Tag: Inspector

Why You Need to Take Safety Compliance into Your Own Hands

If it were up to me (aka. If I had some sort of divine power), I would make it so that no one ever made a mistake when operating heavy machinery. If I was Mother Nature, I would make sure that everyone had this surprisingly perfect knowledge of how to operate powerful machinery. OK, maybe not perfect, but at very least everyone would know how to avoid hurting people.

Unfortunately, this is impossible. Why am I all of a sudden so altruistic? I’m not. I witnessed my first car accident this week. To answer some basic questions, no, no one was hurt. No I was not behind the wheel, and no I was not the one who was hit. But I could have been.

The situation: I was crossing the street on a rainy Monday, saw the walking light turn green and started to cross the street when the person standing beside me stopped me. For a split second, my thoughts went “Oh my goodness, this crazy person is holding me back. I’m going to be late for work and probably robbed.” But no. The moment he stopped me, a car made a right turn, while its driver was looking left and BOOM, it hits the girl who was crossing the street in front of me. If I had crossed the street, it would have been me.

There are actually two direct causes to why this accident happened. The obvious reason is the driver. She was careless to not look both ways.  The more complicated cause would be the fact that the rules of the road are not perfect. While a driver is making a right turn, they tend to keep an eye on incoming traffic, rather than what’s in front of them. This is a perfect example of why you should be taking safety into your own hands: the rules don’t always cover every possible hazardous situation.

In every industry, there are safety rules and regulations. Sometimes, it is simply a set of inspections that must be done periodically. While these rules may seem enough to be compliant, how you go about following them is your choice. Performing inspections when necessary is the most basic step of being safety compliant. However, these rules have not been perfected.

How you perform your inspections, maintain records, or keep track of your equipment can not only help you be compliant, but also take safety compliance to the next level. It can help you perfect the system for everyone involved. You can help prevent accidents and ensure safety, even if the regulations don’t cover it all.  Paper based safety inspections, is the token example of something that just works and keeps you compliant, but can also allow hazardous situations to fall through the cracks of an imperfect system.

Using a digitized system to perform your inspections and maintain your records is the first step of taking safety compliance to the next level. Not only does it keep you compliant, but it also keeps all you ahead of the game. Having a digital system prevents the loss of data, therefore allowing you to have the most up-to-date inspection records without losing records in an endless road of filing cabinets. Unfortunately, rules and regulations don’t cover this possibility, but will still hold you responsible for any accidents caused by a loss of records. So why take the risk?

Performing your inspections digitally also allows you to complete inspections in a timely fashion. This way, your customers can continue with their daily duties and you can avoid overspending your man-power with a paper-and-pen system. By saving them time, your inspectors can be more accurate during an inspection and avoid a mistake due to a time limit.

With digital methods, you can take safety compliance into your own hands, and ensure that your customer, your inspectors and your company can all rest assured. Even though the rules and regulations may not cover all possible situations, you can sleep calmly at night knowing you have taken the safety inspection system one step further and stayed ahead of the game.

2 Reasons why Day-Care Inspectors need Inspection Software

At Field ID, we usually deal with inspectors and safety managers at mines, utilities and petrochemical companies.  Usually people conducting electronic inspections are inspecting valves, hoses, rigging and harnesses.  What about day-cares?

I recently read an article about day care inspections.  There are inspectors that go to day-cares to inspect them, just as a safety auditor would audit a facility.  In a recent report by Auditor General Merwan Saher, it was noted that inspectors need to take steps to improve the documentation of their inspections.  Children and Youth Services Minister Yvonne Fritz later commented and said her department will move quickly to address concerns of poor inspection records.

These problems are common with inspection and safety compliance management problems found in other industries.  Modern Safety is truly a solution for their problems.  Below are the two major reasons why day-care inspectors need inspection software.

Reason 1: Poor Records – Clipboards and Filing Cabinets don’t cut it!

The day-care inspectors keep paper based records poorly.  If you have more than one inspector, managing inspections becomes a nightmare.  Handheld devices can easily solve the problem of taking the inspections.  Using Field ID, the results of the inspection would be stored online where day-care operators could login, at anytime, to view those results and maintain their own inspections.

Reason 2: Inconsistency with Inspections

Right now the day-care inspectors are inconsistent.  That is very common with paper-based safety management.  With Field ID and handheld devices, the actual inspection checklist is maintained centrally, so all of the inspectors have to follow a consistent format.  Consistency is one of the main reasons inspection software is so valuable.

Taking Day-Care Inspections to the Next Level

Another issue that Field ID solves is inspection fraud.  Using inspection software, you can actually record the location (GPS) and time the inspection was conducted.  There is no way you can backdate or falsify an inspection.  Although this was not listed as a problem, it is something that will creep up.

Minister Yvonne Fritz stated she wanted to move quickly on the recommendations.  I hope she thinks outside the box and implements something that involves inspection software and electronic safety management.

3 Safety Compliance Workflow Scenarios to Evaluate the Battle between Inspection Software and Paper

Recently, my colleague Chris decided that he was going to attempt to go all paperless. He used his Blackberry for taking notes, and decided that he would no longer have any paper on his desk. As we went around the room, observing the doings of our fellow coworkers, we discovered that no one was quite able to live without having a couple of paper sheets on their desk.  It was rather insightful, at a time where computers practically rule the world, there was not a single person who had a paper-free workstation.

Field ID knows that sometimes we need paper. We love paper. To be honest, our printer is usually our employee of the month.  But in an increasingly paperless world, paper is become a much less practical solution for safety compliance process and we look forward to the day when the industry is completely paperless. In today’s blog, I will outline the different workflow scenarios that battle between paper and paperless solutions.

On-Site Safety Inspections

At Field ID, we believe that paper has no place during the safety inspection progress. When dealing with heavy equipment and harsh environments, paper just isn’t built for such stress. With inspection software and rugged devices, they can withstand the harsher environments, speed up the inspection process and have little to no risk of losing all your information because it started to rain. With paper, you may not be so lucky.

Best solution: Inspection Software

Maintaining Records for Reference and Review

After an inspection, safety inspectors need to maintain their records for future use. With paper, this includes filing these inspection records in an orderly fashion. Perhaps, you need to transfer your information from paper to excel and then print out a report. But when the next annual inspection is due, you will have to dig up the same file a year from now, in the same computer which had hundreds of files added to it since then.

With safety inspection software, there will be no extra work when safety inspectors finish their work. They simply just sync their handheld devices with the software and you can review it online. If in a year, you need to review this inspection, you can easily search for it by serial number.

Best solution: Inspection software

Presenting Safety Information

In Field ID, we allow our users to print out paper reports as a presentation tool to others, but we ultimately believe that the whole process should be paperless. A lot of our customers have switched from printing reports in our system, to a completely digitalized system. Field ID encourages safety inspectors to spread the word, and log into Field ID to review inspection information. This method gives people the freedom to review information whenever they want. The safety inspectors don’t need to spend time and money trying to send paper reports over to other people. Paperless reporting creates less work for the inspectors, especially since people can view the information online the moment it is complete.

Best Solution: Inspection Software

In all three parts of a basic inspector’s workflow, it seems the inspection software is a consistently better solution that a paper-based system. While we understand that to create a paperless world altogether is quite far-fetched, I hope that this blog post shows you that paper has no place in any part of your workflow throughout the safety compliance industry.

Safety and the Railway Industry

Safety is a Priority for Rail Lines

Right now I am riding a train on my way to a town called Almonte to attend a wedding.  Almonte is a small town outside of Ottawa, and a little known fact is that the person who invented basketball was originally from Almonte.  What does this have to do with modern safety?  Well, it’s the train that inspired this blog post, not basketball or the town of Almonte.

Safety is Everywhere

First off, working at Field ID makes it impossible to not think about safety in situations where you typically never would.  Just ask Teresa, her last two blog posts were about the Honda Indy and Canada’s Wonderland (as opposed to construction sites and offshore oil rigs).  We have had inquires from different rail lines lately about using Field ID to do inspections, and hence why I was aching to write this blog post.  I am still learning about all the safety checklists a rail line would require, but let me highlight one that I know about for sure, and one we are already very familiar with.

Fall Protection Systems

Railcar Fall Protection System

Along every single rail line, there is at one point or another a fall protection system.  This allows for maintenance, loading and other tasks that require a person to get up high on a rail car.  It just so happens that fall protection systems are one of the most heavily regulated pieces of equipment in North America.  This of course is due to the fact that falls continue to be a leading cause of workplace injuries and OSHA penalties and citations .  Fall protection systems are required to be inspected and re-certified annually. They are not the only items that require proper safety traceability for a rail line.  There are mini (and some times not so mini) construction sites along the entire length of the track.  Slings, hoists and other regulated equipment are used every single day.

I truly love traveling by train whenever I can.  WiFi, leg room and the absence of line-ups that plague airport security are what seal the deal for me.  Turns out another advantage of the train is the opportunity to write blog posts about Modern Safety.

Fire Extinguisher Safety – A Perfect Fit for Electronic Safety Management

At Field ID, we are always expanding our portfolio of equipment. We started with rigging and lifting and quickly added more and more equipment types. The more we deal with end users the more safety equipment we add. One of our Field ID users, a large mine in North America, had a distinct need to inspect and maintain their fire extinguishers. This introduced us to the world of fire safety. Like most safety equipment we deal with, the fire extinguisher inspection process is riddled with mountains of unmanageable paperwork. As I’ll explain, fire extinguishers are a perfect fit for Modern Safety.

The Fire Extinguisher Paper Trail

Although fire extinguishers seem simple enough, there are a lot of rules and regulations that companies must abide by to ensure they are up-to-spec in regards to safety compliance.  There are 3 levels of inspection maintenance:

Maintenance Inspection

The fire extinguisher must be visually inspected to ensure it has good pressure, the correct volume, and that all other types of servicing have been completed (to be explained soon). When this inspection is complete, a safety tag is placed around the pin. This must be done yearly.

Internal Maintenance

Internal maintenance includes having the fire extinguisher emptied and visually inspected. Based on the type of fire extinguisher, there is differing levels of internal maintenance that needs to be done and recorded.

  1. Water – Yearly
  2. Foam – Every 3 years
  3. Wet Chemical – Every 5 years
  4. Dry Chemical – Every 6 years

Hydrostatic Testing

Hydrostatic testing is the process in which a fire extinguisher is emptied, depressurized and the valve is removed. A thorough internal and external visual inspection is completed. The cylinder is then filled with water, placed in a safety cage and then pressurized to the specified test pressure.

  1. Water, foam, wet chemical – Every 5 years
  2. Dry chemical –Every 12 years

An empty fire extinguisher which was not replaced for years. Source: Wikipedia

The Problems with Traditional Fire Extinguisher Safety Management

I’ve just listed 3 different types of maintenance and inspections that need to be done on a single fire extinguisher. Let’s look at 3 problems.

Problem 1: Fire Extinguisher Identification

Like all the other safety equipment we deal with, identification is the first problem in safety compliance management. Currently, fire extinguishers are identified by serial numbers, which is prone to human error. Not only that, when an inspection is completed, the only way to know that is a paper tag that is attached to the fire extinguisher. What if that tag was ripped off? What happens if it’s lost? With no other records, it’s almost impossible to ensure that fire extinguisher is safe.

Problem 2: Fire Extinguisher Paperwork

If you were to properly maintain records of all the visual inspections and maintenance, there would be a mountain of paperwork for each and every fire extinguisher. One fire extinguisher over 5 years can have anywhere from 7 to over 10 pieces of paper-based inspection records! Now, imagine you’re in a mine with over 100 fire extinguishers. The paper trail becomes huge.

Problem 3: Fire Extinguisher Scheduling

Each and every fire extinguisher is on its own maintenance and inspection schedule. How do you manage the maintenance inspection, internal maintenance and hydrostatic schedules? It becomes extremely complicated if you are using paper and pen. Basically, people are walking around physically checking the tag to see if maintenance is due.

A Sample Field ID Fire Extinguisher Profile Screenshot

Why are Fire Extinguishers perfect for Modern Safety

Fire Extinguishers are ripe for Modern Safety. At Field ID, we solve these problems quite well.

Solution 1: Advanced Identification – RFID or Barcodes

Instead of visually identifying a fire extinguisher with serial numbers, just use a handheld device to scan a barcode or RFID tag. Problem solved. No more errors in identification.

Solution 2: Handheld Device for Inspections and Safety Status

Instead of conducting an inspection on paper and recording the results on a safety tag, use handheld devices to actually conduct the inspection and store the results digitally. This will allow you to have a true audit trail for the fire extinguisher. Not only that, you can walk around with a handheld device, scan a fire extinguisher, and see when it was inspected and whether it is safe to use.

Solution 3: Electronic Scheduling

Scheduling and not knowing which fire extinguishers require service is a problem of the past with Modern Safety. With electronic systems such as Field ID, you can login to the web and instantly see what needs to be done and if any equipment is past due.

Electronic Fire Extinguisher Safety- The Time Has Come

Fire Extinguishers are a perfect fit for Modern Safety, not only because it is riddled with paperwork, but because there are multiple organizations that are involved with the whole process. An End User needs to inspect their own equipment as well as send it back to a qualified technician for the other maintenance. Paperwork is coming from multiple different sources. With the Field ID Safety Network, these safety partners can actually share data about a specific fire extinguisher and, for the first time, compile a true safety audit trail (I’ll discuss the Field ID Safety Network in further detail in a future post).

The time for electronic safety management of fire extinguishers has come. Modern Safety is truly a perfect fit.

Modern Safety For Forklift Inspections

Forklift Truck for Inspection

I will be the first to admit, before writing this post, I didn’t know very much about forklift safety.  I suspect many the people who work around forklifts also are not aware of all the safety requirements related to these machines.  What I did know is that forklifts do need to be inspected and are a perfect candidate for a modern safety approach.  I have been doing some research and I know a little more now, and wanted to provide a quick summary and thoughts.

Forklifts Are Everywhere

There are many types of equipment that are required to have safety inspections performed on them.  Forklifts can be found in almost any industrial environment, and they are one of the most common items that have safety compliance requirements.  Since they are so common, it is even harder to keep up-to-date records on forklifts.  People are used to not inspecting them, there needs to be a process in place to ensure inspections are carried out.

Heavily Regulated

Forklifts are regulated by the OSHA standards related to the safe use of powered industrial trucks.  It is suggested that a forklift is inspected before every shift, and thoroughly inspected annually.  Although each manufacturer may provide instructions for proper inspection, there is a base set of requirements that can be used for inspection across all models.

Safety Culture Around Forklifts

I read that there are over 850,000 forklifts in the US alone, and that 11% of them will be involved in an incident.  Creating a safety program around forklifts is a good first step towards a culture of safety.  Something that is so common on the job site makes for a very visible example of modern safety.  For more reading about forklift safety check out the Ontario Ministry of Labour site and also the OSHA page with more details.

3 Methods to Integrate Proof Test Machines with Field ID

When I first arrived at Field ID, one of the first terms thrown at me was “Proof Test.” When I looked up the term on Wikipedia, it told me a proof test was a process in which they shoot bulletproof vests to see how effective they are. I thought to myself “That doesn’t sound right, safety compliance and bullet proof vests?” Alas, Wikipedia proved to have guided me down an incorrect path.

When I did actually learn the definition of a proof test for safety compliance, I was interested to see how Field ID, actually integrated with these pull test machines among other testing systems:

Field ID integrates with several different types of external testing systems, including:

  1. Roberts Testing Machines
  2. Chant Proof Test Machines
  3. Wirop Proof Test Machines
  4. National Automation software

Field ID has three ways in which you can transfer information from your testing system into Field ID:

Method 1: Upload A Single Proof Test

You can look up a single asset, start a new inspection, and upload the test file to the inspection.

Method 2: Upload Multiple Proof Tests

Use our Multi-Proof Test Upload function to upload multiple proof tests. It matches the serial number of the test file with the serial number of the asset in Field ID and uploads the test file as a new inspection.

Method 3: Use the Field ID Databridge

Utilizing our Databridge with your integrated test system, the databridge will automatically pull data from the test system and upload them into Field ID according to serial number, saving you the hassle of uploading these tests manually to Field ID.

Field ID is dedicated to bettering safety compliance management. On top of this mission, we are also dedicated to making the lives of safety inspector easier. Integrating with external testing systems is just another step we’ve taken towards completing such mission. If you are a current user, give us some reviews on these methods. Let us know what you think so we can continue to make Field ID a better path to safety.

How McDonald’s and Starbucks are Enabling Modern Safety

Starbucks is the coffee company of choice for millions of people across the world.  Starbucks recently announced that they would offer free wireless internet at all U.S. stores starting July 1st.  This comes after McDonald’s dropped all wireless fees earlier this year.  So we now have two of the largest franchises offering free Wi-Fi in almost every corner.

How Electronic Inspections are Performed

At Field ID, we have many customers who provide third-party inspections for end users.  Whether it is a rigging distributor who does an annual inspection or a third party crane inspector, they both, at some point, need  internet connection.  The basic workflow for electronic inspection in Field ID is that an inspection is conducted with a handheld device and the data is securely transferred to our web-based system over the Internet.   During which, the data is transformed into proper inspection reports, certifications and compliance records.  End users, such as safety managers, can then login to their Field ID account to get access to those records to ensure they are compliant.  This is the quick and basic explanation on how third parties conduct inspections and relay that information to their end users.

Online Mode vs. Offline Mode

Field ID mobile is what we refer to as connection aware.  It knows whether it is connected to the Internet or not.  In online mode, it is always connected to the Internet.  Think Verizon, AT&T or Rogers.  These companies provide your handhelds with  the ability to transfer data at all times.  In contrast, in offline mode, Field ID mobile sync’s a certain amount of data before you go out to do an inspection and this data is synced back whenever you connect to the Internet in the future.  Although I am sure this number will drastically increase, I would say only 10% of our customers run their handheld devices in online mode.  Most Field ID users run in offline mode.  They usually conduct an inspection and return to the office to connect their handhelds to the internet in order to transfer all the data.

So what does this have to do with Safety?

Practicing Modern Safety includes being able to provide real-time safety information.  Online Mode is still pretty expensive.  Monthly data plans can start to add up when you have 5 to 10 devices in the field.  If you can’t provide your inspection data in real-time, the next best thing is to provide it in near real-time.  Now, it is much easier for an inspector to sync their handhelds.  They don’t even have to go back to their office.  Imagine, you’re an inspector and you are doing an inspection 3 hours away from your office.  Previously, it would take you 3 hours to travel back to office, and get those results into Field Id.  Now, you can literally pop in and sync your handheld at the closest Starbucks or McDonalds.  Last time I checked, there were 31,000+ McDonalds and 17,000+ Starbucks around the world!  By providing free and convenient internet access, Starbucks and McDonalds are making it easier for Field ID users to provide important inspection and safety compliance data faster.  Indirectly, McDonalds and Starbucks are allowing more companies to enjoy the benefits of Modern Safety.

3 Presentations from the Crane Certification Association of America (CCAA) Spring 2010 Meeting

I was recently at the CCAA spring meeting in Washington, DC.  For those of you who don’t know about the CCAA:

The purpose of the Association is to promote crane safety, improve the certification profession and address the subject of crane safety in governmental forums.

For a further explanation and description, check out their website here.  Apart from attending the meetings, I am also on the Board, so I get to see the inner workings of the Association.  As usual, the meeting was filled with great speakers and presentations.  I was able to catch a handful of presentations.  Here are 3 presentations I thought were very interesting.

1. OSHA Maritime

Paul Comolli of the US Department of Labor/OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) was on hand to discuss the latest dealings of OSHA and how it affects crane inspectors.  Paul is a regular and comes to almost every meeting.  The most interesting piece of information was the amount of time it takes to become an OSHA approved surveyor: someone who certifies maritime cranes.  Here are the requirements:

  1. 10 years of crane inspection experience
  2. At least 4 years experience in maritime crane inspection
  3. Has recent maritime crane inspection experience within the last 4 years

The question that most people have is, how do you inspect maritime cranes if you aren’t approved by OSHA?  Basically, you have to act as an apprentice under an approved surveyor until you can apply yourself.  One very positive note is that Maritime OSHA has an online database that has been in use for the last couple of months.  Although it’s not at the level that I would like to see, it’s definitely moving the crane industry in the right Modern Safety direction!

Paul Comolli of OSHA at the CCAA Meeting

2. Mine Safety (MSHA)

David Kidd of Rocky Mountain Hoist Services gave a heartfelt presentation about mine safety.  Rocky Mountain Hoist Services deals mostly with large mining companies that follow MSHA (Mine Safety and Health Administration).  He spoke about his experience and the ever-increasing analysis necessary to ensure that mines are safe.  David’s main point was that all accidents can be prevented and should never happen.

3. Third Party Crane Inspections

Ed Shapiro, of HESCO and the President of the CCAA, spoke about the importance of third party inspections.  Ed pointed out that there can be a conflict of interest when it comes to manufacturers, repair companies, and crane owners when it comes to annual inspections.  Each party has their own motivation to pass or fail a crane.  Some of the benefits of having a third party inspector to inspect your cranes include:

  1. Credentials to allow for easier access to job sites
  2. Prove to your insurance company you have a proper crane safety program

Until the Next Meeting…

To get more details on the CCAA or the next meeting, visit their website.  Look for some exciting CCAA developments in the near future.

3 Reasons why the iPad will change the way we Conduct and Manage Safety Inspections

The Apple iPad is a tablet computer that has definitely made a splash in the computer industry.  Let’s look at some of the numbers.  According to this article, as of May 3rd, 2010, Apple has sold 1 million iPads since its launch.  Apple has done it again with a great product, but what does this mean for Safety, and more importantly, Modern Safety?  I’ve had the iPad for a couple of weeks now and wanted to share some of my thoughts.

What the iPad means for Modern Safety

The iPad is just a new way to record and display information.  The iPad will, as usual, be mimicked by other manufacturers and we’ll see a whole slew of new tablet devices.  The iPad is just a great way to record information, especially inspections.  Modern Safety is all about using technology to increase safety.  The problem with technology is that if it’s not easy to use, people will not use it.  The iPad not only represents a new way to record and display information, it is also very intuitive and easy to use.  Here are 3 reasons I think that the iPad will increase adoption of electronic safety inspections.

3 Reasons why the iPad will Increase Adoption

Reason 1: Form Factor

99% of the world uses a clipboard and pen to conduct inspections.  When selling Field ID, our biggest competitor is the paper-based method of doing an inspection.  The easier we can make the transition off paper, the more Modern Safety will be adopted.  Since the iPad looks like a hi-tech clipboard, it’ll be easier for people to adjust to it, which is a huge step in mass adoption.

Reason 2: Ease of use

For mass adoption of technology, it has to be dead simple to use.  At Field ID, our motto is “Safety Made Simple”.  Everything we do revolves around making the Inspection and Safety Compliance Management (ISCM) process simpler and easier.   The fact that the iPad is easy to use will allow more people to adopt it.  We’ve learned that ease of use is the biggest selling factor when it comes to Field ID.

Reason 3: Cost

Let’s face it, cost is important.  The lowest cost iPad starts at $499 USD.  That is a great price for such a powerful and useful device.  Cost is an initial deterrent when people try to modernize their safety processes.  Having the iPad available a lower cost will once again promote adoption of Modern Safety practices.

The iPad Represents Adoption of Modern Safety

The iPad truly is a great way to conduct inspections and view safety information.  More importantly, it represents a lower barrier to entry to start using electronic methods to manage inspections and safety compliance.  That is the true benefit of the iPad.