety policies and conducting trainings should be left to the experts, it should become commonplace and habitual for managers to conduct safety walk-arounds. That being said, managers cannot and should not be left to their own devices to define practices and procedures that are considered safe and unsafe. For this reason, a safety checklist and preparation guide should be provided by the company so that they can focus on the equipment, operators and practices that are of greatest concern and require regular evaluation.
In OSHA’s fact sheet, walk-around inspections are segmented into three easy steps that logically address actions to occur before, during and after an inspection. The sheet covers the three stages as follows:
Stage 1 – Before Inspection
Pre-inspection and preparation is important because your manager will not only establish a baseline, but they can also review and be ready to address hazards that have historically been an issue on job sites. The manager will need to be familiar with daily operations and the hazards to which crews have been most susceptible. They can do this by reviewing past inspection reports, injury records, workers’ compensation reports and more. The early stage prior to inspection is also a good time for managers to become acquainted and have meaningful conversations with other managers and supervisors about any concerns or hazards that they have identified or addressed. Prior to conducting the inspection, the manager will also need to determine the equipment required to complete the inspection and become familiar with any safety training that workers have already fulfilled.
Stage 2 – During Inspection
When onsite, OSHA stresses the importance of managers leading by example. This can be as simple as wearing the right PPE for each area entered and demonstrating proper conduct. The group inspecting the site should be small and allow open communication with team members. The inspector(s) should be aware, observe and identify hazards as they make their way through different areas; such hazards as described by OSHA include but are not limited to “tripping hazards, blocked exits, frayed/exposed electrical wires, missing machine guards, poor housekeeping, poorly maintained equipment.” Inspectors should look for any property damage and talk to workers about hazards and issues that they have identified or addressed on the job.
Observation is not limited to the physical condition of the job site – The team members who work on site are the most important to interview and observe. What do they consider to be the greatest hazards? Have they ever been injured, and what safety measures have been taken to ensure that there isn’t a repeat incident? Talking to crews and establishing open communication is vital to the success of any inspection, and observing them as they work to ensure they are handling materials and moving on the job site safely is essential. As the manager observes, communicates and reviews the condition of the job site and workers’ practices and activities, he/she must make a list of hazards that need to be addressed, making those issues that pose immediate threats or have severe consequences top priority.
Stage 3 – After Inspection
Follow-up is important in any aspect of your business, but when it comes to safety inspections, your inspection is only as good as your follow-up. By taking action on outstanding safety concerns and making appropriate adjustments to job sites and policies, your team will know that their safety is taken seriously and that you are making their health and safety a top priority. OSHA suggests that soon after your inspection, “you prepare an abatement plan containing a list of the hazards found, corrective actions needed, and a reasonable timeline for implementation.” Moving forward you will want to track progress and post periodic updates as necessary. Your safety plan and policies will evolve and improve as your company and crews become better trained in safety and more aware of how to prevent accidents and hazards on the job.
To learn more about roofing safety training and programs, visit Brauner Safety Services. To schedule your next safety training, contact Jim Brauner: 407-403-3959.