Safety/Published: November 17, 2022

What to Look for in a Safety Inspection App

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Workers at manufacturing plan using safety inspection app

According to the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), an average of 15 workers are fatally injured on the job every day. This is a sharp drop from the average of 38 when OSHA was created in 1970, yet it still leaves room for improvement. 

Regular safety inspections are one of the most important parts of reducing safety incidents, risks and costs. Using a safety inspection app can help make sure plant floor checks get done—and provide insights to maximize the results of your inspections.  

To help you choose the right safety inspection app for your plant, we’ve put together a quick guide on what to look for and what to expect as you navigate the process. 

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Why Use a Safety Management and Inspection App?

A digital safety and inspection app provides several advantages over pen-and-paper inspections, including the ability to: 

  • Gather more and better data for making safety-related decisions, particularly around root cause analysis and corrective actions 
  • Quickly complete inspections on a mobile device instead of having to create, distribute and manually enter findings from paper checklists 
  • Customize checklists and questions to address a broad range of process-specific risks while keeping inspections short  
  • Add photos to inspection questions and findings to clarify safety standards and accelerate corrective action 
  • Create a closed-loop process for addressing findings and keeping your inspection program on track 

Below we examine these points more closely, also looking at crucial elements of setup and support when comparing software vendors.  

Safety Reporting and Insights

Real-time reporting and insights are critical to developing leading safety indicators for proactively reducing workplace incidents. Here you’ll want to look for key capabilities such as: 

  • Graphic outputs such as Pareto charts showing safety failures by work area and trends over time 
  • Custom dashboards for different users, whether it’s a safety manager, plant manager or executive 
  • Non-conformance metrics to show where issues aren’t being closed out in a timely manner 

Configurable Inspection Checklists and Questions

The ability to customize checklists and questions is a key function to look for in a safety inspection app. Custom tags combined with question randomization are particularly helpful, allowing you to: 

  • Tag questions by work area, for example, to verify compliance with process-specific personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements 
  • Create randomized lists to cover a broad range of safety standards 
  • Rotate in questions related to known hazards or previous incidents 

Conditional questions are another feature that can help capture more detail when an inspection reveals a safety issue.  

Inspection Photos

When evaluating apps for safety inspections, consider a solution that allows you to add photos to questions and findings. This capability saves time and improves results by making it simple to: 

  • Include photos of what is and isn’t acceptable so auditors can quickly spot when conditions don’t meet safety standards 
  • Require a photo to be included with the inspection to verify that it took place 
  • Upload photos to inspection findings to accelerate corrective action, providing a clear visual of the problem rather than a lengthy written description  

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Closed-loop scheduling and Issue Mitigation

An effective safety inspection program goes beyond merely answering questions and checking off items on a list. To reduce incidents, it’s crucial to implement a closed-loop process that ensures inspections are conducted and issues are promptly addressed. Therefore, scheduling and resolving issues are vital tools to assess and utilize.

What should plants be looking for here? 

  • Utilize automated scheduling to quickly develop your safety inspection plan.
  • Implement email reminders and notifications to help individuals stay on schedule with their assigned inspections.
  • Enable the capability to document immediate mitigations or initiate comprehensive corrective actions when further investigation and additional steps are required.

Intuitive App

Choosing a safety inspection app that people actually want to use is essential to success. If it’s not easy to use, people will avoid using it. That means fewer inspections, less data and lower overall value from your investment.  

Setup and Support of Workspace Safety and Mobile Apps

Two final elements to consider when looking at safety inspection apps are set up and support processes. The vendor you choose has a significant impact on the ultimate success or failure of your implementation, so you’ll want to ask questions like:  

  • What do customers say about the vendor’s support? 
  • How long does it take to get a response to a question? 
  • Does the vendor incorporate user feedback into the platform? 
  • What is the typical implementation time?  
  • Does the vendor have a streamlined process for getting your program up and running? 
  • Do they provide ongoing training and office hours to make sure you’re getting the most from the app? 

Our Final Thoughts On Safety Inspection Apps

Digital apps for safety inspections can help you complete more plant floor checks and generate more data to improve safety. Avoiding even a single incident can deliver a significant return on investment (ROI), but you need the right tools to make that happen. A configurable, intuitive platform backed by robust support is key, fostering buy-in while ensuring that the app fits your plant’s unique processes and needs. 

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More reading on this topic: Layered process audit guideline
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