Safety Observation

Safety observation at work is a planned activity, aimed at reviewing the behaviour and performance of people to carry out a specific task and their comparison with specific requirements of the Occupational Risk Prevention Management System to establish whether compliance with them has been obtained.

However, it must be taken into account that unsafe conditions, unsafe acts and behaviours control can only be maintained through frequent safety observation reports. For example, newcomers may be negatively influenced or have bad habits picked up from previous jobs.

Likewise, old workers, if they are not observed periodically, can deviate from the established safe work methods and tend to forget the rules or procedures, developing inadequate work methods. It is easier to correct a worker’s operational defects at the beginning than to convince him later that his practice is behaviour-based safety observation.

The experienced person often seeks new alternatives to perform a job, which can be dangerous. In addition, this worker is generally followed by others, hence the need to eliminate incorrect practices and habits in him.

Behaviour-based safety observation

More than 23% of fatal accidents during 2020 were caused by losing control of machines, tools or handling equipment as indicated by the Report on Mortality Analysis due to work accidents, published by the European Statistics on Accidents at Work (ESAW). It is convenient to highlight those ratios that can be improved by optimizing the management system and the preventive behaviour of our workers.


Given these results, and avoiding the accident scene, we see how important it is to use good safety observation for accident prevention. 

Preventive safety observations

Safety observation is carried out to identify deficiencies and control existing measures. They apply above all to “ machinery, equipment, tools, PPEs and working conditions, generally.

Safety observation is intended to review the actions of workers in the performance of their duties and in carrying out work safely. Without forgetting the need to complement it with ongoing training and the existence of work procedures. Throughout this article, the objectives are to be taken into account for a safety observation program.

Safety observation program

The concept of an unsafe act and conditions must be known, and its workers must be receptive to an immediate correction of the tasks without considering it an attack or a criticism.

  • Recognize and reinforce safe behaviours, motivating all workers in the facility to continue applying them.
  • Search and identify unsafe acts and conditions that may be taking place in a task or job, preventing incidents with or without injury.
  • Check the suitability of the rules/procedures and verify their compliance or the need to modify them.


  1. Detect unsafe acts and conditions and correct them: immediate correction, at the moment the unsafe act and condition are detected.
  2. Detect organizational weaknesses: training, procedures, availability of safety officer etc.: Many times, an unsafe act derives from an inapplicable procedure or a lack of training, lack of safety advisor and shortcomings of work procedure.
  3. Reinforce safe habits and behaviours: through positive reinforcement, safety awards and praise for safe acts
  4. Increase the prevention and positive Safety Culture: demonstrating that all supervisors and managers are involved in the prevention, taking part in the planning and carrying out of the observations.

To develop a planned observation, the following steps should be followed:

1) Prepare for observation: Decide people, tasks, and procedures.

2) Carry out the observation: Look under the table.

3) Record the observation: Use the report form and establish the substandard actions detected. Make corrections and congratulate when appropriate

4) Verify compliance with recommendations and reinforce safe behaviours: In general, safety observation offers a set of advantages:

  • Allows you to check the effectiveness of training or the need to schedule it for workers.
  • Opportunity to correct substandard actions.
  • Opportunity to praise the application of safe practices.
  • Develop positive safety culture.
  • Improve knowledge of people and their labour practices.
  • Provide ideas to improve work methods.

There are three phases to implementing an effective process: 1) Planning, 2) Realization and 3) Evaluation.

Phase: 1- Planing

In the planning phase, we will define the procedure that manages both the execution and the report of the results of the Safety Observations. It is not essential, but it helps to have a checklist or a format that facilitates observation with the points to review and is easy to understand and complete. Several of the points that are usually reviewed are:

  • Personal Protection Equipment PPE: their presence and correct use of them.
  • Tools: use of them, if they are suitable for the job if they are well maintained.
  • Work procedures: if they exist, if they are adequate if they are known.

Phase: 2- Realization

Prepare the observation: the observer, based on the planning to be observed, the PPEs and/or tools that must be used, as well as whether there is already a procedure or instruction for said task. The observer will approach the person to be observed and introduce himself. He will explain the process and how the observation will unfold.


In the case of observations by tasks, the points indicated in the checklist, the wording of the procedure and whether it is adequate or requires modification will be checked. If an unsafe act occurs, or unsafe conditions persist it will stop immediately and apply 3 ‘A’:

  1. ALERT: Invite the observed person to stop what they are doing. Trying to get him to say the unsafe act he is committing.
  2. ACTION: Ask the appropriate questions so that the person being observed can deduce the consequences that carrying out an unsafe act could bring him and what he is going to do from this moment on to avoid repeating it.
  3. AGREEMENT: Show interest in him and his safety. Reach an agreement (warning letter) to comply with regulations or to correct the unsafe act. The data resulting from the observation will be recorded for later analysis.

Phase: 3- Assessment

After some time we must evaluate its effectiveness.

  1. Several close observations.
  2. Number of open observation
  3. Number of unsafe acts detected
  4. Several unsafe conditions were detected.
  5. Accident ratios
  6. Effectiveness of training, reward and warning letter.

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 Safety observation form and safety observation example

Use safety observation forms to easily observe critical and safe behaviour such as the correct selection of tools for the job, proper lifting techniques and more. The form has fields for observations or improvements, which must be completed with what has been seen. Below is the safety observation example of how you can use it.

  • Look at the work
  • Observe behaviour
  • Provide positive feedback by praising safe behaviours first.
  • Draw the corrective action that may be needed.
  • Record the Observation whether it is negative or positive
  • Report to the higher management


Date: 23/4/2023Area: Pipe rack – 181
Company name: BackpackProject: 201215
Sr.No.ObservationUnsafe acts/conditions/









Time Scale

1Observed pipe fitter engaging in grinding on the pipe without wearing a face shield.Unsafe act


(Employee no. 11023)

Instructed to wear face shield and recommends refresher training.Close
2Scaffold materials are stored beside the safe access area.Unsafe conditionBirbal

(Employee no. 11024)


Give training regarding housekeeping.

3Two cables used for the power supply observed date expired inspection sticker.Unsafe conditionAnil

(Employee no. 11025)

Given instruction to provide a valid inspection sticker prior to use.Open
4Accumulated water shall be cleaned for drip traysUnsafe conditionAnil

(Employee no. 11025)

Instructed supervisor to maintain cleaning all the time.Close
5In Obtained hot work permit gas test timing is not mentioned.Unsafe conditionMohan

(Employee no. 11026)

Stopped work and conducted toolbox meetings for the importance of work permits.Time Scale:

1 hour

Safety Observer Name:Sign:
Supervisor Name:Sign:

Download the daily safety record log

Safety observation record log

Safety observation checklist

Preventive safety observations will help to reduce deficiencies in the execution of tasks, help to increase the preventive culture within the company, increasing awareness about safety and health at work, which will help reduce accidents.


Hearing protection (earplugs, ear muffs)
Coveralls require fire-resistant clothing
Foot protection required steel-toed safety shoes
Head protection – Helmet required by ANSI-Z-89
Hand protection (suitable gloves)
Eye and face protection required by ANSI Z-87
Safety vest
Caught between, falling objects
Proper manual lifting techniques are performed
Awkward position: overreaching
Pinch Point
Ascending / Descending (three-point contact )
All trash bags were emptied and replaced.
All equipment and materials were returned to the storage area after work was finished.
Are walkways free of debris?
Are obstructions such as nails, splinters or loose boards removed from walkways and work surfaces?
Are materials stored in their designated place and stacked to prevent falling or collapsing?
Hot work
Fire extinguisher
Fire watch (trained)
Fire hose (if required)
LOTO is performed.
Work area free from combustible materials.
The catch pit sewer is covered.
Warning sign
A barricade and fire blanket are provided.
Permit, JSA or risk assessment available.
A gas test is performed.
Confined space
Permit, JSA or risk assessment available?
Is SCBA, retractive lifeline, tripod, ladder rope, safety harness, and fire extinguisher available?
Equipment is properly lockout/tagout, decontaminated, depressurized and purged?
Approved rescue plan, ventilation plan, electrical plan, and evacuation plan available?
Calibrated Oxygen monitoring, H2S, CO, and LEL devices are available?
Proper communication device, log sheet, and standby man available?
Are signage and barricade available?
Lifting operation
Proper illumination
Barricade and signage
Authorized rigger and operator
Outrigger fully open?
Crane is inspected?
Permit, JSA or risk assessment, load chart and lifting plan available?
Were slings and shackles inspected?
Are weather conditions such as wind speed acceptable?
Daily crane checklist is available?
Scaffolding platform
Guard rail system: top rail, mid rail, toe board
Inspection tag is valid?
Drop bar
The ladder is inspected and colour coded?
Is any opening detected in the platform?
Work Permit
The date and duration are OK
Number of workers
Signed by the permit receiver and issuer?
Is a gas test performed
Was a joint site inspection conducted?
The radiation area was barricaded and evacuated
Caution signs and warning lights posted
Radiation area is being monitored?
Radiography vehicle parked away from the premises?
Does each person have a valid TLD?
Is authorized RSO available?
Permit, JSA or risk assessment available?
Proper access and egress
Proper illumination
Signage, hard barricade and warning light available?
Drawing is highlighted and signed by a civil engineer?
Is the excavation plan prepared and clear mention of the depth of excavation,
Is a soil test performed and decide the adequate cave-in protection such as shoring, benching and sloping?
Is excavation a confined space?
Is a gas test performed?
Access and Egress
Are exit routes sufficiently lit?
Are walkways free from creating a slip hazard?
Are access is clear of any obstruction?
Is potable water available at the site to workers for drinking?
Are the toilets clean, in good repair and adequate numbers in the workplace?
Are there hand-washing facilities adjacent to each sanitary facility?
Are all fire extinguishers inspected?
Tools and Equipment
Have drip trays been provided to catch potential spills from the generator or compressor?
Are tools regularly inspected, cleaned and repaired?
Are damaged or worn tools removed from service?
Electrical equipment is grounded and equipped with GFCI or ELCB
Do the workers no the right tools for the right job?
Tools are inspected and colour coded.




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