Managing Safety at the workplace is one of the four cornerstones of any modern enterprise which are QHSE – Quality, Health, Safety, and Environment. Organizations cannot afford to neglect these four if they are looking for sustainability and progress.
While it is the employer’s responsibility to create a safe system of work, the top management depends on Inspections and Audits to ensure that the safety management system works as per the policy, planning, and program, which they have put in place.
PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) is a stepwise, four-stage approach for continually improving processes, products or services, and for resolving problems. It involves systematically testing possible solutions, assessing the results, and implementing the ones that have shown to work.
The “Check” aspect of the cycle of continual improvement-PDCA ((Plan-Do-Check-Act) is critical to any organization’s safety management system. Inspections and Audits are an integral part of this ‘Check’ process of monitoring.
Inspections are more frequent and audit less frequent, the comparison ends there. Audits are part of an assurance process whereas Inspection is done to identify hazards and result in controls or control measures that help by avoiding or mitigating risk.
In those good old days, the most basic tool for either Inspection or Audit was pen, paper, and clipboard! The advent of internet and the abundance of smart handheld and wearable devices have brought about a sea change in the inspection and audit scenarios.
The tablet is quickly replacing the pen and paper approach. Wearables such as Google glass, Helmet cameras are making remote inspections possible, feasible and credible.
Rugged Devices are those that can withstand site conditions including spills and shocks from accidental dropping of the dev. The ideal modern tools for inspections can be a rugged tablet loaded with interactive and supportive checklist software that is compatible enough to hold images and videos as required.
The Ideal Modern Inspection tool in our case a rugged tablet should also be loaded with software that helps with access to site standards & compliance database. It should also possess the ability to load data into templates such as the Hazard Identification and Risk Analysis (HIRA) records or risk assessments or action plans. The app in the tablet may also be amenable to changes required based upon the principle of Inspection.
CCTV and its Installations have made it possible to conduct inspections unnoticed especially the behaviour- based ones, with the recording helping in good behaviour reinforcement as well as proof of at- risk behaviour.
Coming to Audits we have several types, prominent among them are internal audits and external audits. Then we can further classify each of them as compliance audits, program audits, and comprehensive audits. Whatever be the type of audit, audit tools in the good old days used to be the same checklist clipboard pen and paper and were done manually.
Modern technological advances have resulted in the possibility of remote as well as Recordable Auditing. The occasions where an elderly auditor is unable to bring his vast audit experience to the audit process as he is denied permission to enter a premise due to his age, is now a thing of the past. Nowadays the audits can be done by a less experienced person with sound live guidance from the elderly and highly experienced auditor from his armchair – this becomes possible by the use of wearable camera gadgets such as Google Glass by the less experienced auditors who is now moving physically through the site.
Another tool of great importance for both Inspections and Audits is the Drone. Drones come in several avatars and the Modern Audit Drone is the one that has contact sensors like the one in the picture and can reach heights as well as enter confined spaces with ease. This reduces if not eliminates the life criticality of the Inspection and the audit process and requirements of permits, etc.
Technology has a lot to offer to the modern Safety Inspector and Auditor and usage of these modern tools are limited only by the imagination of the user. The western world is catching up fast with the use of drones and other modern tools for Inspections and Audits. Are we here in India ready to take up this challenge?
(Do consult ASK-EHS if you are interested in using any of these modern tools for your project requirements.)
ASK-EHS provides a variety of services to clients to help them measure the performance of their facilities & EHS management systems to ensure ongoing EHS regulatory compliance and sound EHS management system.