"Pencil whipping" is a term used to describe the practice of signing off on work that hasn’t actually been completed. With the inspections, pencil whipping refers to filling out an inspection form or checklist without having actually performed a thorough inspection. This could involve either faking the results of the inspection or merely crossing off things on a list without first ensuring that they are in excellent functioning order.
The increased risk of accidents and injuries are not the only dangerous consequences of pencil whipping during safety inspections; the inspection process as a whole can be weakened as a result.
Here are The Checker’s recommendations and best practices for reducing pencil whipping during inspections:
Provide clear and concise instructions: The Checker’s clear and concise instructions for inspections can help ensure that workers understand exactly what they are supposed to be looking for and how to properly document their findings. This can help reduce the risk of workers simply checking off items on the list without verifying their condition. The Checker also offers inspection software with checklists that have work instructions, allowing organizations to get as detailed as necessary in their instructions to ensure that there are no gaps in knowledge and failure in execution.
Use visuals such as photographs or process flow diagrams: When you look at a text-heavy document, the tendency is to skim and potentially overlook critical areas. And when workers come across something they can’t immediately identify, there is also the likelihood to skip it as they may be too embarrassed to admit to someone that they don’t know what the item is or looks like. Include photographs or diagrams in the inspection instructions that can help workers better understand what they are supposed to be looking for, which can help reduce the risk of pencil whipping.
Use checklists that require detailed explanations: Are you more likely to study if the test is multiple choice or in essay question form? Pencil whipping mostly occurs with checklists that only require inspectors to tick off a box once they’ve made an assessment, much in the same way that students can go through a multiple-choice test and hope that luck is on their side. By using checklists that require workers to provide detailed explanations of their findings, workers are expected to conduct their inspections thoroughly and accurately.
Use inspection software: The Checker inspection software can be configured to require workers to enter detailed information about their findings can help reduce the risk of pencil whipping, as it is more difficult to falsify digital records.
Implement verification systems: Implementing systems to verify the accuracy of inspections, such as having a second worker review the inspection results, can help reduce the risk of pencil whipping.
Companies should take precautions against pencil whipping and make sure inspections are being carried out correctly and properly. Depending on the situation, this may entail instructing staff on inspection best practices, putting in place mechanisms to double-check the veracity of inspections, or holding individuals accountable for completing thorough inspections.