By Ethan Davis
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.
Make a Self-Inspection of Your Business:
Begin a program of seIf-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.
This checklist is 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 may 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 control procedures.
Technical assistance in self-inspection may be available to you as a small business owner or manager through your in-surance 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 associa-tions, insurance companies and other similar service organizations. Note the following self-inspection checklists taken from OSHA’s publication entitled OSHA Handbook for Small Businesses.
The scope of your self-inspections should include the following:
Processing, Receiving, Shipping and Storage — equipment, job planning, layout, heights, floor loads, projection of materials, materials-handling and storage methods.
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, NEC 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, lock out, grounding, work space, location, purchasing standards.
Personnel — training, experience, methods of checking machines before use, type clothing, personal protective equipment, use of guards, tool storage, work practices, method of 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, toxicity or other harmful effects, warning signs, supervision, training, protective clothing and equipment.
Fire Prevention — extinguishers, alarms, sprinklers, smoking rules, exits, personnel assigned, separation of flammable materials and dangerous operations, explosive-proof fixtures in hazardous locations, waste disposal.
Maintenance — regularity, effectiveness, training of personnel, materials and equipment used, records maintained, method of locking out machinery, general methods.
Personal Protective Equipment — type, size, maintenance, repair, storage, assignment of responsibility, purchasing methods, standards observed, training in care and use, rules of use, method of assignment.