First Impressions count

By QRMC / Posted on June 13, 2017

First Impressions Count: The use of visual observations during HSE auditing

Visual observation is the probably the simplest, the most basic, yet most under-valued way of obtaining evidence for a safety audit. There is a wealth of knowledge that can be gleaned from stepping inside a workplace and taking a look around.

Some key areas within the workplace include:

Signing-in – As the point of entry to the organisation, the signing-in process sets the scene and because of this, the person facilitating this process needs to be fully informed of the safety requirements & what is expected of those visiting the site.

PPE – While it is least effective as a control measure, PPE is still relied on across virtually all industries, therefore there is a need to check if the PPE being worn matches the site requirements.  Is the PPE in good condition? Is it worn properly and consistently by everyone, including Management and Contractors?

Housekeeping – It doesn’t take a HSE professional to identify a mess, but problems with housekeeping and clutter are frequently symptoms of larger issues. A lack of housekeeping often points to problems with systems, processes, and workplace safety culture.

Uncontrolled documents – Typically these are the informal work instructions that are posted on the wall next to a piece of plant, or the process flow at the communal workstation stepping workers through how to log a hazard report. If it is important enough to be posted on the wall, then it is important enough to be properly document controlled.

Evidence of machinery scrapes and scratches – This tends to be seen with plant such as forklifts and construction equipment, on sites involving vehicle movement. The damage flags the need to learn from “near miss” incidents. These scrapes are a reflection of the organisation’s risk controls, including operator training processes and their attitude toward corrective maintenance.

Improvised fixes and temporary repairs – How long has that orange hazard tape been there? Always an interesting question to ask, and these types of indicators can be evidence that the preventative maintenance program is not being carried out or that the resourcing level is inadequate.

Please contact QRMC for more information about our auditing services.


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