As Benjamin Franklin once said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Inspection checklists are designed for preventing potential issues that could damage your equipment or operations and put your staff at an increased risk of injury or death. Equipment operators have the potential to affect their own safety, the safety of others present on the job site, and the life of the equipment and maintenance costs.
When used properly, inspection checklists ensure that a certain piece of equipment has been properly inspected. After performing a thorough inspection, the person responsible for it verifies that everything is in the right order.
Some pieces of equipment have unique functionalities, parts, or other factors that require specialized areas of inspection. Therefore, an effective checklist must be specific to a particular type of equipment that’s being inspected. Proper inspections are essential for ensuring staff safety around equipment and are a fundamental part of preventive maintenance.
Inspections Are About Accountability
Traditionally available only on paper, today’s checklists can be digital and be done directly on handheld devices while in the field. That way, the collected data is saved and assimilated immediately, making the reporting process a lot easier. Inspection checklists should be designed simply, and they should be easy to use, while also being comprehensive so that each piece of equipment gets inspected thoroughly. In case any piece of equipment shows any sign of damage, its use should be suspended until the problems are fixed
Each of the following scenarios illustrates the necessity and importance of inspection checklists.
• At the beginning of a shift, an equipment operator performs an inspection. After going through the checklists, he or she notices a problem that hasn’t been reported on the checklist. That checklist deficiency is noted, and the operator doesn’t come to own the issue.
• There has been an accident due to malfunctioning equipment. The investigators and lawyers come and ask to see some proof that the faulty piece of equipment had been properly maintained and was in good working order.
• A part of the equipment keeps malfunctioning. Each time it is used, the problems gets worse and is costlier to fix. However, the problem is not immediately obvious - no one notices it because there is no inspection checklist in place to direct someone to check the equipment. To put it simply – no person is accountable for checking that part of the equipment to ensure it’s working properly.
• If you have detailed inspection records readily available for each piece of equipment, government inspectors will be blown away.
Benefits of Inspection Checklists
The power of inspection checklists is in the performance of thorough but quick equipment inspections before and after operation.
But if you are using generic and inexpensive checklists, you'll then have your staff perform inspections that won’t bring you the full benefits because the checklists can't be trusted. And the benefits are not negligible – greater worker safety, reduced equipment downtime, and lower maintenance costs.
Furthermore, generic checklists are not reassuring in any regulatory or legal situation. If you are inspecting what needs to be inspected, you will want your checklists to demonstrate that you are actually doing it and have proof to back up your claims.
Once your field staff responsible for conducting inspections starts taking things seriously, it will send a message across the organization that the company is also serious about it. Everyone will then realize that inspections are necessary for increasing efficiency and ensuring the safety of everyone involved in company operations.