But everyday hazards can easily be overlooked, and these hazards can contribute to an unsafe and unhealthy working environment for yourself and your team.

Pasztor danielle
Farm Safety Specialist and HR Consultant / PeopleManagement Group Inc.

Workplace inspections seem like they don’t provide any true value when we think quickly about walking around our farm and pointing out the obvious. However, a workplace inspection may reveal much more than you would have thought when done properly and set up for success.

Where to begin

It may seem daunting when we think about how many areas there are on our farm to inspect. The Occupational Health and Safety Act says, “… a health and safety representative shall inspect the physical condition of the workplace at least once a month.”

However, it then stipulates, “If it is not practical to inspect the workplace at least once a month, the health and safety representative shall inspect the physical condition of the workplace at least once a year, inspecting at least a part of the workplace in each month.”

Given the size and amount of equipment, chemicals, etc., used on our dairies, it is a best practise to inspect a part of the workplace each month. These can be broken down as follows, for example:

  • Crop and feed storage areas
  • Farm buildings and shop
  • Livestock facilities
  • Chemical storage areas
  • Equipment and machinery

Of course, more can be added or altered. The idea here is to inspect everything on your farm throughout the year. Each area would be inspected by answering a list of applicable questions developed which would identify any hazards that may be present.

For example, “Are all chemical containers properly labeled with their contents?” Then the inspection sheet would allow the health and safety representative to mark whether there is a hazard here, as well as the date it was fixed or the steps which need to be taken to eliminate the hazard.

Lastly, the inspection sheet should have a column to identify what corrective action was taken, if need be, as well as when and by whom it was corrected.

Why is this important?

Not only is it mandatory for legislation compliance under the Occupational Health and Safety Act but, by completing monthly safety inspections of your workplace, we are able to eliminate hazards and prevent accidents which may have occurred from the lack of awareness of safety concerns on the farm.

For example, a monthly safety inspection might result in finding out the fire extinguisher in the barn is no longer charged and should be replaced before the time it is needed and is of no use.

By completing an inspection, we are able to act on these items and ensure our physical workplace is as safe as possible. We are also able to see areas which may need improvement in the future or that are something to keep an eye on, like the state of the bunk silo storage, for example.

What do I do with an inspection sheet once complete?

Once you have completed an inspection sheet, it should be filed away and kept for a minimum of two years.

This will serve the purpose of documenting an inspection had in fact been done, as an employer you are compliant with your duties and demonstrating your due diligence in correcting actionable items which may contribute to an unsafe or unhealthy working environment.

Bottom line

Workplace inspections are not going to be something you look forward to. It will be something you have to make a conscious effort to complete. During the inspection, you may feel the need to rush through it or go off of memory of the last time you were in the chemical shed.

But by taking the inspection seriously, thoroughly inspecting the workplace and taking corrective action where necessary, we can make sure we are preventing injury and illness where we can and keep all of our team members safe.  end mark

Danielle Pasztor