The Checker Blog

How to Make a Comprehensive Safety Program Work

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Fri, Jan 11, 2019 @ 01:30 PM

A comprehensive safety program with regular inspections can keep personnel safe and provide many ancillary benefits.

When talking about workplace safety, most businesses think they’re at least above average. But if they were to look at the details and how equipment operates in the field on a day-to-day basis, the reality may prove to be somewhat different

Most managers are aware that safety programs help minimize work-related injuries or sudden equipment failures, as well as the inherent costs that come attached to these issues. But some are still unaware of the short-term, bottom-line benefits of safety. 

Workers may be inclined to skip on safety procedures so they can finish their work faster. Some managers may turn a blind eye to this because it's easy to take safety for granted when accidents aren't happening.

If work-related accidents (even small ones) are a fairly common occurrence, or the equipment tends to break unexpectedly, you need a comprehensive safety program. 

Key Components of a Comprehensive Safety Program

Regular safety inspections and audits

The foundation of every safety program lies with regular inspections and audits. These forms of data collection help companies detect any problems before they can result in an accident or malfunction.

Inspection tools

Personnel need to be supplied with the resources to conduct audits and inspections accurately and efficiently. For example, The Checker Software allows safety inspectors to identify trends or problems that may require additional safety measures. 

Training

Regular safety audits and inspections will bring to light any unsafe activity by personnel. You can use this information for training purposes, focusing on areas that may need improvement. 

Additional Benefits of Safety

Maintenance

Analyzing audit and inspection data will reveal long-term patterns about the likelihood of when assets will break down. You can use this information to predict wear and develop preventive maintenance strategies to counteract the issues. 

Business Processes

Audits and inspections will also point to issues causing assets to fail prematurely. For example, if a piece of equipment breaks down every time within the next month after using it for a specific operation, it's safe to conclude that personnel might be using that equipment wrong when performing that function. There could, of course, be other causes of the problem but at least you were made aware of the correlation. 

Takeaway

There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to a comprehensive safety program. Each company needs to develop its program based on its individual needs. But in every case, a tool such as The Checker Software can serve as the foundation for your safety program. For more information, contact us directly.

Topics: audit/inspection software, safety audits, equipment maintenance, inspection software, workplace safety, safety management

Five Ways to Prolong the Value of Your Assets

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Tue, Dec 18, 2018 @ 03:00 PM

image for prolonging assets blog

The so-called Age of Efficiency is upon us. For the past several decades, the consensus was to buy cheap, wear out, and buy again. But this model has proven to be inefficient. It also greatly strains the environment. 

A more sensible and logical approach to the issue is to prolong the life and, by extension, the value of your assets. This approach ensures you achieve the highest ROI possible, all the while keeping your carbon footprint at a minimum. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved. 

So, what are the five most natural things you can do to prolong the value of your assets? 

Doing Regular Maintenance

Taking the necessary time to create a scheduled preventative maintenance plan is an excellent way of preventing any minor issues from turning into large and expensive events.

You can even turn to a bit of predictive maintenance. By looking at the manufacturer's service records, you can predict when your equipment needs repair, based on the average lifespan of various components, the extent of their daily usage, etc.  

Employee Training

Your employees should be trained on the proper handling and maintenance of the tools and equipment they handle. It's important to remember that, since assets such as these are not employees’ personal property, they will frequently disregard their value, thinking it's not their problem if they break down. 

And while this is technically true, since you will be the one who will have to pay for repairs or replacements, your employees should nevertheless be trained on how to handle company assets correctly. Not only will this prolong an asset’s life, it will ensure the users' safety. Even seasoned workers may need refresher training from time to time.

Conducting Regular Inspections 

Regular inspections for compliance are not only mandatory but also a great way to keep your assets working better and longer. These inspections are specifically for identifying any potentially hazardous conditions, determining the root causes of those risks, and monitoring hazard controls. They also recommend corrective actions, take into account employee and supervisor concerns, and offer further understanding of safety standards. 

Keeping Clear Records

Recordkeeping transparency plays an equally crucial role in maintaining the value of your assets for a prolonged period. By knowing what inspections and maintenance have been performed, your staff can determine with a higher degree of accuracy when the next review is due. This ties in with the predictive maintenance mentioned above. 

Proper Housekeeping

Keeping the workspace clean and organized is yet another easy step you can take to protect the value of your assets. You should make a habit of cleaning the floor after work hours have ended and make sure that assets are safely stored away from the elements.

Takeaway

Prolonging the life and value of your assets should not be something hard to do. With a bit of care and mindfulness, it can be easily achieved. And by using The Checker, you will ensure that all of your inspections, audits, and maintenance plans are up-to-date and performed on a regular basis, leaving no stone unturned.

Topics: equipment maintenance, inspections and profitability, why inspect?, legal compliance

Why You Should Inspect Cranes More Than You Have To

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

crane-3327878_1920

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

Preparing for IIoT with Technology that Benefits You Now

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

industry-2496189_1920

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

Are You Ready For Summer?

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

 

lawnmower-384589_1920

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

A $50 book could save you $50,000

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

money-163502_1280.jpg

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

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

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

industry-2496192_1920.jpg

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.

Takeaway

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

A Book For Every Thing

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

books-2547179_1280.jpg 

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.

Takeaway

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 best practices, inspection checklists, equipment maintenance, inspection basics

Getting the Most Out of Audit and Inspection Results

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Tue, Feb 23, 2016 @ 03:30 PM

Much useful information is contained in the findings of safety audits and inspections.

On top of the critical data you need to measure internal and regulatory compliance to safety standards, you can get valuable guidance in areas such as:

  • Identifying hazardous and underperforming components of critical assets (e.g., equipment used in operations, safety equipment, vehicles, trains, aircraft.)
  • Identifying hazardous working conditions at worksites and facilities.
  • Anticipating and avoiding future hazards based on historical data.
  • Predicting the availability of assets and facilities, as well as evaluating their value, based on how well they stand up to use.
  • Developing preventive maintenance schedules for assets and facilities.
  • Monitoring if personnel are using assets and facilities properly.

Safety audits and inspections can be improved with the use of audit and inspection software.But how do you access this important information? Gathering this data in your safety audits and inspections is only the beginning. To get the most out of it, you need to be able to produce reports that make sense of it.

And that’s exactly what the Reports feature of The Checker Software allows you to do.

Easy-to-Create, Easy-to Understand Reports

The Reports feature is designed to pull out the key data from your safety audits and inspections and present it in a format that allows for quick digestion.

When safety audits and inspections are done, the results are immediately included in the Reports you have set up. We offer a wide range of out-of-the-box Reports you can select from, or you can easily create custom Reports—no IT help needed!

The format of every Report is designed for ease of comprehension. Trends are highlighted, problems are red-flagged, and insightful comparisons are automatically made.

And unlike paper reports, The Checker Software’s Reports feature facilitates instant communication of a Report to everyone who needs to see it. There is no lag in sharing, thereby minimizing delays in taking action based on the information in the Report. Operations, maintenance, and management are always on the same page.

The Reports can be viewed on any internet-connected device, and they can be downloaded for printing.

Takeaway

To gain the most value from the safety audits and inspections you conduct, you need a reporting function that allows for quick insight into the data produced. The Checker Software’s Reports are designed to do just that—assimilating and organizing key metrics related to compliance, maintenance, operational performance, and more.

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

The Business Benefits of Equipment Inspections

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Fri, Jan 09, 2015 @ 10:40 AM

In our 25 years of helping businesses improve workplace safety, we’ve observed that companies that regularly conduct equipment inspections are generally more profitable than those that don’t.

Yet a perception remains that equipment inspections are all about compliance.

Equipment inspections save money.This preoccupation with compliance is understandable. Depending on the location and industry, companies may be required to inspect certain equipment on a mandated schedule. When you’re required to do something, it’s natural to think you’ve accomplished what you’re supposed to do when you fulfill the requirement.

But take a look at top-performing companies. You’ll see that as a group they inspect more often than required and that they inspect equipment not even covered by regulations.

Their treatment of inspections as a vital business process shows that they realize that equipment inspections produce benefits beyond compliance. They know from experience that costs are reduced and productivity increases when inspections are done thoroughly and results are acted upon appropriately.

The key is to have a systematic program for equipment inspections that includes:

  •          Equipment checklists such as The Checker for ensuring accurate identification of equipment problems.
  •          Procedures for timely communication of inspection results to the maintenance department.
  •          Management support that includes consequences and rewards related to how well inspection procedures are followed.

Such a program can achieve multiple business benefits.

Lowering the costs of workplace injuries.

Proper equipment inspections reveal problems with equipment that would cause it to be unsafe. This reduces the likelihood of workplace injuries and their substantial costs, which include:

  •          Work delays.
  •          Lost work time.
  •          Re-staffing costs.
  •          Increased Worker’s Comp premiums.
  •          Increased group health coverage premiums.
  •          Fines.
  •          Liability.

In addition, regularly looking for safety issues while conducting inspections tends to increase overall safety awareness among personnel, which is fundamental in lowering workplace incidence rates.

Reducing job interruptions due to equipment failure.

When equipment inspections are regularly performed, problems that could cause equipment to fail are identified before the equipment is deployed and a job process is in place.

When a necessary piece of equipment breaks down during a job, it’s common for other pieces of equipment to also become idle. Jobs are slowed, and personnel often end up being paid for unproductive time.

It’s much better to identify problems for maintenance attention or repair and schedule jobs, labor, and replacement equipment accordingly.

Fixing equipment problems before they become more-expensive problems.

Equipment problems tend to escalate. One problem not known about or left unattended can lead to other problems. If the problem eventually leads to failure in the field, the result is the safety-related and productivity costs discussed above. And once failure occurs, replacement is often more expensive due to time pressures.

When pre-use equipment inspections reveal problems—and those problems are immediately communicated to maintenance personnel who can take action—equipment can receive the attention it needs when it can be most effective, at a lower cost.

Providing documentation for protection against liability exposure.

If a workplace injury or fatality occurs, you can be in compliance but still be found negligent. When using an equipment checklist such as The Checker, the checklist provides evidence that inspections have been performed, which can prove to be invaluable in defending against liability claims.

Takeaway

A systematic program of regularly inspecting commercial equipment will not only provide compliance with regulations, it can strengthen a business by lowering costs, reducing negative effects on productivity, and guarding against liability risk.

 

Image courtesy of 401kcalculator.org, Creative Commons.

Topics: why inspect?, equipment maintenance, inspections and profitability, equipment safety