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Environmental, health, and safety inspections (EHS) are one of the most effective measures to identify, prevent, and remediate threats to employee and public safety, quality work, and overall business operations. 

Potentially dangerous conditions, if undetected, can lead to workplace or public injury, illness, or fatality, but also extend beyond the worker to include property damage, extensive rework, poor quality work and products, and more. And any one of these exacts punishing business costs, including higher insurance premiums, a tarnished reputation, loss of revenue, or costly lawsuits and fines. 

But however important the work, EHS managers often find themselves between a rock and a hard place, juggling limited, if not shrinking resources, amid a growing list of tasks and inspections. That wider socioeconomic issues cause much of this dilemma makes solving it that much more challenging. 

To help alleviate the burden, many EHS departments are turning to digital field inspection platforms. By helping EHS managers collect and share more reliable, consistent, and value-added data, digital platforms help prioritize resources, so they can do their jobs better and with less effort.

In this post, we’ll look at some of the broad issues currently faced by EHS managers and how digital field inspections platforms can solve them, even under these adverse conditions, so that potentially EHS threats are identified and remediated as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

A gathering storm: current issues facing EHS managers

Worker shortage and higher wages. Long-term inspector shortages across sectors – whether for food, fire, or infrastructure – are not just reducing team sizes, but new hires are showing up on site with limited work and safety experience. With labor demand outstripping supply, we are seeing higher wages and minimum wage increases, which means EHS managers need to do a lot more with a lot less.

Unstable economy and cutbacks. Organizations are reacting to an unstable economy by tightening belts, trimming fat, and asking EHS managers to find more efficient ways to get inspections done.   

More environmental regulations. After years of neglect and with consequences becoming more drastic, at both the global and national level we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of environmental regulations that need to be enforced. 

Increased EPA funding. To combat entrenched and emerging environmental issues, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing more funds in the coming years. To access these funds, EHS managers will need to prove the quality and ROI of their inspection programs. 

Higher EPA fines. Failure to meet EPA regulations now also results in higher fines, as the EPA annually increases its maximum monetary civil penalties for violations of air, water, chemical, and hazardous waste programs to keep pace with inflation.

Public demand for more transparency. More than ever, consumers want to know about the products and services they buy. Growing concerns around everything from food safety to data security, law enforcement to the environment, has turned organizational transparency into table stakes. 

Increased investor demand for EHS responsibility. When 76% of consumers will not buy from companies that perform poorly on environmental and social issues, investors take notice and are themselves pushing for increased transparency. Because compliance is now directly linked to investor confidence, EHS managers have a bigger role in creating financial value for their organizations.

How digital field EHS inspection technology can help

To overcome these challenges, field inspection software quickly and consistently manages and coordinates all the data, tasks, and workflows that comprise a comprehensive and reliable EHS inspection program.

Leading digital platforms like Fulcrum make it easy to overcome the major roadblocks that EHS managers face every day, setting them up for continued success in the following ways: 

Fewer people, more efficiency.  Digital field inspection software streamlines the inspection process so that it takes less time, even with fewer people. Inspectors can quickly collect reliable data in real-time and directly on their mobile device, including value-added geolocation data and multimedia like audio and video files. Comprehensive reporting prevents inspectors from repeating tasks or wasting time traveling to the office to fill in reports, while increasing communications efficiency across teams to streamline remediation.

No experience, no problem. Digital checklists make it easy to onboard new staff, even if they lack experience. EHS managers can customize inspection checklists with SOPs and step-by-step instructions that are easy for new hires to follow. Cloud-connected platforms then let managers monitor them to help ensure compliance, quality work, and timely remediation.  

Proving your ROI. Digital platforms make it easy to prove your ROI in three distinct ways, crucial to meet internal KPIs and access external funds. First, platforms help carry out more inspections quicker and with less resources. Second, the subscription pricing model of inspection software adds ever more value while containing costs, boosting ROI. Finally, as a database of all your inspection data and history, digital platforms let managers quickly access and collate inspection information for others who want to assess ROI. 

Better insights. Digital inspection software creates a pipeline of consistent, reliable, and quality inspection data between the field and office, all of which is aggregated into high-level dashboards that affords EHS managers an unprecedented visibility. This single-pane view of the inspection process lets managers see trends and develop insights that further drive efficiency for better company-wide outcomes.  

Better interactions. Digital platforms can segment data and create a variety of reports that can automatically delivered, at the push of a button, to whichever stakeholder needs it, as many or as few people as needed. Never scrambling to prove your inspection data and the seamlessness of information sharing results in better interactions with executives, clients, and regulatory bodies.

Doing more with less has never been easier

Being an EHS manager has never been easy, but nowadays it’s especially hard. Just remember that you don’t have to do it alone. Fulcrum can help you do your job better with less time and effort by letting EHS managers customize digital checklists with accurate inspection procedures so rich inspection data is collected more quickly and with less effort. Cloud-connected team members update and share inspection environmental data on their mobile devices in real-time, circulating the critical information managers need to make better decisions for more successful, efficient, and safe outcomes, especially crucial when operating under today’s adverse conditions.

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About the author

Fulcrum is a field inspection management platform built to streamline safety and quality processes, field operations, and asset inspections, especially for mobile teams.

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