Digitizing EHS Inspections

Jun 02, 2021

Inspections, health and safety checks, and audits take a big part of the leading indicators for many organizations. Setting quantitative targets for the management, supervision, and EHS teams are very common across many industries. On the other hand, the quality of these activities is often being questioned – are the companies really getting the expected value from those activities? Is the time being used efficiently? How efficient is the output of those inspection activities being checked and measured? I believe there are many more questions that you may ask or already have asked (or being asked) before.

There are also lots of discussions about the time allocated for the EHS inspections. You may hear figures like 4 hours/day per EHS supervisor, an inspection per 200 man-hours, etc. And yes, this process can be digitized with the new technologies; let’s say some of them for now, but why not for all in the upcoming years?

There are many advantages of digitizing this routine part of Health & Safety. The first one is of course, the time aspect – why to spend 4 hours a day if the Artificial Intelligence can be doing this for us by:

  • 7/24 with a high accuracy
  • Generating objective results and outputs
  • Notifying in real time
  • Creating a platform where ally our colleagues can access simultaneously

So, you don’t need to have a lot of file binders, keeping the completed checklists that no one is looking after the inspection is completed.

The other aspect of the digitalization of this process is about reporting unsafe acts/conditions and incidents. Companies are having many behavioral safety programs, observation card systems, etc. to encourage reporting. But we all know that, however our reporting culture would be high; it is impossible to report all the incidents, especially the unsafe acts and conditions. Let’s assume all of them are reported; how this process can be managed in terms of time, resources and efficiency. Even reporting an incident and following up the corrective actions require days for the management and EHS teams. So again, if this can be done in the digital world of today, it makes perfect sense to utilize the technology, get a clear picture of your facility in terms of unsafe acts and conditions, even access to a detailed analysis of those.

You may ask the question – what to do with this data? If you receive 200 reports a day, how can this be managed, even with the highest technology? This is a great question to think about, and my answer to this would be prioritization which requires human involvement. For example, if you are receiving 100 social distancing alerts per day, it doesn’t make too much sense to focus on all the individual alerts. But if you take a corrective action, i.e., an EHS campaign, a safety talk, or even a simple poster and if this corrective action is reducing your social distancing alerts to 40 per day isn’t this is a great value to reduce the risk of exposure. Let’s take another example, a high critical working at height alert - here, the real value lies in the identification of this activity, which maybe you weren’t aware of before or even not assessed in your risk assessments. Focusing on this individual alert may help you a lot, as taking corrective action and preventing it from occurring again can help you to eliminate a serious workplace accident in the future.

With the given examples and variety of the EHS scenarios like above, it seems like we really need a helping hand from the technology. Basically, to identify the unseen hazards, save time through reporting and inspections and take robust corrective actions to prevent them before any serious accident takes place.