How the Joint Health & Safety Committee Should Prepare for Workplace Inspections

Workplace inspections are one of the primary functions of the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC). Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, s.9(23), the JHSC must designate a worker member to inspect the workplace. If possible, the worker should be a certified member of the JHSC (i.e., they’ve completed their JHSC Part 1 and Part 2 training, s.9(24)). The worker member must inspect the physical condition at least once a month (s.9(26)).

The purpose of the monthly inspection is to identify hazards and monitor current work practices to ensure the safety of all workers. Workplace inspections determine:

  • If a hazard is present
  • Which workers are exposed or likely to be exposed
  • Any workers who have been subject to illness or injury
  • If established health and safety procedures and processes are being followed

In this four-part series, we will be examining the four stages of a workplace inspection:

  1. Preparation
  2. Inspection
  3. Reporting
  4. Follow-up

Part 1: Preparing for an Inspection

Area-Specific Knowledge

Once the area being inspected is determined, JHSC members will require area-specific knowledge. Prior to the inspection, the JHSC inspector(s) should be familiar with:

  • Area workflow
  • What goes on in the area
  • Work processes used
  • Materials used
  • Any established deviations from safe work practices

Without a sound and solid understanding of what to expect in the work area, it would be difficult to recognize potential hazards or departures from safe work.

Common Inspection Tools

There are tools that can help JHSC members conduct workplace inspections in an efficient and productive manner. Common inspection tools include:

  • A Workplace Inspection Checklist
    A checklist provides focus and clarifies inspection items. It also helps to ensure nothing is missed!
  • A Floor Plan
    A floor plan helps identify physical elements of the workplace, including hazardous areas and other areas of special note. If a floor plan doesn’t match what the inspector sees, this needs to be reported.
  • Material Inventory
    Inventory of materials is a complete list of all materials with the potential to cause adverse health effects. It should include material by-products, controls, and all relevant SDSs.
  • Equipment Records
    The JHSC must have access to all equipment records prior to the inspection, including power sources, the location of guarding, maintenance schedules, lockout procedures, and/or pre-shift inspection and any other inspection reports.
  • Flow Charts
    A flow chart for any processes used in the workplace can help JHSC inspectors identify hazards by viewing processes sequentially, rather than as a snapshot of what’s happing immediately.

JHSC workplace inspectors that are well prepared in advance of conducting an inspection will find the task of completing an inspection enjoyable, productive, and useful. Proper preparation will lend itself to better hazard identification, which has the potential to save a life.

Keep your eye on your email for Part 2 of 4, when we discuss conducting workplace inspections. It will include a FREE inspection checklist.

OSG Has Been Certifying JHSC Members For Over 20 Years

If you have questions about the JHSC’s role during or after workplace inspections, or how to identify common hazards in the workplace, OSG can help.  We have been successfully training JHSC members for over 20 years, and we are the largest private provider of JHSC committee certification training in Ontario. When it comes to JHSC – we know our stuff! Call 1.800.815.9980 to speak to one of our health and safety experts today, or view our JHSC Part 1 or Part 2 training online now.

Written by Jennifer Miller | Curriculum Development Coordinator


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