There are a number of ways to help assess any health and safety hazards in your workplace, including the use of checklists.

Project documentation | 23 July 2014
How to use the checklist? Basically you want to know the following:

  • How safe is your workplace?
  • What are the major health and safety problems?
  • What are the priorities?
  • How can the hazards be controlled?
  • What are the cost implications?
  • What does the law require?
  • How can the workers be involved?
  • How can a health and safety policy be developed and implemented for the benefit of management and workers?

As a start, you have to look closely at your own workplace and construct a picture of any potential hazards and risks. You can develop risk maps or plans for each section/floor of your workplace that are put on file for future reference. Any changes (such as new machine guards on the machines or the use of safer chemicals) must be recorded. In other words you are constructing a diagrammatic overview of the state of occupational safety and health (OSH) in your factory.

The information shown on a risk map should include:

  • the type of process;
  • the location of machinery, equipment, storage areas, exits, firefighting equipment, first-aid kits, infirmary, rest rooms etc;
  • potential hazards (chemical, physical etc).

The process is quite simple – all you have to do is to draw a floor plan of the workplace or the component sections/floors, marking as accurately as possible, the main features of the workplace – doors, windows, stairs, gangways etc. Once you have your floor plan, mark all potential risks / hazards – construct a picture of the state of health and safety in your factory. You can also put down the normal location of key personnel such as first-aiders, members of any firefighting team, or health and safety representatives if you have a joint OSH committee.

Value of Checklists

You are not expected to become a health and safety expert overnight – you may be the general manager or a workers’ representative and have limited time to think about health and safety in your factory. The usual approach is for someone to do a quick, occasional “walk through” inspection and then report back. This is not the best way to approach the question of health and safety in your factory. By undertaking this ad-hoc, haphazard approach, you may miss things that could be vital. You need to look carefully, in a planned, logical way, at each part of the production process and at each worker’s job. This may be time consuming at the beginning but will pay dividends in the end. The task becomes a great deal easier if you have the full co-operation of the workforce and there is a viable joint worker/management health and safety committee at the factory. The task is also made easier by the use of checklists that help you not to miss anything.

Ideally, a checklist should be completed jointly by managers and workers. The findings should also be discussed with both sides and solutions found to any OSH problems.