The Checker Blog

Beyond Pass or Fail: Grading Audit and Inspection Results

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Fri, Apr 12, 2019 @ 03:46 PM

Sometimes you have to give grades when workplace safety and asset maintenance are involved.

A pass or fail scoring system can be useful in numerous situations. If all that’s needed is a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down, a pass-fail scoring system gets the job done.

But it’s not always as simple as “yes” or “no.” In certain situations, more detail is needed, and pass/fail will not suffice. If we are to look at safety, for example, basic inspections can work on a pass-fail basis. But when we move on to more-thorough investigations and audits, inspectors need the ability to determine and quantify the degree to which an asset complies with safety standards. 

By grading deficiencies with a score from 1 to 10 on audit or inspection forms, business owners and personnel will be much better suited to prioritize any issues for correction that may arise.

That’s why we included scoring capability in The Checker Software

Using The Checker Software Scoring Feature 

This scoring system doesn't have to be from 1 to 10. You can configure any scoring scale that makes the most sense for you and your assets. It’s an easy-to-use feature. Users select the right scoring system from a drop-down menu, and the system will calculate the total score for every asset and provide a percentage score. 

To further optimize the system, you can add definitions to every scoring level (e.g., excellent condition, usable but needs maintenance, needs repair before use).

You can also add comments, documents, and images to further clarify the score given (e.g., a comment that tires on a vehicle don’t need to be replaced yet but probably will next quarter, with supporting photos showing their condition).

Takeaway

The Checker Software allows you to create and edit whatever scoring systems will fit your needs best—or use the pass-fail system if that’s all that’s required. Whatever option you choose, The Checker will help you optimize the process.

Topics: inspection checklists, inspection software, risk assessments, audit software, inspection forms, audit/inspection software

The Relationship Between Compensation and Safety Adherence

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Tue, Apr 02, 2019 @ 07:15 AM

 

Finding a way to relate personnel's compliance to safety policies is an effective way to encourage workplace safety.

Safety in the workplace is an essential aspect of any organization. But in the hopes of saving money, some business owners feel tempted to not follow government safety regulations, such as those from the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or the Ontario Ministry of Labour

This approach is short-sighted at best, since compliance with these safety policies will not only help safeguard against costly accidents, injuries, and property damages, it can avoid significant fines and, in some cases, even criminal charges,

It's also important to remember that in addition to the initial costs of an accident (fines, legal fees, civil claims, etc.), a company will also have to deal with indirect costs, which are usually several times more than the direct costs and can sometimes be more than 10 times higher.

But no matter how dedicated a business owner is to complying with safety regulations, if the company’s employees aren't willing or able to follow them, all of management's efforts will be in vain. In the end, it's the employees who are at the frontlines, making them an integral part of the day-to-day application of any safety policies. 

Some employees may be oblivious of the risks they subject themselves to by not following safety protocols, while others may disregard them so they can finish their work faster. Whatever the case, any employer needs to find ways to incentivize personnel to follow safety procedures and stay in line with regulatory standards.

Compensation for Safety Adherence

Of course, one of the most efficient ways of incentivizing personnel is to include safety adherence in decisions about how much to monetarily compensate an employee. A safety-adherence compensation program can be tailored to any company's structure and way of doing things, but regardless of the company’s unique needs,  personnel should be rewarded for good behaviour as well as a smooth and streamlined execution of specific safety protocols.  

The Checker Software is the perfect tool to implement such a program. It has numerous features, including the tracking and management of safety activities. If your employees are using The Checker Software during their daily safety inspections, the software will generate reports, telling you about their actions and how well they adhered to safety policies and procedures. 

The software allows for personal reminders, alerts, and notifications—ensuring that every safety check is carried out at the right time. 

Nothing will slip through the cracks or go unnoticed, allowing you to implement your safety-adherence compensation program to great effect. In addition, The Checker Software will enable personnel to detect and report potential risk hazards. You can incentivize them to do so, making them go one step beyond and become proactive in increasing workplace safety.

Takeaway

Companies have many reasons—and ways—to encourage employee compliance with safety policies and procedures that adhere to regulatory standards. Including safety compliance in compensation decisions is one of the best methods for this encouragement. The Checker Software enables management to easily track this compliance.

For more information about The Checker Pro, please visit our website or email us at info@thechecker.net.

 

Topics: safety management, OSHA, inspection management, inspections and profitability, risk assessments, safety audits, audit software, audit/inspection software

Using Software for Audits and Inspections: It's Not Rocket Science

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Wed, Jan 24, 2018 @ 08:00 AM

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Companies that aren’t using software for audits and inspections often cite the following concerns when justifying why they’re still using paper forms: 

  • Software will be difficult and time-consuming to set up 
  • Software will be challenging for personnel to learn how to use 
  • Software will be met with resistance from older personnel who aren’t computer-savvy. 

While we understand that the uncertainty of change can be worrisome, these concerns are not legitimate reasons to put off a move to software, which is the inevitable future of audits and inspections. With The Checker Software, each of these worries is unfounded. 

Easy to Get Started 

The Checker Software is a cloud-based, software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, and it requires no IT expertise to begin using it. There’s no loading and technical configuration of software required. There’s no complex integration with existing internal systems. You simply create an account on the web, log in, and begin using the software’s many features—on any device connected to the internet (PC, tablet, or phone). 

Easy to Use 

Put simply, if you can press buttons, you can use The Checker Software. Its user interfaces, dashboards, and communication and reporting tools are so intuitive that they’re self-explanatory. The software guides users to such a degree that there’s virtually no learning curve. If you can fill out a simple application online, you can use The Checker Software with no problem.  

The Checker Software is not a confusing, intricate, difficult-to-master software tool like an ERP system, in which audit and inspection functionality is buried amid many other functions. Our software’s sole purpose to make it easier and more-efficient to conduct audits and inspections. 

Easy for Non-Techies to Like 

Older workers are often stereotyped as being reluctant (or even unable) to use computer technology. But this is largely a myth. Computers are so ingrained in our society now that, as the saying goes, “my grandmother is on Facebook.” The internet, email, and texting have been around for more than 20 years—and all put the most extremely technophobic people (who probably aren’t still in the workforce) have become accustomed to using these tools.  

Even those who were initially reluctant have come to appreciate the advantages of computer technology, and they aren’t going to balk at a software tool that will make it easier for them to conduct audits and inspections. 

And think about younger workers whom you’re hiring and promoting. Even if they’re not “technical” people, per se, they’re likely to regard paper audits and inspections as antiquated and inefficient. When choosing between working for a company that uses software and one that uses paper, they’re probably going to consider the one that uses software as more desirable and modern (all else being equal). 

Takeaway 

You can gain the many benefits of software in your audit and inspections processes with The Checker Software—without the challenges of implementing and using a complex tool that requires technical aptitude. 

Topics: inspection software, risk assessments

Risky Business

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Mon, Jan 15, 2018 @ 03:12 PM

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The smaller a company, the riskier its workplace risk.

A single serious accident or fine can have a disastrous effect on a small to medium-sized business (SMB) operating on a tight budget.

If the company (or an employee) is negligent, an accident can expose an SMB to crushing civil judgments, fines, increased insurance premiums, and legal fees—possibly even criminal liability. Even without an accident, a visit from a regulatory agency (OSHA, Ontario Ministry of Labour, etc.) can result in substantial fines for failing to meet minimum requirements for mitigating workplace risk.

That’s why anyone who has an ownership stake and/or is responsible for managing workplace risk in an SMB shouldn’t be satisfied until they are confident that:

  • All personnel have been adequately trained in general workplace safety, as well as safety for their specific roles
  • Workplace safety policies and procedures are clearly defined and continually communicated to personnel
  • All workplaces are compliant with applicable safety regulations
  • Personnel have the tools necessary to keep the workplace as safe as possible
  • Workplaces and equipment are continually inspected to ensure they’re safe.

Protecting Against the Risk

The day-to-day pressures of operating an SMB can easily result in insufficient attention paid to managing that risk. The company’s leaders gnawingly worry about what could go wrong, but they feel they can’t take the time or spend the money to do anything different than what they’ve been doing. They’re just hoping for the best, playing Russian Roulette.

A failure to act is often due to uncertainty about how to begin. Do we need to better train our personnel? Should we strengthen our safety policies and procedures? Do we need to have stronger enforcement of inspections? Do we need to inspect more things?

The answer to all these questions could be “yes,” and that could be overwhelming. A company’s leadership might not know where to start.

We suggest considering audit/inspection software such as The Checker Software, which has a multitude of features designed specifically to improve audit and inspection processes, thereby mitigating workplace risk. In addition to enabling more-accurate audits and inspections, this software can be used to teach, communicate, and enforce policies and procedures. And its reporting features can provide company leaders with the information they need to be confident in their business’s management of workplace risk.

Whatever you do, do something. Make a decision about how to reduce workplace risk, and start doing it.

The Bottom Line

Workplace risk is such a major threat to SMBs that it’s bad business not to make it a top priority, and owners and executives who are worried about their business’s workplace risk shouldn’t delay in addressing the issue.

Topics: inspection software, risk assessments

Ensuring Health and Safety in Your Business: It’s Your Ass on the Line

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 @ 12:51 PM

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When you’re the owner of a small to medium-sized business (SMB), workplace health and safety is extremely personal.

Even if your SMB is incorporated, a work-related fatality, serious injury, or major illness due to negligence can:

  • jeopardize the business’s finances due to regulatory fines, liability judgement, higher insurance costs, and operational disruptions
  • expose you (not just the business) to civil lawsuits lead to criminal charges against you if laws were broken
  • fill you with personal guilt for not protecting the people hurt.

And even without an accident or health issue, non-compliance with relevant regulations can result in fines that are hard for an SMB and its owners to absorb.

With so much on the line (your business, your personal finances, your employees’ well-being), it’s easy to see why workplace risk is a constant worry of so many SMB owners. If you’re not worried, you should be.

But worry doesn’t have to mean losing sleep if you turn that worry into a proactive approach to workplace health and safety. Worry is good if it leads to positive action. It’s only bad when it festers and you do nothing to address its causes.

Without in any way discounting the suffering that lax workplace health and safety programs can cause for your personnel, if you own an SMB, ensuring health and safety is a matter of preventing your own suffering.

There are many elements to a solid health and safety program, such as training of new personnel, recurring re-training, incentives to work safely, and consequences for being unsafe. However, no measures will be adequate without regular inspections of facilities, work-sites, and equipment. Even if your personnel are doing everything right, a failure to detect a problem that could have been discovered with an inspection can lead to a disastrous problem.

That’s why we strongly recommend a formalized, strongly enforced inspection program to ease the worry about what could go wrong. Taking inspections very seriously leads to peace of mind. For example, using The Checker inspection checklist books or The Checker Software, you can be assured that everything that should be inspected is being thoroughly and properly inspected when it should be—and that’s comforting knowledge to have.

Your business’s future is at stake. Don’t gamble with it. Use all the resources available to prevent a health and safety issue from dealing you a losing hand.

Takeaway
The pressure to ensure workplace health and safety is particularly intense for SMB owners, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Utilizing tools such as The Checker, owners can rest easy knowing they’ve minimized the risk of a catastrophic accident or employee health incident.

Topics: inspection software, risk assessments

The Easiest Way to Score Items in an Audit

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Tue, May 30, 2017 @ 06:47 AM

Shuffleboard_scoring_area.jpgWith basic inspections, a simple pass/fail determination by the inspector is all that’s necessary.

But with audits, more detail is typically needed. An auditor often needs to be able to quantify the degree to which an item is out of compliance with internal or external standards. This quantification helps greatly when prioritizing the correction of deficiencies.

That’s why we include a scoring capability in The Checker Software. Using this feature, each item in an audit doesn’t just pass or fail; it is assigned a number of points on a scale you determine. And you are completely in control of which items to include.

This capability enables you to use the software for any type of audit you need to conduct (facility audits, hazard assessments, safety committee reviews, etc.). You gain the efficiencies of software without sacrificing any detail.

How It Works

One of the plusses of our scoring feature is that it’s so easy to use. It’s not a cumbersome process involving lots of manual typing and clicking between screens.

The set-up is simple. Using our Administration Module, you can easily create the scoring scale that make sense for each item you’re auditing. Then when users are auditing, all they must do is select the appropriate score from a drop-down menu.

The software shows you the subtotal for each item and calculates the total score and percentage score. No one has to manually enter numbers or use a calculator.

To help users decide the appropriate score, you can add in definitions of each scoring level, which users will see in the drop-down menu when they are making their selection. (Even in a pass/fail situation, you can use this feature to require users to select a deficiency level, such as the amount of risk a hazard poses.) And users always have the option to add in comments, or even attach photos or documents, to clarify why they gave the score they did.

Another advantage is that if you develop a scoring system that you discover doesn’t make sense, you can promptly make necessary adjustments, without the time and expense of creating new paper forms (if you’re using paper for your audits) or being forced to get IT involved (if you’re using complex software such as Enterprise Application Software that isn’t specifically designed to make audits easier). For example, if you set a low score as a zero, but you realize the condition correlated with that score isn’t really as bad as it gets, you can make an adjustment in no time at all, avoiding having to use negative numbers for conditions worse than your original zero.

The value of our scoring feature doesn’t end when audits are conducted and corrective actions taken. The more-detailed data provided by scoring compared to pass/fail results in better information when making important business decisions such as determining the frequency of preventative maintenance or deciding which operational processes need to be improved. Because the data is instantly archived and you can create custom automatic reports, you can almost effortlessly gain insight into areas of concern.

Takeaway

The capability to score items—instead of just passing or failing them—is essential to get the most value out of audits. The Checker Software’s scoring capability increases efficiency (i.e., saves money) by making the scoring process easier and more effective for management and users in the field.

Topics: risk assessments, audit software

How Employer Cash Flow Impacts Workplace Safety - Insurance Journal

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 @ 11:24 AM

Interesting study on how the Financial condition of a Company affects Workplace Safety 

More than 3.5 million workplace injuries and illnesses occur each year in the United States, costing an estimated $250 billion annually.

A new study from The University of Texas at Dallas examined how financing constraints impact workplace safety and the implications for firm value and employee welfare. Dr. Malcolm Wardlaw, assistant professor of finance and managerial economics in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, recently published his findings in the Journal of Finance.

“A huge part of the labor force has significant exposure to injury risk,” Wardlaw said. “For these workers, getting injured can radically impact their overall welfare. Moreover, the costs of these injuries are borne by both the employees and the companies they work for.”

He noted that while many people may not think about the issue on a day-to-day basis, blue-collar jobs are everywhere, including in warehouse management, shipping and transportation, resource management, construction and small-scale manufacturing.

Using injury data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses, the researchers examined the sensitivity of workplace injury rates to a firm’s available financial resources.

The study found that:

 

  • Injury rates increase after debt increases and increase with negative cash flow shocks.
  • Injury rates decrease with positive cash flow shocks.
  • Firm value decreases substantially with an increase in injury rates.

 

“When you’re having issues in cash flow, you often end up servicing the debt at the expense of softer claims that are more difficult to value or have values that are realized over the long term,” Wardlaw said. “There are costs associated with workplace injuries — it’s harder to find and retain employees, you’re more subject to lawsuits and injuries have a long-term effect on productivity — but on a quarter-to-quarter basis, those debts have to be paid.”

Wardlaw said this paper is one of the first to recognize that the financial condition of a firm affects employees’ well-being, which could have implications for policymakers.

“When you’re thinking about OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] inspections and thinking about issues you should keep your eye on, this is certainly one of the dimensions to consider: What is the financial condition of this firm?” Wardlaw said.

“It’s also worth thinking about how financing impacts these kinds of hidden investments. In recent years, there has been a broad recognition that investments in safety are important for the employees and the shareholders. Finding the best way to finance that investment is not always easy.”

Firms invest resources in a number of different activities that reduce the risk of on-the-job injury, including maintaining equipment, replacing old parts and machines, buying equipment with better safety features and automating dangerous tasks, Wardlaw said. Firms also expend resources on less tangible activities that affect safety, such as training and supervision.

Dr. Jonathan B. Cohn, associate professor of finance at The University of Texas at Austin, is co-author of the paper. The researchers are working on a related study regarding private equity buyouts and injury rates.

Source: University of Texas at Dallas

 

Topics: safety management, legal compliance, risk assessments

Five Best Practices for Workplace Risk Assessments

Posted by Shawn Macpherson on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

An adage that’s indisputably good sense is to “look before you leap.” Everyone knows it’s risky to jump when you can’t see how you’re going to land.

Risk assessments are "looking before you leap" to reduce workplace safety risk.That logic certainly applies to workplace safety. If companies don’t conduct risk assessments for projects, sites, facilities, etc., they’re exposing personnel to unknown hazards that substantially raise risk for the personnel and the company.

They’re looking before they leap.

We’ve been advising companies about safety since the 1980s, and we’ve found that those businesses that succeed at reducing workplace safety risk do “look,” by following these five risk-assessment best practices.

1. Conducting voluntary risk assessments.

I’m always shocked at how many organizations fail to do any risk assessments that aren’t mandated by law or regulation. A flawed attitude stubbornly persists: that risk assessments are bureaucratic paperwork that slows down production. Smart companies realize that safety risks are business risks, and so they’re diligent about conducting risk assessments—to comply, but also to protect employees and minimize safety-related costs.

2. Using well-designed risk-assessment forms.

Risk assessments obviously require some list of items to assess. If this list is laid out in a clear, logically designed assessment form that’s easy to follow, assessments will not only be more thorough and less prone to human error, they can be completed more quickly.

3. Identifying workplace-specific hazards.

To be effective, risk assessments must be specific to whatever’s being assessed. If you’re conducting a risk assessment for a particular site, a generic list of safety issues to inspect isn’t going to be sufficient. Safety lies in the details.

One of the advantages of our Checker Software is that we can easily customize risk assessment forms. We use our safety and industry experience to help companies identify all the workplace-specific hazards that should be checked.

4. Involving personnel.

Personnel can provide extremely valuable insight into workplace hazards; after all, they’re the ones in danger. Their perspective makes it possible to create better workplace-specific assessment forms. Seeking their input also avoids a “top-down” approach to safety; when personnel feel like they’re being listened to and can truly affect workplace safety, they’ll be much quicker to adopt a safety-first attitude than if they perceive safety measures as a burdensome mandate.

5. Heeding the risk assessment rather than putting it on a shelf.

The best risk assessment in the world isn’t worth anything if sufficient safety measures aren’t implemented to address the hazards identified in the assessment. The assessment is the “look,” but you still have to “leap” as safely as possible.

Takeaway

Companies can better protect personnel and reduce business risk by emphasizing workplace risk assessments, using assessment forms customized for workplace-specific hazards, seeking employee participation, and following up with adequate safety measures to alleviate the hazards.

For more information on customizing The Checker Software risk assessment forms, call 905.825.0172 or 800.291.4719, or email info@thechecker.net.

 

Image courtesy of epSos.de, Creative Commons.

Topics: safety management, workplace safety, risk assessments