Remote Safety Inspections the New Alternative to Conducting In-person Safety Inspections During the Pandemic and Beyond?

By James Hinton
Director, EHS&Q

As we all know under the OSHA ACT the requirement for workplace inspections is a legal requirement. The need for these workplace inspections is also a necessary part of our effective safety programs. The use of routine workplace inspections have been proven over time to have positive impacts on identifying existing and potential hazards in the workplace. As Safety professionals we then take this data and utilize it to correct hazards in house and make sure they do not happen again.

Safety professionals utilize workplace audit data to implementing controls, such as elimination, substitution, engineering controls, administrative practices, and personal protective equipment for the workplace. Inspections also allow workers to discuss their concerns about safety. With the pandemic this simple normal task has become a major concern for both the construction and industrial workplace, with limited travel and minimal staffing concerns. Remote inspections can be an alternate and effective way to conduct a safety inspection not just during the pandemic but also in the future.

With the use of tablets and smart phones a single safety professional can walk an entire site with an employee, group of employees, and site leadership without even leaving their office or home! The most interesting part is that it doesn’t have to be a costly expense. For example, a safety professional and an employee can take iPhone and face time while doing the workplace inspection. The safety manager would be able to actively see the site through the camera as the employee walks the site. No bulky computes or tablets, you can snap a picture on the phone for reference and keep moving through the worksite audit.

On the same note we do now also have apps and software that can also be added to tablets or other smart phones where you can have a virtual inspection the same way. With the technology growing in the industry and the need to continue to conduct safety audits with limited resources, security, safety, or physical limitations, the use of alternative methods is a must!  A remote inspection can be an effective alternative and also a learning experience for the rest of the Team involved in the audit process.