Inspection of the structures and machinery in manufacturing plants was once done primarily through industry practices that were rooted in health and safety regulations along with prescriptive codes. Unfortunately, this type of inspection did not take into account the risk of failure, environmental conditions, and so forth. A more well-rounded approach to inspection was developed and became known as risk based inspection.

Baseball fans likely know the acronym RBI to stand for “runs batted in.” Professionals dealing in risk management, however, know it to also be short for another term.

Overview: What is risk based inspection?

Risk based inspection can be defined as a process of inspection that centers on assessing the probability of failure due to factors that include damage, design flaws, degradation, and deterioration. Part of the risk based inspection process includes an assessment of consequences.

2 benefits of risk based inspection and 1 drawback

There are some definite benefits to risk based inspection, as well as a drawback:

1. Benefit: Provides groundwork

A defined risk based inspection process establishes the groundwork for risk management through coverage, methodology, and inspection frequency.

2. Benefit: Incident reduction

A major benefit of risk based inspection is its potential to significantly minimize the risk of environmental, safety, and health incidents.

3. Drawback: It may not be enough in high-risk situations

If there are massive consequences when a failure occurs, such as in a nuclear power plant, risk based inspection may not be enough to ensure safety.

Why is risk based inspection important to understand?

Risk based inspection is important to understand for the following reasons:

Type of damage

Understanding risk based inspection is important, as it can alert you to the type of damage that could be present. There are different types of damages and consequences, so knowing exactly what the issue is that you are dealing with can help you come up with the correct solution as well as properly assess the risk.

Damage location

Having a firm grasp on risk based inspection can also tell you just where in your operations the damage is most likely to occur.

Damage rate

Risk based inspection is important because not only can it tell you the type of damage and its location, but also the rate at which it may occur. Knowing the frequency of an issue is a big part of assessing the risk involved.

When failure equals danger

Another reason why risk based inspection is important to understand is that it can tell you just when an issue can actually become dangerous. This is especially important when dealing with hazardous materials.

An industry example of risk based inspection

A manufacturing plant has had a number of temporary shutdowns due to injury occurrences as well as mechanical failures. This year, the CEO of the organization has ordered an update of the company’s machinery and better safety measures to ensure the well-being of its workers. Along with these steps towards improvement, a comprehensive risk based inspection program is to be developed. These inspections are to take place on a monthly basis so that the organization can properly gauge and assess the risk and consequences related to the proper upkeep of its new machinery and the health/safety of its workers.

3 best practices when thinking about risk based inspection

Here are some best practices to consider when it comes to risk based inspection:

1. What following through after a risk based inspection program looks like:

A proper response to a risk based inspection program is the deployment of initiatives at a frequency that provides confidence in the condition of the thing that was inspected. Damage mechanisms should be accounted for, as should the reliability of the inspection techniques.

2. Explore potential documentation related to your industry

If you are putting together a risk based inspection program for your organization, look into examples from other organizations in your industry that can act as a template. This can help give you the proper direction to follow in drafting up an inspection plan, as well as make sure you do not miss anything.

3. Always assess both of the critical factors

Make sure to always assess both critical factors of risk based inspection, probability of failure as well as the consequence of failure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about risk based inspection

What are the types of risk based inspection?

Risk based inspection is typically divided up into three groups. These are the environmental impacts, the impacts on health and safety, and the business-related impacts.

What are the major steps in a risk based inspection?

These would be data collection, damage mechanisms review, risk assessment, risk ranking, inspection planning, mitigation, and reassessment.

How can sufficient risk based inspection practices decrease workplace downtime?

By having a well-run risk based inspection program, you can decrease downtime in the workplace by having fewer health and safety issues with your machines and personnel. When things go wrong with your machines and workers, processes need to stop temporarily, which creates time waste. By sorting out issues before they cause shutdowns, you can prevent downtime.

Risk based inspection in your workplace

Having a thorough knowledge of threats to the integrity of the equipment in your organization is vital to keeping a workplace safe. It is also part of keeping your customers happy. After all, if you have to have a temporary shutdown due to equipment failure, then you cannot fulfill orders. Having and initiating a proper risk based inspection process helps make your business better.
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