As an inspector, Steve developed a systematic method of approaching jobsites, which proved particularly useful when performing inspections at large, complex sites. This approach helped Steve conduct a thorough and complete site visit while spending most of his time on the areas of most significant concern.
According to Steve, a typical inspection took about an hour on-site with an equal amount of time needed for report generation.
Pre-Safety Reports, his usual process was as follows:
- Scan the worksite (5 minutes) – Conduct an initial visual assessment as you park and approach the site. What inspectors see will provide clues as to what safety concerns may exist. For example, sawing cement bricks may indicate the presence of silica dust, necessitating proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimize dust and exposure. Similarly, fall protection should be a focus if steel erection or roofing occurs.
- Meet with the superintendent(s) (10 minutes) – Check in at the gate or job trailer and ask to speak to the superintendent(s). Ask superintendents where their safety efforts are and if they want the inspection to concentrate on particular areas. For example, if a superintendent indicates employees are working in a cramped area with scissor lifts or other motorized equipment, you should spend extra time examining and documenting this issue so that actionable recommendations can be developed.
- Review site paperwork (10 minutes) – Review paperwork from past inspections, training sessions, and/or relevant safety data sheets. Follow up on corrective action items from previous inspections as they are often overlooked, mainly because there was no easy way to track them. Ensuring previously identified hazards are mitigated, and steps are in place to prevent their reoccurrence is an important part of the paperwork review process.
- Walk the site (30 minutes) – Twenty years ago, this was done using a digital camera and notepad. You would take pictures with the camera, then stop and jot down notes. Most inspectors switched to taking photos with cell phones or tablets as technology advanced. No matter the type of construction project, Steve suggests always covering the basics, including PPE usage, housekeeping practices, chemical storage, and conformance with electrical safety requirements. Additionally, he says inspectors should always walk the site to look out for OSHA’s fatal four leading causes of death in construction and demolition.
- Wrap-up visit (5 minutes) – Review notes with the superintendent before leaving the site, focusing on the biggest concerns. Ask the superintendent if he or she agrees with the findings, and be sure to provide him/her with an opportunity to add clarity or additional detail as needed. The goal is to provide a fair and accurate assessment of the worksite. You want everyone to be on the same page when the final report is submitted.
- Report generation (60 minutes) – Report creation occurred after the fact at the office, home, or hotel. Reports were manually created on a laptop using a Microsoft Word document or template. Creating a report was a laborious process that involved importing photos from a digital camera or cell phone, transcribing notes taken on-site, looking up and citing regulatory requirements, and drafting recommendations before emailing the report to the client.
Report writing, according to Steve, was the most dreaded part of a safety consultant’s job.
Creating reports manually proved to have several disadvantages:
- Depending on the volume of detailed notes and pictures from the site visit, report generation took a long time. The time spent on report creation could increase quickly if multiple inspections were performed daily.
- Regulations had to be looked up manually, and recommendations were typed out by hand.
- If you waited too long to type the report, your memory faded, and the end product was not as detailed as it could have been.
- Potentially, less-professional reports were created due to the rush to complete the report.
- Less consistency from one report to the next because you constantly had to recreate the wheel.
- Need to look up email contacts before sending the report.
- Reports needed to be manually saved to a customer folder.
In addition to the disadvantages mentioned above and the fact that safety consultants detest writing reports, the manual report writing process proved inefficient at best. If this description sounds all too familiar, Safety Reports will improve your work life for the better.
Are you ready to quit the manual safety inspection process and adopt a solution that makes it easier to do your job?
This article is the second in a series of discussions with Safety Reports founder Steve Polich. He talks about his career and the impact technology has on workplace safety. In part 3 of this series, Safety Reports founder Steve Polich describes how the advent of photo-based safety inspection applications helped optimize the site inspection process.