Conduct Periodic, Unannounced Laboratory Inspections

By James A. Kaufman

Inspections get people involved in thinking about hazards and unsafe practices in the workplace. These should be done at least four times a year (monthly is better). Perhaps, one of these can be done by people from outside your institution or company. This brings in fresh eyes to see the things you’ve grown accustomed to. Let everyone have a chance on some rotating basis to help conduct the inspection.

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.

Keep a written record of the inspection. Share the results with the department members. Let each person be responsible for making the necessary changes in their area except where outside assistance is needed. Use the inspection report as a checklist to see that the situations are corrected in a reasonable period of time.

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.

Having everyone participate in the inspection process is a great way to get them involved in the safety program and to teach them about hazards and how to recognize them.

Published In

Job Satisfaction Magazine Issue Cover
Job Satisfaction

Published: September 1, 2013

Cover Story

Job Satisfaction: Lab Managers and Researchers Weigh In

Job satisfaction is often an elusive concept: performing— for pay—a task or a series of tasks that truly fulfill a person. Fulfillment, however, carries a different meaning for each individual. Some may find that competitive compensation provides satisfaction on the job, while others find gratification in recognition from their peers.

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