Are your inspections as effective as they could be? Do they uncover all potential issues — even those that aren’t immediately obvious? Are corrective actions followed through to closure? And, do your efforts result in an improvement in safety and environmental performance over time?
All of these are important, and if you depend on your inspections to find and fix hazardous conditions, then it’s critical to know the current best practices. Here are six tips to make your inspections more effective:
1. Standardize your inspection process
One of the biggest mistakes companies make when it comes to inspections is not having a standardized process.
Imagine if an airline allowed a pilot to operate an airliner without a checklist, just relying on their own experience to make sure nothing gets missed. In the same way, when each inspector does things differently, important things can get overlooked.
Establishing a standardized inspection process and following it every time will result in higher-quality data and better results. And, over time, inspectors will become more efficient — saving your company time and money.
2. Eliminate manual data entry
Manual data entry inevitably leads to errors. This can happen due to illegible writing on forms, misinterpreting comments, or even making a simple typographical mistake. No matter the cause, companies run the risk of making poor decisions when inspection data is inaccurate due to human error.
The best way to avoid this problem is to eliminate the need to rekey most, if not all, data from paper forms in the first place. Using web-based inspection forms means that data can be entered directly into the system at the time of inspection. Inspectors will appreciate the flexibility of only having to fill out the questions that are relevant to them — something that’s not possible with paper forms. Not only that, but think of the time savings for your team back at the office! With fewer forms to key in, they’ll be free to focus on the tasks that matter.
3. Leverage mobile assessment apps
Web-based inspections save you from the frustration of paper forms that are crumpled, coffee-stained, lost, or not turned in — but the benefits don’t stop there.
Many companies have already discovered that using mobile apps to conduct inspections results in more completeness and richer data.
With paper forms, it’s easy to forget or ignore a question. Mobile apps, on the other hand, guide inspectors through the process to ensure forms are filled out completely. Even if the form is long or they get interrupted, they can easily pick up where they left off without missing anything.
Inspectors can also take photos, record videos and audio, and sync these directly between their phone and the main office. There’s no need to waste time uploading and sending them in later. These files, along with the findings generated from the inspection, will go directly to the centralized for simplified analysis and reporting. The end result is more efficient and effective inspections.
4. Determine the optimal inspection frequency
How often should inspections be completed? The answer is, of course, it depends.
Every company has different factors that will affect inspection frequency. There isn’t one clear cut answer, so you’ll have to use your discretion to determine a schedule that maximizes your resources but ensures no issues get overlooked.
Look at the average number of findings from past assessments (for Perillon users, this information is available in your ASSESSMENTrak dashboards). If inspections regularly turn up issues, adding follow-up inspections or inspecting more often is generally a good idea. On the flip side, if issues are rarely discovered, you may be able to safely consider cutting back on the frequency of inspections.
Other factors that can impact the frequency of inspections are the type of work and hazards, the size of operations, new hazards or activities, and changes in regulations, processes, or equipment — to name a few.
5. Assign inspections at the facility level
Not every inspection will need to be completed by an EHS team member or high-level supervisor. In fact, it’s not always beneficial to have inspections completed by someone from a separate department.
Some inspections, such as a quality check or maintenance inspection, are most effective when completed by someone with direct knowledge of the equipment, process, or work procedures involved. Expanding employee involvement in the inspection process—something that can be done easily with mobile apps—yields valuable insight that might have otherwise been missed.
Assigning inspections at the facility level can also reduce administrative and travel time significantly. This often translates to thousands of dollars in savings on travel-related expenses. And, should travel be restricted for some reason, inspections can still go on uninterrupted.
6. Automate corrective actions
A lack of follow-through is a common reason inspections aren’t as effective as they could be. Failing to address problems found during an inspection can increase your chances of an accident or enforcement action.
As such, it’s important to make sure you’re completing corrective actions every single time. One way to do that is by automating the corrective action process, which can be accomplished easily with the use of inspection software.
Let’s say an inspector discovers that several of your safety data sheets (SDSs) are out of date. A corrective action to update these SDSs can be assigned during the inspection. Or, this could be triggered automatically based on configurable rules set in the system. In any case, the appropriate person will be notified that action is required. And, should the corrective action not be completed by the date set, it will be escalated to a supervisor to ensure accountability.
By following these six best practices, you’ll be in a better position to make your inspections efficient and effective. Next, learn how to standardize your inspection process using Perillon.