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Better safety data through digitized inspections

December 1, 2021

Can you get good inspection data from old inspection collection methods? Probably not. The problems with using a paper-based system instead of digitized inspections to collect safety data are many and far-reaching. Companies that rely on paper checklists to demonstrate OSHA compliance risk running into regulatory trouble.

Paper forms lack controls, leading to inconsistent, incorrect, or incomplete entries, undermining data reliability and obscuring potential safety hazards. Furthermore, adapting paper checklists to changing work conditions is challenging. In addition, their inability to incorporate essential multimedia assets, like maps or visuals, diminishes inspection accuracy. Without strict management, paper checklists suffer from versioning issues, creating discrepancies in reporting criteria for the same inspections. Transitioning to spreadsheets might seem beneficial, yet they also encounter collection and reliability issues.

Relying on outdated collection methods, whether paper or spreadsheet, generates inconsistent and unreliable data. This situation becomes critical when proving the rigor of safety programs to regulatory bodies like OSHA. The stakes are high. Companies using paper checklists risk jeopardizing data integrity. They also face potential fines, reputation damage, and financial losses. Most crucially, they risk endangering the safety of their employees.

A wide range of digital technologies is available to tackle the challenges faced by industries. These technologies are designed to address the complexities, competition, and regulations they encounter. These technologies offer robust solutions for improving data collection, analysis, and reporting, thereby enhancing overall operational efficiency and compliance. As we’ll see, digitized inspections place better safety data at your fingertips so that your compliance is never in doubt.

Better safety data with digitization 

Digitization not only solves the many  problems with paper while producing more consistent and reliable safety data, it also helps companies to work smarter and more efficiently to streamline OSHA compliance procedures. The benefits of digitization include:

Ability to customize

OSHA writes its guidelines very broadly, and employees may have difficulty applying the guidelines to your day-to-day operations. Digital platforms let you create safety and inspection checklists specifically tailored to your unique work environment, so inspections are easy for anyone to perform and always collect the data you need.

Real-time updates and adaptability

Easy to modify on the fly, digital checklists adapt to changing scenarios, equipment, personnel, worksites, and even new OSHA guidelines. And with near-real-time updates and shared access across distributed teams, everyone knows what data needs to be collected and how.

Ease of versioning

Digitization solves all of your versioning issues. When your whole team works from the same cloud-based checklist, there is only one record of choice in circulation, updated and shared in near-real time.

Built-in training and onboarding

Digital apps enhance training by providing inexperienced workers with tightly organized sets of descriptions and reference materials, including visuals, at the point of use. Safety managers can also update apps to reflect changes in OSHA regulations so that every worker is up to speed on best practices.

Integration of multimedia

Digital checklists can incorporate a variety of visual media, such as photos or videos, to be shared with the managing supervisor who is not on site, allowing for the oversight of more people at more locations with precision and efficiency.  In addition, the collected  visual media then becomes part of the documentary record of the inspection.

Location awareness

Enrich your safety data with crucial location-aware information, including maps, seamlessly-integrated GIS, and geotagged records.

Superior ease-of-use

By building digital checklists without the need for code, safety managers can quickly tailor them to specific or changing conditions. And for employees, expandable dropdown menus and easy-to-follow decision trees clarify and guide safety inspections so that reliable data is consistently collected.

Data-driven insights

Accurate, timely data widens your visibility to see emergent patterns, which helps to adjust workflows to be OSHA-compliant and prevent future safety incidents. And if incidents should occur, root causes can be quickly identified and remediated.

Promotion of a safety culture

If your entire workforce operates from the same digitized inspection checklists and always knows how to perform their work safely, everyone’s job becomes easier and safer.  Your clear commitment to worker safety lays the groundwork for a robust, company-wide safety culture that’s always prepared for OSHA scrutiny.

Streamlined operations

Custom digital checklists can detail exact steps and hide extraneous fields to streamline inspections. Instant access and sharing also means that no time is wasted on administrative busywork, whether conducting inspections, implementing updates, or producing reports for stakeholders.

Elimination of guesswork and distractions

Digital checklists reduce a worker’s cognitive load to eliminate uncertainty, allowing for focus on safely performing the task at hand. With no frustrating distractions (e.g., lost paper checklists, unclear directions, tracking down other information), workers can concentrate their effort on safely performing smart, thorough inspections.

Last thoughts

The sum efficacy of your safety program – and how you prove its rigor – results from reliable safety data flowing through every touchpoint of your workflow. This data improves training and enhances work quality, resulting in the reduction of hazardous incidents and easier inspections, while consistently demonstrating OSHA compliance.

Your company’s safety program is too important to depend upon crumpled pieces of paper or clunky spreadsheets. Digitized inspections gives companies the adaptability and rigor to be responsive to OSHA and foster a culture of safety for an ROI that can be measured in time, money, and worker safety.

Why wait?

Join the over 2,500 Fulcrum customers who have improved field inspection processes and streamlined reporting with real-time, scalable data sharing. Sign up for our free 30-day trial today!