The Checker Blog

Why It's Time to Begin Using Software to Audit and Inspect Your Assets

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Tue, Jan 22, 2019 @ 07:40 AM

Audits and inspections can be done more efficiently and effectively with software designed specifically for that purpose.

Mobile technology has become almost synonymous with the 21st century. Digital and mobile technology have changed the business landscape virtually beyond recognition. Despite these trends, some companies are still operating with paper-based processes.

When it comes to asset audits and inspections, paper still makes sense in certain situations—such as when you are inspecting a remote facility or job site outside of any internet range. But most companies can benefit tremendously from audit/inspection software. 

Some companies are already using software for this purpose, but it’s essentially nothing more than e-forms unconnected to any system. Other organizations use ERP or other software that has an audit/inspection function but isn’t designed specifically for that purpose. These software “solutions” have some advantages over paper-based audit/inspection processes, but they don’t help users make the most of the information that’s being gathered.  

Where Should You Begin Implementing Audit/Inspection Software?

Safety in the workplace is an essential aspect for the well-being and smooth functioning of an organization. It's always advisable to make use of state-of-the-art technologies to help you achieve this task.

Audit/inspection software such as The Checker Software has numerous capabilities that far surpass paper-based audits and inspections. However, somewhat paradoxically, these many capabilities make it difficult to decide where to focus initial software implementation efforts.

The answer, however, is somewhat simple and straightforward. You should begin this implementation in the areas where audits and inspections will have the most significant impact on your costs and risk.

Regardless of what these areas are, audit/inspection software should be able to forward all results gathered to the appropriate personnel and notify them via alerts, emails, notifications, etc. The software should also be able to initiate corrective actions, report on progress, archive all data, and provide configurable dashboards for automatic reporting.

Scoring capabilities, allowing you to rate the severity of a problem or defect, can also be highly valuable.

Takeaway

Audit and inspection processes stand at the foundation of every comprehensive safety program. In addition to ensuring that you comply with regulations, these procedures will help you identify and correct problems before they can lead to accidents and costs. 

The Checker Software provides all of the above and more. It's a versatile tool that can be used remotely or in-office from any device connected to the internet. For more information, feel free to visit our website or contact us directly. 

Topics: mobile inspections, inspections and profitability, facility audits, audit software, audit/inspection software

Streamlining Facility Management: A Case Study

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Fri, Dec 21, 2018 @ 08:00 AM

fire extinguisher

As the vice president of facilities for Journey Health a large mental healthcare organization, John Pockey is responsible for 80 buildings. The Checker is helping keep them safe.

Many of Journey Health’s buildings are residential facilities housing people suffering from a variety of mental health issues. Pockey has a team of five inspectors, and one of these inspectors visits each facility once a month to conduct site audits, looking for any damage and upkeep needed. While there, they also check emergency equipment to make sure it’s working—a job that’s particularly challenging in Journey Health’s homes.

Fire extinguishers need to be checked monthly in any building, and a tag on each extinguisher is supposed to document each inspection. But some residents with behavior problems like to remove these tags, Pockey said, making it difficult to prove the inspections have occurred in order to comply  with regulations that require monthly inspections.

Also, to keep residents from panicking and helping them evacuate if needed after a loss of power, each residence has emergency lights in the hallways and stairways that will stay on with battery power for up to two hours. These lights also need to be checked monthly, and Pockey wanted a consistent process for inspecting them  and documenting those inspections.

That’s where The Checker Software comes in.

Journey Health is now using The Checker Software for its monthly inspections of the residences, as well as for the organization’s administrative facilities and outpatient clinics. The software, which is provided as software-as-a-service (SaaS), is well worth it’s minimal cost, Pockey said.

“It’s cut out a lot of steps in our process,” he said. “It saves a lot of time.”

The software can be used on any device connected to the internet, and Pockey said his inspectors use it on their smartphones. That capability was a selling point, he said.

“Everybody has a smartphone, so there was no extra equipment cost,” he said.

One feature of the software that Pockey greatly appreciates is its barcode reader. Barcodes can be put on each fire extinguisher and emergency light. By taking a picture of each barcode, the software immediately knows which specific piece of equipment is being inspected.

“I’ve looked for years for barcode software, and the price was just too high,” he said. “But The Checker wasn’t.”

Pockey also likes that work orders can be automatically generated and sent to maintenance when a deficiency is found. And he appreciates that all inspections and corrective actions are automatically archived and aggregated.

“Down the road, as we get into this, it’s going to provide us with a lot of data analytics,” he said.

Journey Health signed up for the software early in 2018, and The Checker provided training sessions until all of Journey Health’s users knew how to get the most out of it. Inspection forms also needed to be built.

“The form-building software is really easy to use, but with 80 buildings, we had to make 80 forms,” Pockey said.

During the process of learning the software and building the forms, The Checker always provided  prompt assistance, Pockey said.

“Their technical support staff is great at troubleshooting problems and fixing whatever needs to be fixed,” he said. ‘They are top-notch.”

The Checker Software is well liked within the organization, he said. Inspectors find that it makes their job easier, and the organization’s leaders like it because they can see reports as soon as they’re finished.

“I highly recommend The Checker Software,” Pockey said. “It’s been extremely valuable to our organization.”

Sharing the Cost of Service

Journey Health System is a nonprofit organization in Pennsylvania that acts as an umbrella organization for its member affiliates, all of which are nonprofits focused on mental health. Journey Health provides these organizations with management, administrative, advocacy, and facility support.

Journey Health’s board of directors is made up of representatives from each of its affiliates, which maintain their independence but benefit from the synergies of working together. Journey Health’s mission is to help these affiliates share costs and be able to focus on their core services.

The support Journey Health provides includes fiscal, human resources, compliance, information technology, clinical best-practice consultation, risk management, and bulk purchasing.

Topics: why inspect?, facility audits, audit software, audit/inspection software

The Role of Inspections in Recovering from Irma, Harvey and Maria

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Mon, Sep 25, 2017 @ 02:00 PM

key-west-81665_1280.jpgIt’s been a terrible, tragic hurricane season for the United States and the Caribbean.

With Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria devastating the Caribbean, Texas, Florida, and surrounding areas, those regions are in a rebuilding mode, trying to recover from the wreckage.

In addition to the many, many homes that must be rebuilt or repaired, municipalities are faced with repair and replacement projects to restore vital infrastructure, and businesses are dealing with damage to their facilities and equipment.

With all this construction taking place, a lot of inspections will be going on, as well. That’s why we feel this is a fitting time to point out the importance of inspection checklists in performing inspections that are thorough and accurate.

Particularly with the volume of inspections that will be occurring, effective inspection checklists are needed to ensure inspections identify all defects—whether you’re using them to evaluate damage or to repair it. In the rush to return to normalcy, it may be tempting to take shortcuts, and inspection checklists counter that tendency by providing consistent, specific guidance on how to conduct the many inspections you’ll be doing.

Inspection checklists also make it easier to manage the large volume of inspections, particularly if the checklists are part of software designed for inspection management.

As the producer of The Checker Inspection Checklist Books and The Checker Software, we of course recommend those solutions to meet the sudden need created by the huge storms. We have hundreds of easy-to-use checklist books, each tailored to a specific type of asset or equipment, with all the detail necessary to determine anything that’s wrong. And with The Checker Software, management and coordination of the multitude of inspections is made easy and less costly.

Whatever solution you use, however, the key is to not rush through inspections, despite the urgency to rebuild. Nothing should fall through the cracks, and to prevent that, you need well-designed checklists that are simple enough to use that they do get used. And you also need a coordinated approach to conducting the inspections.

Takeaway

With all the misery and suffering created by the hurricanes, the last thing anyone needs is for insufficient inspecting to lead to more problems—and more cost. As the affected regions are rebuilt, inspections conducted with inspection checklists are essential to make sure the rebuilding is done right.

 

Topics: inspection checklists, facility audits, audit/inspection software

9 Traits Every Effective Safety Auditor Needs

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 @ 07:00 AM

Not everyone has what it takes to be a good safety auditor.

It takes more than knowing the technical details of what’s necessary to keep people safe in your organization. That knowledge is essential, but it’s only the starting point. The best safety auditors also have the following characteristics.

Safety auditors need to think like detectives at times.1.  A love of getting into the “heart of things.” Like a detective, auditors need to be passionate about uncovering the truth of what’s going on. They don’t settle for the easy answer or accept unverified information.

2.  Strong people skills. Auditing is much more than paperwork—it’s also about dealing with people to get the necessary information and then convincing them to take positive action. The best auditors are persuasive, have a knack for building relationships, and are easily likable.

3.  A service-oriented mindset. Auditors need to be inquisitive, but those with the mindset that their only role is to find problems tend to come across to others in the organization as “out to get us.” Safety auditing isn’t just about assuring safety; it also involves advising people about how to make things safer. It’s about helping everyone in the organization.

4.  A risk-averse nature. The best safety auditors have internalized how important risk management is to sustainable success. They are cautious, thorough, and meticulously follow established auditing procedures in order not to overlook any safety risk. They have nightmares about missing something.

5.  Integrity. The sad reality is that safety auditors are sometimes implicitly pressured (or even outright asked) to overlook or underreport the magnitude of a risk, inefficiency, or other problem that comes to their attention during audits. The auditors who deliver the most value to their organizations aren’t susceptible to this pressure because they have personal value systems that place more worth on fulfilling their duty than on being on everybody’s good side.

6.  Thick skin. There’s a fine line between being likable (which is great) and being unwilling to be unpopular when it’s necessary (which is counterproductive). Auditors who have strong people skills will want to get along well with people—that’s a big part of what “people skills” are about. But when safety auditors are forced to take a hard stand because of their integrity, they need to be able to handle any negative feedback without taking it personally.

7.  Business acumen. Some safety auditors can observe and record, but they don’t have a solid understanding of how what they’re measuring relates to the business’s bottom line and future. This isn’t what companies are looking for from auditors these days. They want insight into what the numbers mean, and safety auditors need to be able to explain their results in a relevant business context.

Successful safety auditors are able to communicate what they find so that it's easy to understand.8.  The capability to provide easy-to-understand reporting. Making a meaningful impact with the results of a safety audit depends on being able to communicate the results so that stakeholders can fully comprehend their importance.

9.  A willingness and ability to gain advantages from technology. Technology (the internet, inspection software, mobile devices, etc.) can benefit safety auditors in numerous ways. For example, audit reporting can be automated, streamlined, more easily shared, and more easily digested if safety auditors are able to make use of technology such as The Checker Software. 

Takeaway

Successful safety auditors bring more to the table than technical knowledge of safety issues. They make use of many skills to be agents of positive change that increase safety and profits. 

 

Top image: Public Domain; Bottom image courtesy of Vector Open Stock, Creative Commons.

Topics: safety management, facility audits, safety audits

A Brief Guide for Walkthrough Safety Inspections of Work Areas

Posted by Richard Jessup on Thu, Feb 19, 2015 @ 02:30 PM

For today's blog, we weclome guest blogger Richard Jessup. Richard (a.k.a. Safety Rich) is passionate about protecting workers and has extensive experience in occupational safety.You can learn more about Richard on his website

JessupSafety inspections do not save lives or injuries; they do give us the opportunity to identify and mitigate hazards. The primary impact inspections have on reducing incidents that cause injuries or fatalities is the actions taken to mitigate hazards. Inspections only identify the hazards. A good inspection report also recommends solutions to reduce those hazards.

Where work is being done, hazards will exist. People will fall, get hit, or be cut. A proper inspection identifies the hazards and mitigates the dangers to the worker. Awareness, attitude, safe behavior, and mental and physical fitness to work also contribute to the reduction of injuries, but those are more difficult to inspect. We focus here on the technical aspects of safety.

If you work for a company in a safety capacity, you will conduct what we will call regular inspections. You have the opportunity to observe work areas on a regular basis. You will get to know the workers, the facility, and the equipment. A full-time safety director can also focus on specific hazardous areas of the operation and observe improvements or changes.  

A government agency is typically going to conduct a limited number of inspections. If the agency finds few violations or infractions, they may not conduct additional inspections within a short time. If, however, the inspector observes multiple violations, you can expect periodic follow-up visits.

Construction sites and general industry facilities encompass the majority of land-based locations. With few modifications, the inspection methods presented here apply to all work areas. Planning is universal. We shall discuss construction first, then talk about the differences you will find in general industry.

Follow Government Methods

Before we start inspecting, we plan our actions and gather important information. Our recommendations are that you follow the methods and procedures of government agencies for two reasons. First, since our primary goal is to reduce injuries, we acknowledge that government standards are usually the best way to accomplish that. Second, by emulating government inspectors, we can reduce the chances of incurring costly fines.   

Many inspections by government agencies begin with reviewing written safety plans, injury logs, and training records. All of these are required by law, so this activity provides a great chance to focus on what the employer should be doing. Almost all injury investigations reveal a lack of planning and training, so completing this first step is making significant progress on our inspection.

Yogi Berra once said that if you do not plan where you are going, you are liable to wind up anywhere. We begin by planning. Decide what, in specific, you are looking for. Compile three lists:

  1. The 10 most frequently cited violations (from agency).  
  2. Three violations that cause most injuries in industry (from industry association).
  3. An appropriate checklist (The checklist should be for the type of facility—general industry or construction—and should include the majority of existing or possible hazards.)

checklist-150938_1280We are strong on the use of a checklist. Having and using a checklist ensures you will look at the important hazards and properly organizes the inspection. Design your inspection report in a format similar to the inspection checklist.

Many construction general contractors are now requiring Site Specific Safety Plans (SSSP), which contain the most prominent hazards faced by the workers on a specific site. Get a copy of the SSSP and note the hazards emphasized—this is a good place to start your inspection plan.

Armed with these plans and tools (checklist!), plan your route and begin the inspection. It is important to note that you should have a good understanding of safety standards, your facility, and the equipment you will observe. If you do not know what a piece of equipment is or what it does, get a worker to show you. Have them demonstrate the operation and tell you what the hazards are.

Start with Facility Overview

We conduct inspections focusing on several zones. Start with an overview of the facility. Where possible, have a supervisor or lead operator accompany you on the inspection. It is their job to implement changes to mitigate hazards.

Begin your inspection by looking over as much of the facility possible at one time. Look for three primary conditions:

  1. Noise levels—Is the noise level over 90dBA? Use a meter to measure; don’t guess.
  2. Air quality—Can you see the air? Is there dust, a haze, or mist? If so, what is causing it?
  3. Housekeeping—Is the facility as clean and orderly as possible during active work and production?

Then Get Specific

Once you have a general overview of conditions, walk through the facility observing small sections in concentric circles near, mid, and far from your position. Scan each zone multiple times looking for specific hazards. Stop periodically for a short time to concentrate on the small things you might miss in a scan while walking.

Observe the proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). In many facilities the workers will don the PPE as soon as they see an inspector in the area. Note how many workers fail to use PPE or quickly put it on when they see you.

During the inspection, observe moving equipment such as cranes, scissor lifts, man lifts, forklifts, and other powered or manual gear. 

Takeaway

This is a brief overview of conducting a walkthrough inspection. Knowledge of safety standards is critical. Use a checklist to be certain of not missing a hazard. Your inspection, report, and corrective actions can save lives and injuries, so they are worth doing right.

Topics: safety management, inspection checklists, inspection basics, facility audits