The Checker Blog

What Makes a Good Inspection Checklist?

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Thu, Jan 31, 2019 @ 03:00 PM

A good inspection checklist is easy to use.

Inspections and audits act as the foundation for every safety program out there. They’re how companies can gather the necessary insight to discover potential hazards, equipment malfunctions, improper staff training, or unsafe working conditions, to name a few. 

Despite this fact, many organizations look at inspections and audits as a sort of necessary evil, just for the sake of regulatory compliance. Consequently, they often cut corners or turn a blind eye to poor inspection procedures. 


The Actual Benefits of a Good Inspection Checklist

When a comprehensive inspection checklist is put together, it will contain all the necessary details for every individual asset. It needs to be simple and easy-to-use in the field but not at the expense of becoming too generic. 

When appropriately designed, inspection checklists can be done either on paper or digitally, using mobile devices and cloud-based software. An advantage of a digital checklist is its many functionalities. The Checker Software, for instance, will analyze the data, compile reports, highlight trends, identify long-term inconsistencies, and provide alerts or notifications, among many other things. It will ensure that nothing goes unnoticed or slips through the cracks. 

All of these benefits ultimately help a company’s bottom line while supporting the well-being of personnel. A good inspection checklist will be able to:

  • Minimize project delays and unproductivity
  • Lower maintenance costs
  • Reduce recurring problems
  • Prevent the use of unsafe assets, thus reducing employee injury
  • Discourage the improper or abusive use of assets
  • Help determine ideal maintenance schedules
  • Maximize scheduling productivity
  • Budget for downtime
  • Better evaluate asset quality. 

Important Aspects of the Checklist Design

It's important to keep in mind that poorly designed inspection checklists will not be taken seriously by staff members. Lists that aren't detailed enough or are not asset-specific are generally viewed as additional paperwork that needs to be done solely for the sake of regulation.  

What's more, these inferior inspection checklists will not provide many of the benefits mentioned above. So, when creating a sound inspection checklist, you should make sure to include the following aspects:

  • It should include a checkbox for every part of the asset that is essential for its safe and productive use.
  • The inspection checklist also needs to clearly state which exact problems will make that asset inoperable, as well as what issues need to be red-flagged for maintenance.
  • Checkboxes need to be listed in a logical and intuitive order, thus helping to streamline the inspection process. Listing them in alphabetical order, for instance, will force operators to waste precious time going back and forth searching for the right box to check. 
  • The overall design of the inspection checklist needs to be simple, easy to read, and easy to understand.

Takeaway

With the Checker Software, you can create your checklist format in accordance with your assets and needs. You will also have access to the many added benefits a digital inspection tool can provide. For more information, visit our website or contact us directly.

Topics: inspection software, inspection best practices, inspection management, inspection basics, inspection checklists, audit software

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

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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!

Takeaway 

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

A Book For Every Thing

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

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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

Six Best Practices for Auditing and Inspecting

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 @ 02:00 PM

Regardless of your organization’s size or the industry you’re in, you can maximize the value of your audits and inspections by following these best practices.

  1. Establish firm audit/inspection policies and procedures in writing. Personnel should have no question about what needs to be inspected, how frequently inspections should be conducted, or how those inspections should be conducted. Verbal guidance is great (and necessary), but written guidelines provide consistency, clarity, and accountability. Developing written policies and procedures also forces an organization to examine its audit/inspection processes, asking important questions such as “Are we inspecting everything we need to?” and “When we inspect, are we doing a thorough-enough inspection to achieve our goals?”
  1. Adequately train all personnel. Once you’ve developed written policies and procedures, personnel have to learn them. This requires more than simply handing out a printout or posting Effective audit and inspection programs require robust training.the guidelines on a bulletin board. To make sure your policies and procedures are well-understood and always top of mind, you need a robust training program that ingrains them in the minds of personnel before they begin doing a job that requires auditing or inspecting.
  1. Use checklists to ensure audits and inspections are done correctly. Even with excellent training, personnel need a checklist of all items to check for whatever is being inspected, whether it be equipment, facilities, worksites, or processes. Properly structured checklists, such as The Checker, list items in the logical order they will be inspected, allowing personnel to simply go through the checklist without having to remember each item. Checklists also hold personnel and organizations accountable by documenting what they’ve inspected—documentation that also can be used to demonstrate regulatory compliance.
  1. Constantly reinforce the policies and procedures. Initial training isn’t enough. People have a tendency to forget, become complacent, or begin taking “shortcuts.” This tendency is particularly strong in organizations that don’t make it clear, on an ongoing basis, how important it is to do audits and inspections as prescribed by your policies and procedures. You can provide this reinforcement of the initial training with periodic retraining. It’s also vital to provide meaningful rewards for personnel who follow the policies and procedures, as well as to enforce negative consequences when the guidelines aren’t followed.
  1. “Audit the auditors.” In organizations that have best-of-class audit/inspection programs, there are checks at all organizational levels to ensure that policies and procedures are being followed. A way to think of this is that the audit/inspection program itself needs to be inspected on a continual basis. Everyone, at all levels, should be answerable to someone else.
  1. Proactively use audit/inspection results to make better business decisions. Audits and inspections should be about more than compliance to internal standards and external regulations. To truly maximize the value of audits and inspections, you can’t waste the valuable data generated by the results. This data can be used in numerous ways, such as helping to develop preventive maintenance schedules, predicting downtime, and guiding procurement decisions. Inspection software (e.g., The Checker Software) can be used to help aggregate and make sense of this data.

 

Takeaway

You can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your audits and inspections by developing firm policies and procedures, training and retraining personnel, using checklists, holding everyone accountable, and using results to make better business decisions.

Topics: inspection checklists, inspection basics, inspection best practices, safety audits

Workplace Inspections Fulfill Employers’ Responsibility to Employees

Posted by Terry Penney on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 @ 02:19 PM

Workplace audits and inspections are essential in protecting the health and safety of employees.For today's blog, we weclome guest blogger Terry Penney, a safety professional, presenter, motivational speaker, and safety program developer.

Even inspecting equipment is considered working on it.

A court has ruled that a maintenance electrician had “worked on” a stuck shipping door when he simply “inspected” it, even though he had not actually performed maintenance on it.  He was injured when the door fell on him.  The employer was found guilty of failing to ensure that the door was “blocked” before employees worked on it.

The maintenance employee testified that he “took a look at the controller [for the door] just to make sure, looked in to make sure that the P-L-C was powered up.” He agreed that he was “merely inspecting, trying to determine what the problem was.”

The trial justice found that “some level of work” took place and that the employer was therefore guilty of the offence of failing to ensure that the shipping door was blocked before it was “adjusted, repaired, or [had] work performed on it”—contrary to the Industrial Establishments regulation under the United States’ Occupational Health and Safety Act.

An appeal judge agreed and upheld the conviction. He stated that the Act doesn’t require that a “minimum or threshold amount of work be performed” before the Act’s requirements are triggered.  The maintenance employee’s checks of the electrical system for the door amounted to “some work” and therefore the obligation to “block” the door had been triggered.

This case illustrates that workplace inspections aren’t just about a piece of paper, or a form, or finding errors on sites. Workplace inspections are ultimately about employers having a duty to protect the health and safety of any person in their employ or to whom they provide access to the workplaces they are responsible for.

What’s Involved in Workplace Inspections

Whether formal or informal, workplace inspections are regular examinations of workplaces to recognize and evaluate existing and potential hazards and recommend corrective actions. The process involves carefully examining work stations on a regular basis with a view to:

  • identifying and recording actual and potential hazards posed by buildings, equipment, the environment, processes, practices, etc.
  • recording any hazards requiring immediate attention.
  • determining whether existing hazard controls are adequate and operational.
  • recommending corrective action where appropriate.

A workplace inspection program includes several types of inspections:

  • Spot inspections are carried out on occasion to meet a range of responsibilities with respect to workplace health and safety. They focus on a specific hazard associated with a specific work station or work area (e.g., noise made by a shredder, operation of a pump, pressure from a boiler, exposure to a solvent).
  • Pre-operation inspections of special equipment and processes are often required before starting the inspection itself, such as equipment checks before working under water or entering a closed area.
  • Critical parts inspections are regular inspections of the critical parts of a machine, piece of equipment, or system that have a high potential for serious accidents. These inspections are often part of a preventive maintenance program or hazard control program. Inspection checklists can be used for forklifts, tractor semi-trailers, and aircraft, for example.
  • New equipment inspections involve a series of specific tests and checks that are carried out before starting up any new piece of equipment. For example, prior to starting to operate a recently acquired air compressor, the manufacturer or installer checks to ensure that all the parts are in the right place and are working properly.
  • Routine inspections are inspections carried out on a regular basis in a given work area. They cover all working conditions, including work hazards, processes, and practices.

As with any other aspect of a prevention program, it’s important for senior management to demonstrate its commitment to workplace inspections and the goals they are intended to achieve.

How to Develop an Effective Workplace Inspection Program

There are four fundamental aspects of a good workplace inspection program:

  • planning the actions to be taken.
  • physical inspection of premises.
  • writing an inspection report.
  • following up on recommendations.

In your planning, develop specific procedures identifying:

  • the frequency of inspections.
  • the workplaces requiring inspection.
  • responsibility for conducting inspections, reviewing recommendations, and implementing corrective measures.
  • the qualifications of the individuals who will be carrying out the inspections; these people should have the necessary experience, training, and knowledge of the work stations and operations involved.

To determine how often workplace inspections need to be conducted—daily, weekly, monthly, annually, etc.—you need to determine what is necessary to ensure the recognition, evaluation, and control of workplace hazards. Reviewing the following may assist in that determination:

  • the industry involved.
  • the kinds of work carried out.
  • the risks and hazards involved in the work and in the environment, including ergonomic risks.
  • the number of different work areas.
  • the number of workers in each work area.
  • the hours of operation.
  • the pace of the work.
  • other factors that are reasonable to include.

You should develop a written workplace inspection policy. The form and content of this policy can vary according to your business's requirements, but the following are all points to be considered:

  • senior management's commitment to inspections and recognition of their importance.
  • the role of inspections in carrying out the general aims of the company with respect to workplace health and safety.
  • the designation of individuals who will be responsible for ensuring the proper operation of the inspection system.
  • measures required on the part of both the employer and employees to abide by the spirit and intent of the policy.

In conducting inspections, a basic principle should always be considered: Although they may need to ask questions, members of the inspection team should not unnecessarily interrupt the work of employees or in any way seek to assign blame for hazards. While it’s important to draw people's attention to any hazard that may exist, less important hazards can await the final report. There are "risk tables" that can be used to that end (e.g., CSA Z796-98).

After workplace inspections are conducted, the information obtained should be comprehensively analyzed to determine which areas are in need of general corrective measures and to identify trends as part of the effectiveness auditing program.

In particular, diligent analysis of inspection reports has the potential to:

  • identify the need for training in certain areas.
  • explain why certain types of accidents occur in certain areas.
  • establish an order of priority for corrective action.
  • help to establish healthy work methods or improve existing methods.
  • identify areas, equipment, tasks, etc. for which a more in-depth risk analysis would be helpful.

Inspection information requirements include:

  • basic layout plans showing equipment and materials used.
  • process flow.
  • information on chemicals.
  • storage areas.
  • workforce size, shifts, and supervision.
  • workplace rules and regulations.
  • job procedures and safe work practices.
  • manufacturers’ specifications.
  • personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • engineering controls.
  • emergency procedures (fire, first aid, and rescue).
  • accident and investigation reports.
  • worker complaint reports regarding particular hazards in the workplace.
  • recommendations of the Joint Health and Safety Committee.
  • previous inspections.
  • maintenance reports, procedures, and schedules.
  • regulator inspection reports or other external audits (e.g., insurance, corporate, specialist).
  • monitoring reports (levels of chemicals, physical, or biological hazards).
  • reports of unusual operating conditions.
  • names of inspection team members and any technical experts.

 

IImage courtesy of ESA , Creative Commons.

Topics: why inspect?, workplace safety, inspection basics, inspection best practices

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

Protect Against Fire Risk with Inspection Checklists

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Thu, Feb 05, 2015 @ 02:00 PM

Inspection checklists play a vital role in workplace safety, but many people tend to think of them as only for inspecting commercial equipment and vehicles.

In actuality, you can use inspection checklists in many ways to create a safer work environment. Inspection checklists are fundamental components of checking processes and facilities as much as they are for inspecting individual vehicles or pieces of equipment.

building_burns_to_groundAn example is using a checklist to keep your business facilities as protected as possible against fire and its costly consequences. Beyond the obvious—ensuring fire protection systems are in place and operational—it’s important to keep facilities clean of debris and clutter. Not only does a messy workplace increase the amount of combustible material in the facility, it could potentially impede people from getting out of the building in case of a fire.

There are many things to check, and a checklist allows personnel to move through the items much quicker, without the danger of forgetting a critical item.

The items to be checked will of course vary from business to business and industry to industry. However, there are some common basic items that should be on every checklist for fire safety:

  • Are smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinkler systems, and other fire-protection equipment in working order?
  • Are hazardous and combustible materials properly sealed and stored?
  • If hazardous and combustible materials are in the building, is the building adequately ventilated?
  • Has all combustible waste (e.g., wood, oily rags, paper) been removed from the building?
  • Are walkways free of trash, debris, equipment, products, etc.?
  • Are floors clean, without a build-up of trash such as waste paper?
  • Are all surfaces, including ceilings and hidden spaces, dust-free?
  • Is waste stored outside the building kept in non-combustible containers located in a designated area a reasonable distance from buildings?
  • Are there weeds or long grass that need to be removed from around combustible materials stored on the exterior grounds?

These items are a start, but to be effective, your checklist needs to include every exact item that needs to be checked, presented in the logical order that they would be checked. That means your checklist needs to be customized expressly for your facility. In particular, operations involving combustible and hazardous materials will need clear, operation-specific detail. 

That’s where The Checker can help. Our cloud-based software for use on mobile devices is easily customizable to include precisely the specific items for your specific facility.

But regardless of whether you use our solution to make the process more efficient and effective, you should do something! Fire and its consequences can be devastating to businesses—particularly small businesses—and the simple process of checking critical items can significantly reduce the risk.

Takeaway

You can use inspection checklists to ensure that personnel are taking all necessary steps to minimize the risk of fire at your facilities.

 

Image courtesty of Ben Schumin, Creative Commons.

Topics: safety management, inspection checklists, inspection basics

You Have to Enforce Inspection Policies for Them to Succeed

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Fri, Jan 30, 2015 @ 02:30 PM

We constantly tout the value of inspections in business, but we always stress that no inspection program will be effective without sufficient buy-in from personnel.

You can put the right processes in place, such as using The Checker inspection checklists. However, if the people who need to be safe don’t follow those processes, your inspection initiatives won’t achieve their goals.

We’ve seen repeatedly that buy-in can be achieved through training and education—not only about how to properly conduct inspections but also concerning the critical role inspections play in safety. When personnel know how to do inspections quickly and efficiently—and they understand how inspections protect them personally—they naturally come to think of them as an important use of their time.

Inspection policies must be enforced for inspection programs to succeed.The unfortunate reality, however, is that even with your best efforts to get buy-in, some personnel will stubbornly resist paying attention to your messages, and they won't do any work they think they can get away with not doing. The training and education you provide will go in one ear and out the other, and they’ll prefer to idle away their time rather than do inspections.

Consequences That Get Attention

We’re not talking about all, or even most, of your personnel. Particularly if you’ve done a good job of hiring, the ones who don’t appreciate the importance of inspections or are simply lazy may just be a few bad apples. But unless your company is a rare exception, you will have some personnel who aren’t going to do inspections unless you make doing them an absolute requirement.

This means that—as much as you want your personnel to diligently follow inspection policies for the right reasons—your inspection program has to include consequences for not doing them.

The exact consequences will depend on each company’s situation. What they must have in common to be effective is that they truly matter to personnel. Calling inspection scofflaws out—by posting a list of people who have failed to do their required inspections, for example—probably won’t have the desired effect. To get them to pay attention and do inspections as they should, you’re going to have to tie doing inspections to their wallet, their duties, or their job security.

You’ll get their attention if they know that not doing inspections properly will have negative effects on their promotions/raises or lead to them being assigned to do less-desirable work. It may even be necessary to make it a fireable offense to repeatedly fail to adhere to inspection policies. 

If that seems like an overreaction, remind yourself of the devastating consequences of workplace injuries in terms of business costs, fines, and liability exposure. If someone won’t get on board with the inspection program, then employing them to do a job in which safety inspections are necessary is like playing Russian roulette.

Pencil Whipping Not Allowed

It’s essential to realize that filling out The Checker or any other inspection form is not proof that personnel are doing inspections properly. Whether inspections are being done on paper or mobile devices, they can be “pencil whipped,” which occurs when someone is just checking boxes on the form without really inspecting the items. This dereliction cannot be tolerated, and must have consequences just as if they had not filled out the form at all.

Being able to detect pencil whipping is one of the many benefits of a systematic inspection program like The Checker. With such a program, someone who is pencil-whipping inspections will inevitably be found out. Systematic ways in which you can discourage this behavior include built-in double-checks (e.g., inspections required before and after equipment use) and spot checks of how well inspections have been done immediately after they’re completed.

Takeaway

In an ideal world, all personnel would gladly adhere to inspection policies because they understand how inspections protect their own skins while also benefiting the company. Unfortunately, the reality is that strong inspection programs must include clear consequences for not following mandated inspection processes.

Topics: inspection basics, inspection management, inspection best practices

The Problem With Manufacturer and DIY Equipment Inspection Checklists

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 @ 08:00 AM

Do you have a hodgepodge of equipment inspection checklists in your company?

You’re not alone if you do. It’s common in many industries for businesses to have different inspection checklists for virtually every type of commercial equipment they use.

Why does this happen? Primary because of two reasons:

  • Manufacturer checklists. Many manufacturers supply inspection checklists for purchasers and lessors of their equipment.
  • Do-It-Yourself checklists. Lacking a manufacturer checklist (or at least a satisfactory one), it’s not difficult at all to create a DIY checklist. All you really need to do is write out the items to check for a particular piece of equipment and then keep making copies (or have copies printed) to use for all similar types of equipment.

A major drawback of both types of checklists is that you naturally end up with a whole bunch of checklist formats floating around.

You Only Need One Format

A danger of DIY checklists is that they won’t include all the items that need to be checked to best ensure safety and optimum operability.

DIY checklists are often poorly designed.They’re also often designed with very little thought, frequently resulting in a checklist format that’s more difficult to follow then necessary—as well as unprofessional-looking, which reflects poorly on a company’s commitment to safety.

Manufacturer checklists usually—but not always—include the necessary items to check for safety and performance. However, their checklist formats are often not designed with personnel in mind and are difficult to use.

These issues, though, are essentially irrelevant for companies that understand how equipment inspections can improve safety and lower costs. For these companies, manufacturer and DIY checklists are ruled out from the get-go because multiple checklist formats create confusion and lead to mistakes, reducing the benefit of equipment inspections.

There’s no sense in personnel having to learn new formats every time they inspect a different type of equipment. That wastes time and can be dangerous. Unfamiliarity often results in errors.

The Checker Solution

Our recommendation to any company attempting to improve equipment inspections is to use a single, standardized inspection checklist format for all your equipment inspections.

The caveat is that—while they should all have the same format—every inspection checklist must still be specific to the equipment being inspected.

You can find many vendors who provide inspection checklists that can be used across all your equipment, but they are too standardized. Their format isn’t the only thing standardized—so are the items to check. They don’t contain the necessary detail for each particular type of equipment.

Standardized equipment inspection checklists are best, as long as they're equipment-specific.Our approach at The Checker is to combine a standardized checklist format with equipment-specific checklist detail. We provide professionally designed, consistently formatted inspection checklists for hundreds of types of equipment, with all the equipment-specific detail needed to conduct truly effective inspections.

Based on our decades of experience helping businesses improve workplace safety, The Checker is easy-to-use, with all the necessary items listed in the logical order they should be checked—for each type of equipment. This speeds the inspection process, while the standardized format means no one has to learn new formats, which saves time and avoids mistakes.

Takeaway

Equipment inspection checklists with a standardized format are preferable to a mish-mash of manufacturer and DIY formats. However, the standardization can’t come at the expense of equipment specificity. A checklist such as The Checker is needed.

Learn more about selecting the right inspection checklists by downloading “The Checker Checklist: The Value of Using Checklists,”  a checklist of what to look for in checklists!

 

Top image courtesy of Bossi, Creative Commons.

Topics: checklist design, inspection basics, inspection checklists, inspection best practices

Before You Accept It, Inspect It

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Wed, Mar 12, 2014 @ 05:06 PM

Not long ago, I visited the warehouse of a chemical manufacturer to give some safety training. They are a company that very much understands the importance of inspecting the chemicals delivered to them for processing, and they have a solid program in place to inspect every chemical drum before acceptance.

Inspection checklists can help you inspect supplier shipments for defects.Nonetheless, while I was there, they started smelling a strange chemical smell in their warehouse. Even with all their diligence, a drum had gotten through with a bad stopper. It took them a week of pulling down drums with forklifts to inspect them one by one until they found the culprit.

For this manufacturer, such an incident is just one of those things you have to chalk up to human error, rather than a process failing. They had the right procedures in place, but someone made a mistake and overlooked the bad drum.

But just imagine what companies face if they don’t have an inspection process in place for shipments! They are relying solely on their suppliers to ensure that shipments are free of defects—and that’s asking for trouble.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re dealing with hazardous chemicals or any other product, if you’re not inspecting shipments, you’re ultimately going to spend more time and money correcting problems caused by the defects than if you had taken the simple step of carefully inspecting each delivery.

The reality, however, is that many businesses don’t inspect regular shipments. The goods come in off the truck and there are a hundred other things to do at the time, so they just put the new inventory in with the old.

When faced with time pressures, it’s easy to assume that because something is coming straight from the supplier as “new” that there won’t be a problem with it.

That’s true most of the time, but the exception can prove quite costly.

Shipment inspections are a best practice for any business, and it doesn’t have to be a complex, time-consuming process. You just need to establish a simple inspection procedure that’s followed every time. Using an inspection checklist such as The Checker, inspections can be conducted quickly and efficiently.

Takeaway Point

Don’t take for granted that something coming straight from a supplier is free of defects. You need to inspect all shipments—preventing defects from causing problems down the road and keeping your suppliers on their toes.

 

Image courtesy of  Damian Gadal, Creative Commons.

Topics: why inspect?, inspection basics, inspection best practices