Reasons for Performing Inspections

Inspections are completed for a variety of reasons including:
  • Compliance
  • Preventative Maintenance
  • Insurance Coverage
Inspections are performed because their completion is mandated under certain legislation, codes and bylaws. For example, the Ontario Fire Code ( mandates that equipment such as fire extinguishers must be inspected every 30 days. Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act states that inspections of electrical rooms, first aid kits, eyewash stations etc., must be conducted regularly to prevent the development of unsafe working conditions. Legislation also identifies the types of deficiencies and conditions to look for during these inspections as well as how quickly these deficiencies need to be resolved.

*We used Ontario as an example but each province in Canada has similar regulatory bodies that govern similar legislation. There are also federally regulated policies that need to be complied with. These standards are pretty consistent across North America.

So what if you’re not compliant, what’s the worst that can happen?
  • Unsafe working conditions
  • Worker injury or death
  • Property damage
  • Tarnished reputation

All of these have a costly price tag associated with it. On top of this there’s also:
  • Non-compliance orders
  • Fines 

Non-compliance Orders
In 2014, the Ontario Ministry of Labour issued 131,197 non-compliance orders.[1] Over 230,000 non-compliance orders were issued to companies across Canada in 2014.

Non-compliance orders are costly because they essentially stop work – for example, if you are working on a project and a non-compliance order is received, work associated with the non-compliance must stop. This causes delays in the project which will disrupt the schedule; labour costs are incurred as resources must be allocated to fixing the non-compliance and fixing the issue itself also brings additional costs with labour, materials etc.

When an accident occurs and the outcome of the investigation determines that a company was not compliant with the mandated laws, they can be found liable and fined. Sadly, you hear tons of these stories in the news every day. Lack of machine guarding is a very common accident that companies are found liable for because it usually results in someone losing their limbs which is unfortunate since it's easily preventable.

Preventative maintenance
Preventative maintenance is a proactive work schedule program whereby equipment is regularly inspected for deficiencies as well as wear and tear to prevent equipment failure and injury.[2] Preventative maintenance programs include regular inspection and equipment servicing much like you would do with your vehicle i.e. oil changes, tire rotation, etc. It also involves keeping records of these inspections and servicing, as well as planned replacement of parts and identification of hazards. Preventative maintenance provides several benefits such as:
  • Reduces worker injury
  • Avoidance of work delays due to equipment failure
  • Avoidance of lost time due to equipment failure
  • Improves equipment performance, reliability, efficiency and optimization
  • Reduces costs associated with equipment rental or unplanned replacement of equipment

Insurance Coverage
Let’s say an incident occurs at your workplace, a flood for example, that resulted from a leaking fire hose cabinet and caused thousands of dollars worth of damage. Some of the questions the insurance company is going to ask you are: “Was this deficiency known?” “How often was this fire hose cabinet inspected?” “When was the last time this fire hose cabinet was inspected and by who?” “Where are your inspection records?”

If you are unable to answer these questions or prove that you performed all due diligence possible to avoid this situation, the insurance company may leave you with the bill or at least a portion of it. Therefore inspections are an important way to show your due diligence and ensure that you are covered by insurance in the event of an incident.

[1] Ontario Ministry of Labour (2015). Occupational Health and Safety in Ontario 2014-15 Annual Report. Retrieved from