Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Preparing for an Inspection

July 11th, 2008
Inspections and Audits
First we need to know the difference between an Inspection and an Audit, which is:
An Inspection takes place at a lower level (normally employee or first line supervisor), it is done more frequently (daily, weekly monthly) and is focusing on the detail of all aspects within the working environment, for example: the fire fighter or external fire contractor will inspect all 160 fire extinguishers in the working environment every month.

An Audit is done at a higher management level or externally by a professional/specialist (lawyer or ISO/OHSAS lead auditor), it is done less frequently (once every 3 months or 6 months or annually) and it consist of a process of random sampling (looking at a representative sample), for example: part of the OHSAS18001 audit might consist of looking at emergency preparedness and response and therefore you would audit randomly fire extinguishers 7, 88, 122 & 149 to determine if the implementation of this section was done effectively.
So how do you prepare for an inspection?
Here are the steps in the process:
Determine which area or aspect needs to be inspected.
Identify the competent person who will take ownership of this task.
Identify the inspection form to be used and ensure that the criteria on the form is applicable to the inspection to be carried out and that it is understood by the person that is going to perform the inspection.
Make a decision whether the inspection will be done announced or unannounced.
In both cases inform the respective manager of the area/division of your intent.
Select a day and time for the inspection.
Make sure that the selected day and time is not during lunch, tea-break of shut-down but during a normal busy shift.
On the day of the inspection:
Confirm with the area manager that everything is going according to plan.
Identify possible resources that are needed (eg. PPE requirements, transportation, etc.)
Ensure you have your clipboard, inspection form, writeable pen and other requirements available.
Switch off your cell phone and ask your fellow colleagues and manager not to disturb you during the process unless it is an emergency.
Before you start walking through, sit in your office and mentally prepare your approach and the questions that you would like to ask.
When you are relaxed and ready, start working systematically through your inspection route – do not rush – take your time and do a quality inspection.
Write clearly on your form and give yourself memory joggers on the sheet to assist you later in recalling some of the facts.
Look at positive and negative factors.
Do not do fault-finding.
Remember: an inspection consist of documentation review, interviews and observation – make sure you have a balance in terms of these three information gathering techniques.
When you have completed your inspection, thank all the people that were involved.
Leave the area in a positive manner.
Go back to you office and finalize the content of the inspection report.
Report problem or high risk situations immediately to the respective supervisor or manager to prevent possible incidents.
Hand in your report to your next level of supervision.
Ensure that you form part of a committee who will sit on a regular basis to discuss these reports and make recommendations for continual improvement.
Give regular feedback to the employees on all issues (positive and negative).
Important tip: Your attitude and approach during the inspection will determine whether it will be a success or failure.
A typical approach towards interviewing an employee would be:
Good morning, my name is…
I am busy doing an inspection to assist the SHEQ management system with continual improvement opportunities.
You are a valuable part of this process and we would like to find out if we can make your job/task safer.
Do you mind if I ask you a few questions, please?
What are the hazards that you know of in your job?
Have you gone through induction training?
When was the last emergency evacuation drill performed?
Who is your management representative for SHEQ?
Has an incident occurred in your area over the past month?…etc…
I thank you for your honesty and for sharing this information with me.

If we want to be successful we must remember that: we must become the change we want to see – Mahatma Gandhi.
Contact Christel Fouche
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