I have nothing against tick boxes

Health and safety | September 2016

digital tick box

How to get workplace inspections right

Darren Smith, Joint Managing Director of System Concepts, argues against ‘tick box’ approaches to workplace inspections

Workplace inspections are a good thing. Right?

They’re an important part of an occupational health and safety programme, helping prevent workplace injuries and ill-health. But, like anything you do in business, workplace inspections are only of value if you do them well: do them badly, and you’re potentially wasting your time and money.

The costs of poorly run inspections

Poorly run inspections can leave your organisation exposed to unacceptable levels of risk that could result in accidents or ill health, which in turn reduce productivity. And of course, with accidents comes the associated risk of prosecution, fines, insurance claims and increasing premiums.

female workplace inspector

Add value instead of ticking boxes

So how do you ensure that your workplace inspections add value, instead of becoming routine ‘tick box’ exercises?

I have nothing against ticking boxes per se: ticking stuff off a list is a pretty useful way of recording that you’ve done something, makes you feel good, and motivates you to do more.

The downside comes when the boxes you’re ticking are no longer relevant to your organisation. In other words, the hazards you’re checking may not be your hazards, if for example you’ve bought ‘off-the-shelf checklists’.

In short, to get workplace inspections right, you need to:


  1. Design your inspections from the ground up, tailoring them to the risks found in your workplace.
  2. Have an effective system for recording your inspections, and for managing the outputs.
  3. Regularly review the content of your inspections, to ensure they remain relevant to your organisation.

And, if you’re not sure how to do this, give us a call.