Old man inspecting a machine

Equipment and Facility Inspections

By Spencer Sandberg, Supervisor – Health & Safety, U.S. Compliance

Completing internal safety inspections is a regular occurrence for companies with good safety programs. Within these programs, there are many different types of internal equipment and facility safety inspections that are completed for several different reasons. One reason is to follow OSHA regulations and other applicable related safety standards. But above all, the purpose of conducting these safety inspections should be to prevent injuries. Understanding that goal means that the inspections themselves need to be conducted at such a frequency that allows for sufficient and timely hazard identification as well as the correction of those hazards. In most cases, OSHA (or other related safety standards) specifies or provides guidance regarding the frequency at which inspections should be completed.

Inspections help prevent incidents and injuries, and can also reduce unnecessary risks with facility emergencies that may occur. You must be proactive instead of reactive if you want to protect your employees from workplace hazards effectively.

There are multiple types of inspections that most employers should be completing, but what actually needs to be inspected? Some applicable and frequently referenced inspections range from Emergency Equipment Inspections to Mechanical Integrity Safety Inspections and from Machine Guarding and Safety Device Inspections to Fundamental OSHA Topics that may be applicable to your facility. In this article, we will review the different types of equipment and specific inspections that employers must complete.

Emergency Equipment Inspections

Emergency Equipment Inspections consist of reviewing the following items within the listed time frame:

  • Employee Alarms Systems – 29 CFR 1910.165 (every other month depending on the system used, Annually)
  • First-Aid Kits – 29 CFR 1910.151, ANSI Z308.1-2021 (encouraged monthly)
  • Emergency Lighting – NFPA 101 (monthly, annual)
  • Exit Signs – 29 CFR 1910.37, NFPA 101(00), Sec. 7.9.3 (monthly)
  • Fire Extinguishers – 29 CFR 1910.157 (monthly, also annual inspection)
  • Emergency Eyewash Stations – 29 CFR 1910.151, ANSI Z358.1 (weekly for plumbed units)
  • Sprinkler Systems – 29 CFR 1910.151, ANSI Z358.1 (weekly for plumbed units)
  • Emergency Exit Routes – 29 CFR 1910.37 (daily visual)
  • Fire Doors – NFPA 80 (annual)

Mechanical Integrity Equipment Inspections

Mechanical Integrity Equipment Inspections refer to the machine-operated equipment used within a facility. Ranging anywhere from scissor lifts to cranes/hoists and ladders. Below is a more detailed description and time frame for completion:

  • Mobile Elevating Work Platforms (MEWPS) (including scissor lifts) – 29 CFR 1910.23, 1910.28, 1910.29, 1910.333, ANSI/SAIA A92.3-2006 (R2014) (every 3 months or every 150 hours of use – whichever comes first)
  • Electrical Cords – 29 CFR 1910.334 (visual prior to use), 29 CFR 1910.304(B)(3)(Ii)(C)(4)(iii) (requires grounding inspection program for non-GFCI equipment)
  • Ladders – 29 CFR 1910.23 (before each initial use during each work shift)
  • Abrasive Grinding Wheels – 29 CFR 1910.215 (initial “ring test”)
  • Overhead Hoist-Cranes – 29 CFR 1910.179 (initial load test, pre-use inspection, monthly documented [frequent], annual documented [periodic])
  • Lifting Devices (Slings) – 29 CFR 1910.184 (prior to use, annual)
  • Mechanical Power Presses – 29 CFR 1910.217 (visual prior to use), 29 CFR 1910.304(b)(3)(ii)(C)(4)(iii) (requires grounding inspection program for non-GFCI equipment)
  • Power-Transmission Equipment – 29 CFR 1910.219 (at intervals not exceeding 60 days and be always kept in good working condition)
  • Storage Racking Systems – RMI, ANSI MH16.1: 2012 (quarterly)
  • Powered Industrial Lift Trucks (or forklifts) – 29 CFR 1910.178 (before being placed into service, Before every shift for forklifts that are used around the clock)

Guarding and Safety Device Inspections

Many facilities have machinery that is equipped with machine guards or safety devices. These may have been applied by the manufacturer, a third-party company, or installed by an employee at your facility. According to OSHA, it is up to employers to inspect both guarding and safety devices. OSHA standard 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(1) states that one or more methods of machine guarding must be used to protect operators and other employees from hazards, including those created by point of operation, in-running nip points, rotating parts, flying chips, and sparks. Although OSHA does not specify guard inspections (or their frequency, for that matter), like anything else, without having an inspection program, how do you ensure that they are in place, in good condition, and functioning properly? At a minimum, U.S. Compliance would recommend inspections be completed at times of machine installation or alteration, as well daily pre-use visual inspections.

Other Inspections

Other inspections that companies may need to complete will rely on hazards and exposures identified in the workplace. Below is a list of other general requirements companies may need to add to their inspection checklist:

  • Lockout/Tagout Procedure Periodic Inspections – 29 CFR 1910.147 (annual)
  • Fall Arrest Equipment – 29 CFR 1910.140 (prior to use before each work shift)
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) – 29 CFR 1910.132 (must be maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition)
  • Respirators (incl. emergency-use) – 29 CFR 1910.134 (must be inspected prior to use, emergency-use respirators no less than monthly)
  • General Housekeeping – 29 CFR 1910.176 (workplaces must remain clear within aisles, loading docks, and through doorways, as well as keeping clear from the accumulation of trip, fire, explosion, or pest harborage hazards)
  • Hand And Portable Tools – 29 CFR 1910.242 (hand and portable powered tools used by employees must be in safe condition)

With most of the company inspections outlined above, it is essential to remember what applies to your facility, the frequency at which you must complete the inspections, and what inspections require a documented form or visual form. It is recommended that you create a list at your facility of what is applicable and audit that process to ensure you are completing them within the allocated time frame. Review your current inspection process and ensure that you are completing these to stay within compliance.

Need help organizing or completing safety inspections? Contact your U.S. Compliance representative to assure you are up to date and completing the required inspections.

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