Inspections are an integral part of a good safety program. This is your time to step back a little from your day to day involvement and look for problems and opportunities for improvement as well as things that are well done. Don’t hesitate to praise good work, safe practice, improvements, and good ideas.

People need to feel that the inspections are being done to make the working and learning environment safer and healthier for all. They are not to blame or to get someone. At the same time, it may be necessary to note some unsafe practices.

You need to be sure that the emergency equipment is in place, unobstructed, properly designated with signs, and properly functioning. Check electrical receptacles for correct wiring with a ground monitor. Check the hoods for proper air flow. Check the stockroom for security and overcrowding. See that benches and aisles are kept clear and free of materials that should have been put away. And so on….

As you conduct your inspection, make a written list of those opportunities that you identify for improving lab safety. When you’re done, prioritize the list to identify the more serious issues. Give copies of the list to department members, the maintenance department, and the management and administrators. Now you need to work diligently at trying to make those improvements that are within your ability and resources. Seek assistance for the rest.

Source: Kaufman, James A., Laboratory Safety Guidelines - Expanded Edition, The Laboratory Safety Institute, www.labsafetyinstitute.org.