The Checker Blog

Safety Regulators Aren’t Playing Around About Workplace Safety

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


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


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!


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

If a Workplace Accident Occurs, Do You Have a Defensible Position?

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Mon, Feb 12, 2018 @ 08:30 AM


We often talk about “being compliant” because our audit/inspection software and inspection checklist books are designed to keep you compliant with applicable health and safety regulations.

However, we’re aware that achieving “100 percent” compliance is a considerable, perhaps impossible, challenge. Even if you’re using tools like The Checker and are providing proper training and incentivization for a strong health and safety program, there’s always the possibility of human error, of someone accidentally doing something that’s against regulations. And sometimes personnel just don’t do what they’re supposed to do.

That’s why (while perfect compliance is always the goal), it’s important to value the concept of having a “defensible position” if anything goes wrong. In general (not legally specific) terms, what this means is that you can demonstrate that you’ve made a good faith effort to do everything practical to keep your personnel and the public safe.

Of course, there are very precise requirements from regulatory agencies like OSHA, and if you haven’t met one of these requirements when you’re inspected—or when an accident occurs—you are liable to substantial fines. But the amount of these fines (and sometimes whether you get a warning or a fine) is clearly influenced by your defensible position—how well you’re able to prove that your company has done its best to keep the workplace safe and healthy and that the infraction wasn’t due to organizational negligence.

This defensible position is also critical if your company ends up in court, fighting charges or lawsuits claiming negligence.

The good news is that compliance solutions have benefits beyond creating a defensible position. First and most importantly, striving for compliance helps keep people safe. For example, auditing or inspecting assets with The Checker satisfies regulatory requirements and provides ready documentation of compliance, but also keeps unsafe equipment from being used and hurting people.

And more often that not, compliance solutions lead to process and quality improvements that benefit the bottom line. Think about the value of discovering a defect that needs immediate correction to avoid a productivtity-sapping breakage during the next shift. Or consider how inspection results can be used to identify the durability of a particular brand of asset. In ways like this, and many others, compliance correlates with efficiency.

So, never stop pursuing compliance but realize that even if you never achieve 100 percent compliance, your pursuit will result in a defensible position that can save major dollars. And understand that the pursuit will keep your personnel and the public safer, while likely increasing profitability.


You can never ensure perfect compliance, but with compliance tools like The Checker you can ensure that you’re doing all you can to be compliant, have a defensible position in case you’re accused of negligence, and are reaping the many associated benefits of compliance efforts.

Topics: legal compliance, inspection software, safety audits, audit software

Telematics Software Isn’t All You Need to Manage Your Vehicles

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Thu, Feb 01, 2018 @ 12:30 PM


Telematics software is a powerful tool for fleet management, but it’s not a sufficient solution for managing vehicle inspections.

With its remote diagnostic capabilities, telematics can help with identifying vehicle performance problems, such as a vehicle’s current fuel efficiency, but it can’t replace the need for a visual inspection. Telematics isn’t going to tell you, for example, that there’s a crack in the bucket of a backhoe.

Much telematics software isn’t even designed to provide useful information about a vehicle’s condition. Instead, it is designed to monitor driver behavior, such as location, average speed, braking tendencies, fuel usage, and idle times.

However, some telematics software does monitor conditions relative to maintenance, such as the level of oil and other fluids. Some solutions can even be used to intelligently schedule preventative maintenance based on a vehicle’s condition and shop resources.

But even the telematics software designed to facilitate predictive maintenance isn’t designed to ensure compliance and documentation of inspections performed. Just because a vehicle can automatically communicate its condition doesn’t free you from the obligation to conduct and document inspections as legally required.

Ideally, a telematics solution that provides diagnostic data about a vehicle’s condition would be used in conjunction with audit/inspection software designed specifically to guide, document, and report vehicle inspections.

The telematics software can help maintenance personnel keep on top of important vehicle metrics, while a robust audit/inspection software solution (e.g., The Checker Software) can be used to detect defects that are undetectable by telematics software, as well as to provide readily available inspection documentation for compliance and liability-minimizing purposes.

In addition, you can instantly communicate results to the people you choose, add notes and pictures, and assign tasks to resolve defects. And the inspection data you gather is not only important to demonstrate your commitment to safety, it can be used (via configurable dashboards) to guide decisions about operational, maintenance, and procurement issues.

No telematics software can do that. And no telematics software can be used to audit or inspect not just vehicles but also facilities, jobsites, and any other asset you need to check.

So, yes, telematics software has its place—keeping tabs on assets—but it’s no replacement for audit/inspection software that can manage all aspects of a comprehensive program designed to improve safety and ensure compliance. Telematics software is a valuable tool, but it’s not an inspection management tool.


If you’ve invested in (or thinking about) telematics software for your fleet, don’t presume that it’s a sufficient replacement for software designed to manage audit and inspection processes. You need both.

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

Using Software for Audits and Inspections: It's Not Rocket Science

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Wed, Jan 24, 2018 @ 08:00 AM


Companies that aren’t using software for audits and inspections often cite the following concerns when justifying why they’re still using paper forms: 

  • Software will be difficult and time-consuming to set up 
  • Software will be challenging for personnel to learn how to use 
  • Software will be met with resistance from older personnel who aren’t computer-savvy. 

While we understand that the uncertainty of change can be worrisome, these concerns are not legitimate reasons to put off a move to software, which is the inevitable future of audits and inspections. With The Checker Software, each of these worries is unfounded. 

Easy to Get Started 

The Checker Software is a cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, and it requires no IT expertise to begin using it. There’s no loading and technical configuration of software required. There’s no complex integration with existing internal systems. You simply create an account on the web, log in, and begin using the software’s many features—on any device connected to the internet (PC, tablet, or phone). 

Easy to Use 

Put simply, if you can press buttons, you can use The Checker Software. Its user interfaces, dashboards, and communication and reporting tools are so intuitive that they’re self-explanatory. The software guides users to such a degree that there’s virtually no learning curve. If you can fill out a simple application online, you can use The Checker Software with no problem.  

The Checker Software is not a confusing, intricate, difficult-to-master software tool like an ERP system, in which audit and inspection functionality is buried amid many other functions. Our software’s sole purpose to make it easier and more-efficient to conduct audits and inspections. 

Easy for Non-Techies to Like 

Older workers are often stereotyped as being reluctant (or even unable) to use computer technology. But this is largely a myth. Computers are so ingrained in our society now that, as the saying goes, “my grandmother is on Facebook.” The internet, email, and texting have been around for more than 20 years—and all put the most extremely technophobic people (who probably aren’t still in the workforce) have become accustomed to using these tools.  

Even those who were initially reluctant have come to appreciate the advantages of computer technology, and they aren’t going to balk at a software tool that will make it easier for them to conduct audits and inspections. 

And think about younger workers whom you’re hiring and promoting. Even if they’re not “technical” people, per se, they’re likely to regard paper audits and inspections as antiquated and inefficient. When choosing between working for a company that uses software and one that uses paper, they’re probably going to consider the one that uses software as more desirable and modern (all else being equal). 


You can gain the many benefits of software in your audit and inspections processes with The Checker Software—without the challenges of implementing and using a complex tool that requires technical aptitude. 

Topics: inspection software, risk assessments

Risky Business

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Mon, Jan 15, 2018 @ 03:12 PM


The smaller a company, the riskier its workplace risk.

A single serious accident or fine can have a disastrous effect on a small to medium-sized business (SMB) operating on a tight budget.

If the company (or an employee) is negligent, an accident can expose an SMB to crushing civil judgments, fines, increased insurance premiums, and legal fees—possibly even criminal liability. Even without an accident, a visit from a regulatory agency (OSHA, Ontario Ministry of Labour, etc.) can result in substantial fines for failing to meet minimum requirements for mitigating workplace risk.

That’s why anyone who has an ownership stake and/or is responsible for managing workplace risk in an SMB shouldn’t be satisfied until they are confident that:

  • All personnel have been adequately trained in general workplace safety, as well as safety for their specific roles
  • Workplace safety policies and procedures are clearly defined and continually communicated to personnel
  • All workplaces are compliant with applicable safety regulations
  • Personnel have the tools necessary to keep the workplace as safe as possible
  • Workplaces and equipment are continually inspected to ensure they’re safe.

Protecting Against the Risk

The day-to-day pressures of operating an SMB can easily result in insufficient attention paid to managing that risk. The company’s leaders gnawingly worry about what could go wrong, but they feel they can’t take the time or spend the money to do anything different than what they’ve been doing. They’re just hoping for the best, playing Russian Roulette.

A failure to act is often due to uncertainty about how to begin. Do we need to better train our personnel? Should we strengthen our safety policies and procedures? Do we need to have stronger enforcement of inspections? Do we need to inspect more things?

The answer to all these questions could be “yes,” and that could be overwhelming. A company’s leadership might not know where to start.

We suggest considering audit/inspection software such as The Checker Software, which has a multitude of features designed specifically to improve audit and inspection processes, thereby mitigating workplace risk. In addition to enabling more-accurate audits and inspections, this software can be used to teach, communicate, and enforce policies and procedures. And its reporting features can provide company leaders with the information they need to be confident in their business’s management of workplace risk.

Whatever you do, do something. Make a decision about how to reduce workplace risk, and start doing it.

The Bottom Line

Workplace risk is such a major threat to SMBs that it’s bad business not to make it a top priority, and owners and executives who are worried about their business’s workplace risk shouldn’t delay in addressing the issue.

Topics: inspection software, risk assessments

Ensuring Health and Safety in Your Business: It’s Your Ass on the Line

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 @ 12:51 PM


When you’re the owner of a small to medium-sized business (SMB), workplace health and safety is extremely personal.

Even if your SMB is incorporated, a work-related fatality, serious injury, or major illness due to negligence can:

  • jeopardize the business’s finances due to regulatory fines, liability judgement, higher insurance costs, and operational disruptions
  • expose you (not just the business) to civil lawsuits lead to criminal charges against you if laws were broken
  • fill you with personal guilt for not protecting the people hurt.

And even without an accident or health issue, non-compliance with relevant regulations can result in fines that are hard for an SMB and its owners to absorb.

With so much on the line (your business, your personal finances, your employees’ well-being), it’s easy to see why workplace risk is a constant worry of so many SMB owners. If you’re not worried, you should be.

But worry doesn’t have to mean losing sleep if you turn that worry into a proactive approach to workplace health and safety. Worry is good if it leads to positive action. It’s only bad when it festers and you do nothing to address its causes.

Without in any way discounting the suffering that lax workplace health and safety programs can cause for your personnel, if you own an SMB, ensuring health and safety is a matter of preventing your own suffering.

There are many elements to a solid health and safety program, such as training of new personnel, recurring re-training, incentives to work safely, and consequences for being unsafe. However, no measures will be adequate without regular inspections of facilities, work-sites, and equipment. Even if your personnel are doing everything right, a failure to detect a problem that could have been discovered with an inspection can lead to a disastrous problem.

That’s why we strongly recommend a formalized, strongly enforced inspection program to ease the worry about what could go wrong. Taking inspections very seriously leads to peace of mind. For example, using The Checker inspection checklist books or The Checker Software, you can be assured that everything that should be inspected is being thoroughly and properly inspected when it should be—and that’s comforting knowledge to have.

Your business’s future is at stake. Don’t gamble with it. Use all the resources available to prevent a health and safety issue from dealing you a losing hand.

The pressure to ensure workplace health and safety is particularly intense for SMB owners, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Utilizing tools such as The Checker, owners can rest easy knowing they’ve minimized the risk of a catastrophic accident or employee health incident.

Topics: inspection software, risk assessments

Is Your Company Ready for Audit/Inspection Software? Download Our Checklist of Considerations

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Tue, Nov 21, 2017 @ 12:44 PM


In The Checker blog, we consistently advocate the use of software designed to maximize the value of audits and inspections.  

But as much as we believe in the value of audit/inspection software, we realize that not all companies are ready for it.  In some companies, certain issues need to be addressed before moving to a software solution.  

To help you determine if you have any of these issues, we’re offering a free download of a Checklist of questions you can ask to determine your company’s software readiness. 

When Companies Aren’t Quite Ready 

Adopting audit/inspection software includes some technical and logistical issues and you shouldn’t overlook those (and our Checklist doesn’t). But as the nature of many of The Checklist questions reveals, having buy-in from personnel and management is an overriding prerequisite for success. 

If a significant number of the personnel who are going to be using the software are the type of people who would say of themselves, “I’m not a computer person,” then smooth adoption of the software will be difficult. Even a single key company leader can make adoption a challenge if that leader doesn’t appreciate the power of the software and the business logic for using it. 

In general, companies should evaluate their digital savviness. If the people affected by a switch to software are going to grumble and resist the move—or if they simply aren’t comfortable enough with the technology to use if effectively—then it may be premature to make a quick switch to software.  

It’s not that software requires IT staff or users who are computer whizzes—the cloud-based <Checker Software> is so simple to set up and easy to use that no special technical knowledge is necessary. However, personnel without a basic comfort and familiarity with using software are more likely to resist the change and lack the mindset necessary to make use of the software’s full capabilities. 

And the leaders who control the purses strings—including key decision-makers who might never directly use the software themselves—need to understand what those full capabilities are.  

Even if leaders who want the software are able to get it budgeted, division among leadership can undermine the software’s adoption. Without an understanding of what the software can provide (much more than just allowing for inspections on mobile devices), the software’s value is likely to be underappreciated by some key decision-makers, potentially leading to their impatience with the adoption process and even denial of continued funding. 

Fortunately, no challenge related to personnel and management buy-in—or any other factor that could hinder audit/inspection software adoption—is too great to overcome. But first you must identify the specific challenges for YOUR organization. That’s what our Checklist of considerations is for. 

Download it now!


Moving from paper-based processes to audit/inspection software can greatly benefit any organization—reducing costs by improving communication of results, accuracy, maintenance efficiency, planning, compliance management, and much more.  

However, before moving to software, it’s wise to evaluate your company’s readiness to make the most of it. Our Checklist will help you determine how prepared you are to begin using software, as well to identify areas on which to focus to increase readiness. 

Topics: inspection checklists, inspection basics, inspection best practices, The Checker history, audit software

A Book For Every Thing

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Wed, Nov 01, 2017 @ 08:00 AM


One day while visiting a customer, we asked if The Checker inspection checklist books were helping them with their inspections. They didn’t know what we were talking about.

We explained that they’ve been ordering our checklist books for crane inspections for some time.

“Oh, the crane books,” our host said. “Sure, we love those. They work great.”

That conversation caused us to wonder: How many of our customers are using our books to inspect only their cranes, forklifts, trucks, etc. and don’t know they could use our books to inspect any asset in their organization?

We understand why customers might not realize how many ways our inspection checklists can be used. After all, one of the strengths of The Checker compared to other checklist-book providers is that each of our books contains a checklist that’s specific to what’s being inspected. Even though each book has the same easy-to-use format, the detail in each checklist is different based on the equipment, vehicle, or other asset being inspected.

So, I can see why our customer came to think of The Checker as “crane books” only—we clearly made our crane checklists for the sole purpose of inspecting cranes.

I just want to make sure that our current and future customers realize that our books’ specificity doesn’t mean that we’re limited. We have more than a hundred books, each designed for a specific type of inspection, and we can create customized books if necessary.

Is there anything in your organization that you’re inspecting without using The Checker? If you like the preciseness and efficiencies of The Checker for what you’re already using it for, why not take advantage of The Checker for everything you inspect?

Even if you only need one type of inspection book in your role, there may be other areas of your organization—different departments, divisions, locations, etc.—that could benefit. You might also have strategic partners who would appreciate learning about how The Checker can help them.

We don’t mind being called the “crane book” because we believe we’re the best provider of crane inspection checklists. We just want you to know that we can help with inspections other than cranes, or any other single asset—not because our checklists are generic but because we took the time to develop multiple checklists that are each specific to exactly what needs inspecting.

Download our list of checklists to see what we mean.


The Checker inspection checklist books can be used for all the inspections your organization does because you can choose a book that’s designed specifically for each type of asset you inspect.


Topics: inspection checklists, inspection basics, inspection best practices, equipment maintenance

Roadside Inspections? No Problem

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Wed, Oct 25, 2017 @ 09:56 AM

roadside inspection.jpg 

The results are in, and not surprisingly the top three violations during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s 2017 Roadcheck Inspection Blitz were for brake systems, cargo securement, and tires/wheels.

The annual blitz was held June 6-8 in the United States and Canada. CVSA certified inspectors conducted more than 62,000 Level I, II, and III commercial vehicle and driver safety inspections during this year’s crackdown, with the majority being the 37-step Level I inspections. Vehicles and drivers were inspected at inspection sites, weigh stations, and roving patrol locations.

Overall, 19.4% of vehicles and 4.7% of drivers were placed out of service following the inspections, according to CVSA. Among the more than 40,000 Level I inspections, 23% of vehicles and 4.2 % of drivers were placed out of service.

This annual blitz could be a cause for fear. But not if you’re using The Checker inspection checklist books.

These detailed checklist books include all the items than need to be in working order if a driver is stopped for an inspection—during a CVSA blitz or any other time of the year during a regular CVOR (Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration) check or any other inspection by a regulatory agency.

“The books are great,” says Tom Hester of Shady Lane Expert Tree Care Inc. in Ontario. “The guys love them. And since we’ve been using them, we’ve had several CVOR and MTO (Ontario Ministry of Transportation) roadside inspections with no issues.”

With a duplicate copy of each checklist form in each book, drivers can inspect their vehicles, turn a copy into the office, and keep one on hand in the vehicle, ready to prove to any roadside inspector that vehicle inspections are done regularly and thoroughly. Most importantly, use of the checklists ensures that vehicles won’t be on the road if they’re not roadworthy because of some defect.

Shady Lane isn’t worried about roadside inspections, and you don’t have to be either with The Checker.


Whether it’s brakes, tires, wheels, cargo securement, or any other common problem, The Checker inspection checklist books will ensure that your drivers know about the problem before enforcement officers do or lives are endangered.

View our extensive library of inspections for vehicles and other commercial assets here.


Topics: inspection checklists, inspection software, inspection best practices, audit/inspection software