Physical work can be hard, dirty, and dangerous – and sometimes even deadly. With about 5,000 worker deaths per year, it’s not hard to see why workplaces are so highly regulated, and why safety is such a priority. And the tool that’s at the forefront of keeping workers safe, and companies from running afoul with OSHA, is the safety inspection.
Despite that — and despite the demonstrable fact that workplace inspections help prevent incidents, injuries, and illnesses — it’s hard to overcome the perception of safety measures and inspections as a tedious exercise in box-checking. If our employees only see inspections as a hedge against punishments from OSHA, and not a way to make their lives and our businesses better, they won’t really commit to diligently using inspections to create a safer workplace.
Somehow, we need to show the real impact of safety.
For example, we can remind people of the real cost of workplace injuries. As is revealed in the nifty if rather ghoulish Safety Pays Guide interactive online tool by OSHA, a company with a 6% profit margin (the 2021 average for highway contractors and utilities) will incur a total cost of $64,022 (direct cost of $30,487/indirect cost of $33,535) from one worker sustaining a sprain. The sales required to cover the direct cost is $558,928, while sales to make up for the total cost is incredibly over a million dollars – a staggering burden to any operation for a rather minor injury.
And after we’ve convinced our supervisors and field staff that safety inspections are important for more than making OSHA happy, is there anything to be done to make them less painful?
The three main pain points for safety inspections are inability to scale, digitization dilemmas, and lack of visibility.
Issues around inability to scale can be addressed with inspection consistency, with each inspection following the same steps; continuity, so when one worker leaves or is unavailable, the replacement inspector is able to pick up where the other left off; and concurrence, where everyone is working from the same version-controlled process.
For digitization dilemmas, we suggest eliminating steps: for example, instead of spreadsheet ➡️report/analysis, or worse, paper ➡️spreadsheet ➡️report/analysis, why not go right from inspection to analysis with digital inspection processes?
And finally, the pain point of lack of visibility into where field staff is working, what they're doing, and when they might be getting back (or if they'll be getting back at all) can be solved through a field inspection management platform with robust location functions. Supervisors can ensure workers are where they need to be and see data being recorded in real time, without needing to wait for workers to return to the office with paper to input or spreadsheets to email. Even better, when the inspection platform is integrated with a company's inspection documentation reporting system, data can also be inserted into reports for quick distribution.
We admit that no one really likes to do inspections, but there are ways to make them less onerous. Start by investigating field inspection management solutions that can help you scale, address digitization difficulties, and provide the visibility your organization needs. Ideally, any solution you select will help you:
● Maximize field team performance and agility
● Harness the value of location for mobile teams
● Ensure inspection rigor and compliance
● Connect the field and the back office
If you'd like more details around the talking points above, we invite you to check out the full guide, Using Technology to Make Safety Inspections Less Painful (and More Powerful). The free guide shares more insights into safety inspections, and how this cornerstone of workplace safety can move from a tedious chore into something altogether more useful.