As a safety professional, your job revolves around your peers. You have to train them, provide them with the right tools, and ensure that they’re performing their jobs in the safest manner possible.
This is why a safety walk-around is actually an essential part of your toolkit.
What is a safety walk-around, what does it entail, and how can it benefit your team’s safety efforts? Keep reading to learn more.
Defining Safety Walk-around
A safety walk-around is when a line manager or supervisor observes work taking place, inspects the workplace, and discusses safety performance with staff based on their observations.
It is not to be confused with a safety inspection, which is a formalized process of documenting safety hazards and unsafe work practices. Nor should a walk-around be confused with a safety audit, which assesses your workplace’s health and safety procedures to determine compliance and assess weaknesses in your safety program.
A walk-around is focused on the real experience of working every day. It’s designed to catch everyday unsafe practices that can compound over time to create serious risks for a whole group of employees.
It’s also intended to help employees understand safety in real terms. By conducting a walk-around, a safety professional can point out unsafe practices when they occur in the real work environment, providing employees with safe alternatives and a means to understand why their practices are unsafe.
In this respect, safety walk-arounds are critical to employers because they make safety accessible to the workforce.
However, safety walk-arounds do have a few unique requirements in order to be effective.
For example, the manager performing the walk-around must be familiar with the workplace, its unique hazards, and its normal state of operation. The point of a walk-around is to see the workplace as it appears in an everyday work setting. As such, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with this particular workplace.
You’ll also need to check the most hazardous areas in the workplace to identify what’s going wrong on a day-to-day basis.
The best way to address both concerns is by reviewing old safety inspections and by talking to safety representatives. Inspections can help reveal consistent problem areas and representatives can point out areas of concern that an inspection might overlook.
The process of an on-site safety walk-around is all about striking a balance between credibility, attention to detail, and preparation.
For example, a manager conducting a safety walk-around should always wear the appropriate personal protective equipment for the work environment. Nothing kills credibility faster than a manager who doesn’t walk-the-walk.
From there, you can start looking for hazards. Check for obvious hazards first, such as tripping hazards, blocked exits, frayed wires, poor housekeeping, and poorly maintained equipment. Talk to workers and check their respective workstations.
Do not expose yourself to hazards during an inspection. Instead, keep your eyes peeled and call out any hazards when you see them.
Preparing for Your Safety Walk-around
The process of preparing for a safety walk-around is a bit like preparing for a mock inspection or audit. You’re getting ready to check your workplace for hazards. As such, you have to know what you’re looking for.
Make sure to check out our blog for more great tips to prepare for walk-arounds, audits, and inspections, like this post on the importance of audit checklists. And don’t forget to bring our work observations software to your walk-around so that you can record and learn from safety hazards.