Inspecting the Workplace

Inspections are one of the first steps in the risk assessment process, where you look for hazards or anything with the potential to harm someone.

The work environment

You should regularly check out your work environment and look at:

  • the tasks your workers do
  • the machinery or chemicals they use
  • electricity, lighting, ventilation and security
  • non-physical hazards such as bullying and workplace stresses

We have checklists to help you do this. You can find those in the resources section below. And make sure you talk with your workers who use the equipment, perform the tasks or are in the work environment every day and consult with them. 

Education

There are many resources available to help you educate yourself and train your staff. For example:

  • Read operating manuals, safety alerts, safety data sheets, and information from your industry association or supplier/manufacturer
  • Read the relevant codes of practice
  • Review any reported hazards, incidents, near misses or injuries.

You can also review sick leave, staff turnover and workers compensation records for further insights. And review past incidents or near misses: these can highlight problem areas, and help you avert future incidents.

Risk assessment

You must do a risk assessment for certain high risk activities (for example, entry into confined spaces and some tasks performed on construction sites).

You should do a risk assessment when there are any changes in your workplace, such as:

  • starting or purchasing a business
  • changing work practices, procedures or the work environment
  • purchasing equipment (new or used)
  • using new dangerous substances
  • planning to improve productivity or reduce costs. 

Identified hazards

After identifying the hazards you need to assess the risk, control the risk and review the controls.

Assess the risk

Risk – a likelihood that a harmful consequence (death, injury or illness) might occur when exposed to a hazard.

For each hazard identified, ask the following questions.

  • What would the consequences be if something goes wrong? Could it result in death, serious injury, hospitalisation or on-site first aid?
  • Does the timing and/or duration of the task impact on the likelihood of harm or injury? For example if the task is only performed occasionally, is it more or less likely to be a risk?
  • How close and how often are people likely to be to near the hazard and therefore exposed to it?
  • Has the hazard resulted in accidents or injury before, and if so, how often?

Control the risk

The first aim is to remove all health and safety risks where possible and if not, control them. You will find resources below to help you with this.

Review the controls

Monitor the controls to make sure they're doing the job effectively.

Check that the controls are

  • managing the risks
  • not introducing new problems
  • making the job and workplace safer

Continue to

  • consult with workers and get feedback on any changes
  • check controls when new safety updates occur
  • review reported hazards, incidents, near misses, injuries
  • check sick leave, staff turnover and workers compensation records