Late in 2021, Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) faced a nightmare scenario: a former contract worker was alleged to have falsified as many as 3,000 electric system inspection reports over the last two years. The fake inspection results came to light when a power pole that had been supposedly inspected and found free of rot collapsed into a residential backyard, sending a live electrical wire into a swimming pool. (Luckily, no one was injured.)
While PG&E scrambles to perform the missing inspections of areas of high risk for fire in the Sierra Foothills, it also is fielding serious questions about the supervision of its workers and contractors, and how the falsification of inspections could have gone on for so long undetected. Unfortunately, PG&E is not alone in the problem of falsified inspection reports – a simple Google search finds more than a few other examples:
Clearly, companies must be concerned not only about getting workers to do inspections, and having those inspections performed competently, but also about inspectors being honest and diligent in their duties. As contractors perform more tasks, and more people work alone in the field without immediate supervision, it’s never been more important to ensure that they’re doing inspections right. Here’s where a digital field inspection management platform (like that offered by Fulcrum) can make the difference between hoping work is being done to being certain with features including:
While in theory it’s possible that an inspector would drive to an inspection site and then fail to perform the inspection once there, simply filling in bogus information, it seems unlikely – as long as you’re there, why not actually do your job? Digital inspections make it easier to do the right thing (performing inspections) than the wrong thing (creating or copying the data needed to fake them).
Even in those cases where an inspector doesn’t object to the commute to the inspection sites so much as the performance of the inspection itself, his or her deception would be uncovered through the documentation requirements of photos and/or videos as well as back-office checks against past inspections and other inspector job performance details.
We admit that there is no surefire way to prevent some people from failing to perform their jobs, but we can make it harder for them to avoid detection – so much harder that potential slackers will likely simply quit and move on to easier (to grift) and greener pastures.