Safety Inspections Guidance
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Regular safety inspections are an important part of an organizations system for managing health and safety. The University health and safety policy recognizes this and requires Schools, Departments and Professional Service to carry out workplace inspections, at least annually. The actual frequency will depend upon geographical considerations, numbers employed and the degree of hazard based on the activities in the relevant School etc. A record of the inspection must be kept available on request.
It is a fundamental requirement of the policy that Heads of Schools and Professional Services set a local health and safety policy in order to assist in effectively managing health and safety. It follows that safety inspections and audits are part of the management structure. (See Section 3.6 of the University health and safety policy). The University policy statement also sets out the basic requirements of departmental health and safety inspections.
Purpose of Regular Inspections
Regular inspections provide a means for the department to measure safety performance against standards such as University safety policy or local safety procedures. They also serve to identify unsafe procedures and unsafe conditions and rectify them before an accident happens. They provide an opportunity to ensure that other, more specific checks and tests have been made at the appropriate intervals (e.g. on fume cupboards, LEV’s, microbiological safety cabinets, fire extinguishers, electrical equipment, pressure systems). They facilitate compliance with the University’s policy on risk assessment by identifying where risk assessments need to be completed.
Departments may find it convenient to spread the inspection effort required over a year, rather than attempting to deal with all areas of activity in one inspection.
Inspection may be carried out by only one person (usually the School or Departmental Safety Officer (SSO / DSO)), or by a small team (which can usefully include someone with specialist knowledge e.g. Radiation Safety Advisor or Laser Safety Officer). Team size should be restricted to three or four if the operation is not to become too unwieldy. There is no reason why members of departments should not be notified of inspection dates and times; they are more likely to be cooperative if they do not feel an attempt is being made to catch them out.
Schools and Services should monitor their own health and safety performance and highlight potential hazards by undertaking regular audits and inspections. The UH&SS will attend these inspections when requested but will undertake independent health, safety & environmental audits in line with a programme agreed by the Health, Safety & Environmental Committee.
A written report should be prepared which includes the date and scope of the inspection and the name(s) of those carrying it out. It should include details of any problems identified (their nature, location and severity), the action required to remedy those problems, with an indication of the priority attached to the task, the timescale and the person(s) responsible for remedial action. The report must also detail the arrangements for ensuring that recommendations for remedial action are acted upon.
A report of the inspection should go to the local safety committee who should make a point of discussing these reports at its meetings and ensuring that its recommendations have been acted upon.
Checklists can be valuable aids to inspection and many departments will already be successfully using one. Those who have not yet made their own may find the check list at Appendix 1 useful as a starting point. It is not intended to be comprehensive and each department should aim to prepare a checklist specific for its own premises and activities. It is important to use any checklist only as an aid, over reliance on it may constrain the inspection and lead to problems being missed.
All Schools, Professional Service are required to carry out safety inspections regularly, (e.g. annually). Heads of Schools etc should decide who should carry out the inspection. Safety Officers should ensure inspections are carried out at appropriate intervals and appropriate to the work activities undertaken, that the reports are discussed at the relevant safety committee and that they are forwarded to the Head of School, Professional Service.