After an elevator went into freefall in Atlanta in August 2021, killing one man, it was found that the elevator in question was long overdue for an inspection because, across the state, many had not been inspected in 2020 due to COVID-related inspection backlogs.
Squeezed on two major fronts – a skilled labor shortage of industry-shaking proportions and a pandemic that sidelined employees through work stoppage, illness or furlough – both private companies and government bodies are scrambling to tackle the growing backlog of required government inspections.
And as more inspections are delayed, worrying scenarios are emerging across the country, regardless of sector or state. Rockland County in California imposed a 30-day moratorium on building permits because of a backlog of more than 800 buildings that have gone uninspected for years for fire and building code compliance. Michigan has admitted to being years behind on required inspections for elevators, escalators and boilers, with some sites waiting years for required follow-up inspections even after safety deficiencies were found.
As backlogs increase, the chance that safety issues crop up increases exponentially. If governments do not address their inspection deficiencies, they risk catastrophic events similar to the Flint water crisis and the Surfside condo collapse. These disasters could have been prevented with a more efficient inspection system.
Digital inspection platforms, tailored to optimize the inspection process, are emerging as the most effective solution to tackle these backlogs. They also enhance overall safety standards. It’s important to explore the key ways in which digital inspections can refine the inspection process, helping to prevent the dangerous consequences of neglecting it.
Governments often struggle to grasp the full extent of their inspection activities. This leads to losing track of completed and pending tasks, essential for meeting safety requirements. For instance, after a tragic elevator incident, the State of Georgia realized it was unaware of the number of overdue elevator inspections.
If municipalities are unclear about what has or hasn’t been inspected, the consequences can be severe. Safety incidents and accidents can escalate, causing physical injuries, property damage, and legal repercussions.
To effectively manage the wide range of inspections and remediations, digital tools are necessary. These tools overcome the limitations of outdated paper systems. Real-time, cloud-based, and shared digital resources enable efficient tracking. This technology informs governing bodies about upcoming inspections and required procedures.
Overcome labor challenges
The ongoing labor shortage presents challenges, particularly in deploying inexperienced or contractor workforces, leading to significant knowledge gaps. Digital checklists are a solution to bridge these gaps. They provide organized sets of descriptions and reference materials directly to workers, including inspectors, at the point of use. These checklists can incorporate visual reference photos to guide inspections and confirm adherence to proper specifications. They also feature dropdown menus that prompt inspectors for additional details on equipment or site safety, or hide irrelevant fields, simplifying their tasks while ensuring compliance.
Tailored digital inspection checklists minimize the potential for errors. This is especially beneficial for less experienced or re-skilling employees, making it easier for them to perform their duties effectively and gather crucial safety data.
Oversight from home office
Without proper visibility, safety concerns remain hidden and can quickly morph into more dangerous issues. So, with a wealth of reliable and real-time data collected from field teams across projects and sites, digital platforms afford managers in the home office unprecedented visibility across the entire inspection process.
Full access to richer data lets you see the big picture and gives you greater oversight to monitor inspection progress on any number of sites. And full connectivity means that supervisors can review the work remotely and in real-time, assuring the integrity of the inspection process and facilitating timely remediation.
This 360-degree view emerging from digital checklists helps you better allocate resources, while still complying with safety measures and ensuring the full rigor of your processes.
Share data with stakeholders
Government inspections involve a diverse range of stakeholders, including inspectors, project managers, remediation teams, and subcontractors. Platforms like Fulcrum are designed to make data highly accessible to all these parties. When every stakeholder has access to the same reliable data in real time, it eliminates information gaps and prevents expensive delays. This coordinated approach enhances communication and facilitates more efficient decision-making processes.
Integrating different quality specifications and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with inspection data and workflows results in a consolidated dashboard. This ‘single pane of glass’ view ensures that all stakeholders have consistent information. Digital tools within this system allow for the flexible reporting of quality data in formats and schedules as needed.
Digital checklists enhance the inspection process, providing the agility to efficiently track and share essential data. They ensure sound and effective execution of inspections, meeting any scope or reporting demand. This flexibility allows for timely information sharing with any stakeholder.
Triage critical work
Be it from knowledge gaps or lower quality work, whenever potential safety incidents arise, the faster and more you know about an incident, the better you can respond.
The cloud-based, real-time synchronization of digital platforms ensures your data is always available at any stage of the inspection or distribution process. And features like real-time notifications and automated processes then make remediation needs instantly prioritizable.
Communication lines between HQ and the field should always be open. When you’re able to instantly share updated data, you are better positioned to adapt to any safety situation and to reliably prioritize issues with data-driven decisions so that potential roadblocks or hazards can be remediated on the spot.
Digital platforms link your entire team across various tasks and locations, using devices they carry with them. This integration forms a seamless network of workflows that are easy to manage, regardless of their complexity or scale.
The ability of digital platforms to streamline workflows is significant. They offer customized checklists, visual materials, and timely notifications and alerts. This results in remarkable agility in operations. Moreover, managers can swiftly assign inspections and subsequent tasks, enhancing essential oversight. This oversight is crucial for effectively monitoring teams and progress, and making adjustments as needed. An agile, responsive tool creates agile, responsive teams.
Eliminate backlog for good
Digital field inspection checklists are the most powerful tool in the inspection arsenal. Quickly and reliably, they streamline the inspection process, make reporting and proving compliance easier, keep track of ongoing and expected work, and manage follow-up activities due to any discovered issues during inspections.
A digital checklist platform like Fulcrum, specifically designed with inspections in mind, will modernize your inspection process so that your backlog first shrinks, then disappears. With Intelligent Team Automation, full inspection program visibility, and dashboards that bring together key stakeholders around real-time data and insights, you can finally have a single-paned inspection strategy across any number of teams, sites, and jurisdictions .
Learn how deploying Intelligent Team Automation (ITA) with Fulcrum can reduce your inspection backlog.