The Checker Blog

How Technology Can Improve Inspecting and Auditing

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Mon, Jun 11, 2018 @ 09:29 AM

technology can improve inspecting and auditing

Today's working environment is being changed by the many technological advancements that have been taking place over the past several years. In fact, we are now going through the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution, pushed in large part by what is known as the Internet of Things (IoT). These technological innovations are merging the mechanical and digital into a single device that can be controlled remotely or even left alone to manage itself.

In its annual EHS Technology Trends Survey, Cority has looked at what are the 2018 EHS technology priorities. EHS professionals from over 25 countries and 12 industry verticals were asked what their priorities were going forward and their answers are indicative of the trends happening around the world.

“With the GDPR compliance deadline fast-approaching and ISO 45001 soon to be published, it’s no surprise that standardizing procedures is the number one priority for EHS leaders in 2018,” said Pam Bobbitt, Director of Product Marketing and Channels at Cority.

“All of the emerging tech trends explored in this survey are integral to operational excellence and maintaining a competitive advantage, but EHS leaders looking to kick-start 2018 program performance will focus on streamlining and standardization procedures within their EHS management systems.”

 

Inspection and Auditing Technologies

After standardizing procedures, on the number two spot came sharing data across EHS departments enterprise-wide. It then was followed by predictive analytics and EHS mobile functionality.

When it comes to inspection and auditing, in particular, mobility is a key feature that stands out. Mobile phones and tablets are becoming widespread in this industry as they offer the required versatility and efficiency needed to do the job correctly. Instead of relying on paper and clipboards, more and more inspectors are turning to tablets.

Various voice-to-text technologies are also working their way into the audit sector. These can significantly increase the productivity and efficiency of the inspector when conducting their investigation. Instead of having to write everything down, they can now dictate to their tablet what needs inclusion in the report.

Cloud-based software is another piece of technology that inspectors are using when conducting their business. The Checker Software will provide an inspector conducting an audit with plenty of benefits that no portion of paper could match. This software is highly more accurate than writing things down. 

It can generate immediate benefits such as faster, reliable communication of results; easy monitoring; instant creation of corrective action steps; as well as electronic document archiving for compliance and analysis purposes. Since it's cloud-based, the Checker Software is also easy to set up, with no substantial investments required. Nevertheless, it is a solution that will improve your efficiency and safety and is something that more and more managers are turning towards.

Takeaway

In short, technology is quickly changing the way businesses conduct their inspections and audits. As more EHS professionals are turning to these technologies in their day-to-day business, it is safe to say that the quality of audits and the results they will generate will be of a higher quality than ever before. There will be less room for error, more visible improvements, and fewer accidents overall.

Topics: why inspect?, safety management, inspection best practices, inspections and profitability, audit software

The Importance of Inspections for Compliance

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Mon, Jun 04, 2018 @ 09:13 AM

The importance of inspections for compliance

It is always disheartening to hear news about various workplace disasters. It is also during this time that questions begin to arise – question such as what happened, who is to blame, and could this have been avoided? It is no surprise that regulatory safety inspections will improve the safety of employees. Inspections should be an essential for any organization, regardless of their field of business.  

These inspections have several specific functions that include:

  • Identifying already existing or potentially hazardous conditions
  • Determining the underlying causes of those hazards
  • Monitoring hazard controls
  • Recommending corrective action that could address each issue at hand
  • Listening to concerns from workers and supervisors
  • Offering a further understanding of jobs and tasks from safety standards. 

The truth is, some managers are concerned about the organizational costs that revolve around compliance, opting instead to risk going without a safety inspection in the hopes that nothing wrong will happen. 

Nevertheless, statistics show that inspections lower the risk of an accident or an injury by 23%, even after three years. Random checks were shown to work equally as well, reducing the risk of injuries by 9% and, even more striking, the reduction of costs of reported injuries by up to 26%. 

The following factors usually dictate the frequency of these inspections:

  • National or regional legislation.
  • New processes and machinery that haven't been inspected
  • Past accidents or other incidents
  • The number and size of work operations
  • The type of equipment and work process

The Importance of Regulatory Inspections

There are several reasons why such regular inspections are right for an organization. For starters, failing to comply with safety standards can attract a hefty fine. If something terrible happens, that fine could be even higher. 

Secondly, there is a matter of reputation. No company is looking forward to appearing on the news when something wrong happens. It will attract unwanted publicity that will flag an organization for some time. 

The health and safety of your employees are also at play here. Even a minor accident such as a trip or a fall can lead to a severe accident which can put that employee in the hospital. When such an accident does occur within an organization, a company-wide drop in morale usually follows. 

Last but not least is a case of lost revenue. This will take on different forms, depending on the exact circumstances. Lost revenue after an accident or injury comes from reduced productivity as a result of lowered employee morale.

Negative media attention can also cause a reduction in sales or terms of partnership opportunities. Then, there is a matter of legal fees, fines, increased administrative costs related to the injury, damaged property, machinery, or tools, as well as the cost associated with a new hire - if applicable.  

Takeaway

Investing in regulatory inspections can and will increase revenue. If all goes well and these audits do their job, the day-to-day operations will run smoothly and without a hitch. But when accidents happen, there will be a significant disruption that will extend well beyond the incident itself. The company will spend considerable time of weeks or months to recover. A cloud-based piece of software, such as The Checker Software , will provide you with many valuable management tools for higher accuracy, effectiveness, and safety.

Topics: why inspect?, safety management, legal compliance, inspection best practices, inspections and profitability

5 Ways to Make Your Workplace Inspection Effective

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Mon, May 28, 2018 @ 09:14 AM

5 way to make your workplace

Regular workplace inspections are essential in preventing all sorts of incidents, injuries, illnesses, property damages, or loss of revenue. There are some companies out there that for mainly financial reasons skip these inspections in the hopes of cutting on expenses. Unfortunately, however, this can only be considered a short-term solution at best or an accident waiting to happen, at worst.  

Only with a critical examination of the workplace enables business owners to save on costs, injury, and future liabilities. These inspections, if done professionally and regularly, will identify potential hazards, issue a corrective action, gain a deeper understanding of jobs and tasks performed, and listen to employee concerns. Here are five ways that will improve the effectiveness of your workplace inspection. 

1. Identifying Potentially Hazardous Situations

Every inspection needs to take a close look at all elements that comprise the workplace. It includes the who, what, where, when, and how. You should, nevertheless, pay extra close attention to such things as noise, lighting, temperature, vibration, and ventilation - elements that could develop into unsafe or unhealthy conditions down the line. Inspections also need to go out of the areas where work is regularly conducted, and extend to such places like the parking lot, locker rooms, rest area, etc. 

There are many types of workplace hazards that you need to look out for and classified as biological, chemical, ergonomic, physical, psychological, and safety hazards. Among them, there are things like inadequate machine guards or unsafe workplace conditions, viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites, repetitive and forceful movements, as well as prolonged awkward postures, improper or faulty equipment, noise, temperature, overwork, stress, or even violence. 

2. Listen to Employees Concerns

The employees most exposed to the day-to-day activities are the ones most qualified to address concerns. Their input will prove valuable in determining what areas need particular attention, as well as what improvements are necessary to streamline operations and increase productivity.

3. Identify Underlying Issues

When looking for health or safety issues within your workplace, you should not stop at just identifying them. Once such a hazard is detected, you should also try and look for any underlying issues that may have caused it firstly. Depending on the circumstances, these issues, if not identified, can result in the same problems to reappear. 

4. Report Everything to Management

Nothing should be left out or somehow swept under the rug, not during an inspection, or during every other day. The faster an issue is identified and reported, the easier and less costly it will be to fix. Whatever may seem out of the ordinary, potentially dangerous, or something that stifles productivity or wellbeing should be addressed as soon as possible, for everyone's benefit. 

5. Don't Just Say What's Wrong, Make Recommendations 

For a workplace inspection to be successful, it is not enough to merely point out what is wrong. Realistic solutions need to be brought forth to complete the circle and help improve conditions in the workplace.

Takeaway

Regular workplace inspections are not a drain on resources, as some managers may believe, but the exact opposite. They ensure that everything runs smoothly and without interruption, all the while keeping the workforce safe and productive. For an even more effective auditing process, consider The Checker Software , a fully integrated and scalable software solution.  

Topics: why inspect?, safety management, legal compliance, inspection best practices, inspections and profitability

Why You Should Inspect Cranes More Than You Have To

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Wed, May 23, 2018 @ 09:51 AM

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When I talk to management for companies that use cranes, I always ask, “Do you inspect your cranes?”

An answer I often here is, “Of course, we do. We inspect them when we get them. And we inspect them again every year, as required.”

Standards vary worldwide, but OSHA’s rules for the U.S. are illustrative. A company can be in compliance with OSHA’s regulations for overhead and gantry cranes by conducting only one complete crane inspection a year.  

OSHA does require operators to daily keep an eye out for:

  • Maladjustment of any operating mechanism that interferes with proper operation
  • Deterioration or leakage in lines, tanks, valves, drain pumps, and other parts of air or hydraulic systems
  • Hooks with deformation or cracks
  • Hoist chains that are worn, twisted, or stretched beyond manufacturer recommendations
  • Excessive wear of any component.

 

But these aren’t necessarily formal inspections (i.e., documented, with each component of the crane clearly passing or failing). A formal inspection of the hoist chains is required monthly, but the other “inspections” can be done by simply looking to make sure there are no issues.

Depending on the activity, severity of service, and environment, formal inspections may be required more often than annually, but in normal conditions, once a year satisfies OSHA’s requirements. That’s just not enough. Annual inspections may keep regulators off your back (as long as no incidents occur), but inspecting cranes that infrequently is simply bad business.

Regulations about crane inspections shouldn’t even have to be put into writing. They’re beyond common sense—like don’t walk in the middle of a busy road. The potential cost of a crane accident is so far beyond the labor involved in conducting very frequent and documented crane inspections that’s it’s not even a close decision.

With a few minutes of inspecting a day, using inspection checklists for cranes, you can ensure that crane operators are actually doing their daily inspections. Plus, the completed checklists serve as documents confirming “no negligence” if anything terrible does happen.

Heavy machines and heavy loads, with humans and property all around—much is at risk. Why not reduce that risk as much as possible?

Takeaway

When it comes to crane safety, doing only the minimum inspecting required is risky business.  Using inspection checklists to conduct frequent crane inspections pays off by protecting against the potentially enormous human suffering and financial costs associated with crane failures.

Topics: safety management, legal compliance, equipment maintenance, inspections and profitability, vehicle safety

Preparing for IIoT with Technology that Benefits You Now

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Mon, Apr 30, 2018 @ 11:23 AM

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The so-called “Internet of Things” is changing the way we live. 

The phrase essentially refers to everyday items—things you wear, vehicles, home appliances, etc.—that are connected to the internet. The Internet of Things allows consumers to wear health-monitoring devices, remotely control appliances in their home, and drive cars that always know where they are and what the traffic is like ahead. 

Eventually, virtually every physical aspect of our lives will be connected to the internet in some way. 

In industries such as manufacturing, the Internet of Things is often referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). The IIoT will have a transformative effect on how products are manufactured, sold, and distributed. Combined with emerging technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, the IIoT will enable greater efficiencies than ever before possible as machines become increasingly “smart.” 

But what does this have to do with your operation now?  

Maybe not a lot, at the moment. For most businesses, the IIoT is still largely in the future. The technology is not yet evolved enough for widespread full-scale adoption of IIoT solutions 

But you can begin to prepare for the IIoT revolution. By adopting other computing technologies that can help you increase efficiencies and develop a company culture that’s technologically friendly, you can keep pace on the road toward technological transformation. 

For example, an area in which many companies can move forward technologically is their audits and inspections. Companies that are still using paper for their audits and inspections can adopt a software solution such as The Checker Software. 

You’ll gain immediate benefits, such as improved accuracy; faster, foolproof communication of results; instant creation of corrective action steps; easy monitoring of progress toward resolution; and automatic documentation archiving for compliance and analysis purposes. 

The Checker Software is cloud-based software that requires no complicated setup or major investment, but it is a solution that can immediately allow you to embrace technology to improve efficiency (and safety). 

The full potential of the IIoT may not be realized for years, but you don’t have to wait to begin taking advantage of technology. Steps such as implementing The Checker Software for audits and inspections can help you develop the technological mindset that will be necessary to succeed in the coming years. 

Takeaway 

Don’t wait for the maturation of the IIoT to begin looking for technological solutions to improve your business. Existing technology like The Checker Software can benefit you now, while helping you prepare you for the technology of the future. 

Topics: safety management, inspection software, equipment maintenance, vehicle safety, audit software

Are You Ready For Summer?

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 @ 09:33 AM

 

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Many people think of summer as a time for vacations, enjoying the outdoors, and relishing the long, lazy days. 

But in some industries, such as construction and landscaping, summer is anything but a time to take it easy. Instead, it’s the busiest time of the year.  

That means that vehicles, equipment, and other assets that have gone unused during the cold months will be called upon again. 

Before they can be used, they will need to be inspected to ensure they’re in good, safe working order. And they’ll need to be regularly inspected as they’re used to ensure they continue to be safe and operate as they should. 

If you use inspection checklists such as The Checker to facilitate your inspections, now’s the time to order more if you don’t have them for the assets you’ll begin using again—or if you don’t have enough to get through the summer.  

The Checker inspection checklist books are designed to guide personnel through inspections of hundreds of different types of assets, with detail specific to each type of asset. They make it easier for personnel to conduct audits or inspections, while increasing accuracy and providing documentation of compliance with internal and regulatory standards. 

If the assets haven’t been inspected over the winter, The Checker can serve as a reminder of what to check for each asset. And for personnel who’ve never used the assets, the checklists can educate them about what needs to be checked. 

In those industries where summer is the busy season, there’s a lot to do to prepare for the heightened workload. Don’t forget about the inspecting you need to do, or the tools you need to do it the right way. 

Takeaway 

The Checker inspection checklists make it much easier to prepare assets for increased work during the warm part of the year. If you don’t have them in stock, order now.  

Topics: why inspect?, safety awareness, equipment maintenance, vehicle safety, equipment safety

Don't Wait For Problems - Solve Them!

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Tue, Apr 03, 2018 @ 10:02 AM

 

safety-shoes“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” may be a wise saying in many cases. But not if it’s taken to mean, “If it ain’t broke, don’t do anything to it.”

Reactive maintenance—waiting for vehicles or equipment to break down before giving them maintenance attention—is clearly not the smart strategy. The short-term cost of providing routine, proactive preventive maintenance is almost always negligible compared to the costs of an on-the-job breakdown.

Just think about the last major breakdown your company had. Did you have any of these costs associated with it:

  • a more-expensive repair than if the problem had been detected earlier?
  • damage that could have been prevented?
  • production downtime?
  • overtime for repair or catching operations up to schedule?
  • penalties for falling behind schedule?
  • replacement equipment?
  • lost opportunity for other work?

Wouldn’t it have been far less expensive if you had detected the problem that caused the breakdown before the equipment broke down?

And preventive maintenance has other benefits in addition to minimizing the disruptions of breakdowns. Preventive maintenance also helps reduce costs by:

  • extending the useful life of assets
  • increasing energy efficiency
  • minimizing the risk of non-compliance with health and safety regulations
  • enabling lower-cost, bulk procurement of spare parts in advance
  • allowing for the alignment of scheduled maintenance with downtime and slower production periods.

If you do an honest assessment of your maintenance program and determine it’s mostly reactive, the good news is that you have an ideal opportunity to significantly improve your business.

 

The Role of Inspections

As you seek to lower maintenance costs with a preventive strategy, it’s important to understand that preventive maintenance involves more than the maintenance department. Preventive maintenance requires company-wide policies and processes that identify issues before they escalate into more-costly problems.

Audits and inspections are a primary component of this proactive approach. Not only do they identify defects earlier than waiting for a breakdown, they provide insight into the cause of recurring problems so they can be corrected (e.g., if defects repeatedly occur after a specific operation, you can look to determine if there’s a way to improve the operation to prevent the defects from occurring).  

Inspection checklists are a tool that empowers all personnel responsible for inspecting assets to play a vital role in preventive maintenance. Checklists such as those in The Checker inspection books or The Checker Software guide personnel as they conduct inspections, ensuring that they check everything that needs to be inspected. All defects will be discovered early, when they can be addressed less expensively.

The Role of Management

Management support of preventive maintenance is essential for the strategy to work. Preventive policies and procedures must be followed, and without management support that adherence becomes far less likely. For example, if personnel aren’t mandated to correctly complete inspection checklists, there’s a good chance they won’t.

Unfortunately, management often views maintenance as a cost—not as an opportunity to cut costs. This view leads to short-sighted decisions such as cutting the current maintenance budget rather than seeking a solution to permanently lower maintenance costs.

On the other hand, management that understands the long-term cost savings of preventive maintenance can give their company a meaningful competitive advantage over companies still in a reactive mode.

Takeaway

Reactive maintenance results in costs that could be avoided. Preventive maintenance tools such as inspection checklists help a company eliminate these costs and run a more-efficient maintenance program.

Topics: workplace safety, OSHA, inspections and profitability, safety audits, audit software

If an Inspection Needs to Be Done, Do It!

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Mon, Mar 26, 2018 @ 03:06 PM

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Audits and inspections keep people safe and help businesses run more efficiently, and so we want to encourage our customers to do more of them … not less.

That’s why we when we sell The Checker Software audit/inspection checklists, we don’t charge in the traditional way—per checklist used. This pricing model disincentives organizations from doing all the inspections they should be doing. That’s the last thing we want to do.

Instead, with The Checker Software, you can use as many of our checklists as you need, at no extra cost for each checklist (up to a maximum limit that makes sense for your business).

The cost of checklists is minimal compared with the benefits derived, but nonetheless, we don’t want anyone to cut back on audits and inspections to save money in the short-term. Our goal is to help our customers succeed, so we want them to do being conducting all the audits and inspections they need to be.

With The Checker Software, you can also add as many users as required, with no extra cost per user. If someone needs access, they can have it without any concern about extra spend.

We believe this approach to pricing is consistent with our mission to promote the use of audits and inspections to increase safety, reduce risk, lower insurance premiums, lower maintenance costs, and provide multiple other business benefits.

Takeaway

With The Checker Software, you never have to worry about cost when deciding whether to conduct an audit or inspection that should be done.

Topics: workplace safety, OSHA, inspections and profitability, safety audits, audit software

Safety Regulators Aren’t Playing Around About Workplace Safety

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Mon, Mar 12, 2018 @ 12:05 PM

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How serious is workplace safety becoming? 

Well, it’s always been serious, because human lives and welfares are at stake. But now it’s becoming an increasingly serious business risk. 

Starting just a few months ago (Dec. 14, 2017), Ontario increased the maximum fines for failing to meet workplace health and standards from $500,000 to $1.5 million for corporations. (For individuals and unincorporated businesses, the increase was from $25,000 to $100,000.) 

In Ontario, any fine issued—including Ministry of Labour penalties—is also accompanied by a Victim of Crime surcharge, which is 25 percent of any fine more than $1,000. So, the $ 1.5 million maximum corporate fine would actually be $1.875 million. 

That’s serious money! 

Realistically, fines for an offence under Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act (or under U.S. OSHA) rarely rise to the maximum amount, but the point is made with the increase. The Ontario Ministry of Labour apparently believes fines haven’t been stiff enough.  

So, it’s a fair assumption that all fines will increase, regardless of the severity of the offense. 

The Ministry of Labour has already been active in enforcing safety—conducting more than 79,800 visits to 34,700 workplaces in 2016-17, issuing more than 118,000 orders due to non-compliance. In 2016, the courts imposed more than $11 million in fines, and many businesses aren’t looking forward to the prospect of even higher fines. 

However, Ontario’s action, while it could initially be seen as a threat, is actually good news for businesses that already understand the business value of safety and have been actively seeking to gain it. The risk of higher fines is a competitive disadvantage for their competitors lagging in safety. 

It’s heartening to see the Ministry of Labour take a meaningful step to reinforce the importance of keeping workers and the public safe. 

Our hope is that all companies take notice. Those that do will improve not just safety but their entire business. Those that don’t should be worried because regulators seem resolute in increasing the cost of non-compliance. 

A proven way to improve workplace safety and minimize the risk of regulatory fines is to routinely conduct safety audits and inspections using checklists. The Checker inspection checklist books can be used to guide and document proper audits and inspections—a strong step toward gaining the many business benefits of safety, including compliance. The Checker Software can do the same while also providing the tools to develop a comprehensive audit/inspection program that extracts all the available value from audits and inspections. 

Topics: workplace safety, OSHA, legal compliance, inspections and profitability, safety audits

A $50 book could save you $50,000

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Wed, Feb 21, 2018 @ 09:37 AM

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We were recently approached by a municipality looking for inspection checklist books. Something bad had happened, and now they were focusing on inspections.

They had a front-end loader they used at a dump site. The loader never left that site, and it was never touched by  maintenance. And no one was inspecting it to see if it needed to be! They weren’t even checking its fluid levels on a regular basis.

Not surprisingly, the fluid levels fell too low, and the loader’s engine overheated, causing serious damage to the engine.

After they got the $50,000 repair bill, they couldn’t believe they had been so negligent as to not check the fluid levels. “What were we thinking,” they bemoaned to us.

Unfortunately, stories like that are common. In an effort to save a little money and time in the short-term, organizations neglect to do audits and inspections that could prevent large losses in the future.

This organization wanted to make sure nothing like the loader debacle ever occurred again, and they had correctly decided that using inspection checklists would be an important step in maturing their inspection policies and procedures.

Inspection checklists aren’t a magic solution that will ensure necessary audits and inspections are done. If they’re not used, they’re obviously not going to help.

However, with checklist-usage requirements in place, checklists are a low-cost tool to support any effort to improve audit and inspection policies. They can be used by personnel to make sure they check everything that needs to be checked while documenting the inspections at the same time.

The Checker inspection checklist books average only about $50 (with volume pricing available to lower the cost even more). And we have more than 100  different books—each one created for a specific type of asset. These are not the generic checklists you may have seen (e.g., a vehicle inspection checklist that could be for a car, truck, or off-road vehicle). Our checklists have all the detail necessary to guide proper inspections.

Each book contains 150 inspection checklists, or enough to last for at least half a year in a single-shift operation. That’s a lot of inspection support for not a lot of money.

Spending $50 for a half-year’s worth of protection against the costs of asset failure (not to mention the costs of regulatory non-compliance) is a lot better than choking on a $50,000 bill!

Takeaway

Small spending on audit/inspection tools such as The Checker inspection checklist books (or The Checker Software via the cloud) is good business because the costs of insufficient inspecting can be dramatically high—many, many multiples of the small amount it costs to improve your inspecting.

Topics: legal compliance, equipment maintenance, vehicle safety, safety audits