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The Who, What, When, and How of Inspections

Inspections. The very word can evoke an endless array of questions. What do we need to inspect? When do they need to be done? How do we do them? Who does them? Can anyone help me with this? Well, hopefully I’ll be able to shed some light on these questions. Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Anand Kanna, Manager, Motion Picture Programs and Services,
Actsafe Safety Associaton

The “what” and “when” questions can be answered by looking at the WorkSafeBC Regulations that deal with inspections. Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR) 3.5 states “Every employer must ensure that regular inspections are made of all workplaces, including buildings, structures, grounds, excavations, tools, equipment, machinery and work methods and practices, at intervals that will prevent the development of unsafe working conditions.” Additionally, OHSR 3.7 states that “A special inspection must be made when required by malfunction or accident.”

So, from the regulation we can determine that the “what” question covers workplaces, tools, equipment, machinery, work methods, practices, and the “when” question outlines whenever there is an incident or malfunction of a piece of equipment or work practice, but more commonly, at an interval that will prevent the development of an unsafe working condition. The term “interval” is a bit vague. Generally, inspections are conducted on a monthly or annual basis, but is that an appropriate interval? What is an appropriate interval? Well, that really depends on what is being inspected. A piece of mobile equipment or a table saw will need to be inspected more frequently than a soundstage perhaps.

How do we do an inspection? The easiest way to do an inspection is by using a checklist. You can find a great general inspection checklist on WorkSafeBC’s website. It’s quite broad and covers a wide range of functional areas on a worksite. It’s available in a word template, so you can customize this checklist to suit the individual needs of your production, workplace, or department. However, as this checklist is designed for all industries operating in B.C., it’s not too specific for motion picture or performing arts workplaces. If that’s what you’re looking for, Actsafe has a number of inspection checklists available on our website that you can use. The best way of doing an inspection is by learning how to do one properly. We’re currently in the process of developing a few courses that can train you on the finer points of performing an inspection. Keep an eye out on our website for these courses, launching late this year.

We’ve covered the “what, when, and how” questions. What about who does them? Well, this question can certainly open a can of worms. Shouldn’t the employer do them? Am I supposed to do them? The answer to both of those questions is yes. As stated in OHSR 3.5, every employer must ensure that regular inspections are done. But every employer can’t be alone in this responsibility, and that’s where the worker comes into play. Workers have a responsibility to take reasonable care to protect their own health as well as that of the people they work with. It can be argued that part of this responsibility is to inspect workspaces and equipment regularly. But in order to do this, the employer needs to provide the right tools to do the job. In this case, training on how to do inspections, checklists on what to look for, or even the personnel to do a proper inspection. And this is where we answer the “Can anyone help me with this” question.

Your joint health and safety committee (JHSC) is a fantastic source of resources. Employers and workers can consult with the JHSC on materials that will help you perform a comprehensive inspection of whatever it is you’re inspecting. Looking for a checklist to help guide you on what to look for during an inspection? Your JHSC can help with that. Need some training on how to do a proper inspection of a worksite or piece of machinery? Your JHSC can help arrange that. Need someone to actually do the inspection? Your JHSC can also do that (see OSHR 3.8 for more information).

The world of inspections can be daunting. Not knowing what to inspect and how to inspect can lead to major stumbling blocks in meeting compliance. But there is help out there. The members of your committee have been trained in their committee’s responsibility and are aware of the resources available to help get those inspections done. They can look at each individual department and provide the training and checklists you need to do your inspections
comprehensively. When you need them, you can always turn to your joint health and safety committee for guidance.

This article was written for our quarterly newsletter, Safety Scene. You can find a link to the full edition below.

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