Over the last couple of years, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, especially the way we work. With remote and virtual work becoming the new normal, workplace safety professionals have some exciting new tools and technologies, including virtual safety audits – a flexible option for making sure your workplace is safe and in compliance.
It’s now possible for our safety experts to audit your construction site or facility from anywhere in the country!
What is a Virtual Safety Audit?
A virtual safety audit conducts the full audit using remote visual assistance in a secure digital environment. Participants can see and hear each other, share documents, discuss processes/procedures and be interviewed.
Everything is done remotely including gathering facts, reviewing critical information as well as verifying that systems, processes and procedures are effective and comply with all applicable standards.
Audit interviews and report presentations are handled via online meeting tools such as Microsoft Teams. In this way, participants can complete the three elements of an audit remotely: Review, verification and interview.
What are the Benefits of a Virtual Safety Audit?
When on-site auditing isn’t available, virtual safety auditing offers a smart solution. Here are some key benefits that come into play.
- On-demand anytime. It’s far easier to schedule time with key people when travel requirements are dropped from the equation.
- Increased reach and reduced risk. Virtual audits allow you to avoid travel, making more sites accessible and increasing control. As a result, you can maintain business continuity under challenging distances or conditions.
- More flexible approaches. Virtual audits can be readily tailored to different industries, companies, and more.
- Improved access to experts. Instead of gathering several experts together in one place, they can all be tied in using virtual systems from any location.
- Real-time feedback and documentation. There’s no delay while the audit team returns to their offices and prepares feedback documents. It can happen right away.
- Quick assistance with OSHA visits and accident investigations. Readily available means just that. Visit and investigation assistance is essentially on-call and on the job quickly and easily.
- No travel time or expenses. In all these situations there’s no travel time or expenses. That also means there is no lost working time while waiting on flights or driving to locations.
- Reduced CO2 footprint. Because of reduced mileage by car/train/plane, virtual audits create a reduced CO2 footprint.
Virtual Safety Audit Best Practices
Here are some best practices and approaches to take into consideration to ensure you achieve the best results possible.
- Planning. Meticulous planning can greatly ease the auditor’s task by lining up everyone for the needed interviews as well as gathering all the required documentation. Routes through the facility should also be carefully mapped out to avoid problems during the audit. It’s also important to have a quiet workplace where confidential information can be presented and discussed.
- Familiarity. Ideally, the auditor will not only be familiar with the industry but also with the site being audited. If they’ve visited the site in the past, they will have a sound knowledge of what to expect and what to look for during the audit.
- Reliable, fast internet connections for participants. Poor video can reduce the auditor’s view of the operation. Similarly, poor internet connections can break up meetings and interviews greatly limiting their effectiveness and causing delays.
- Communication. Make sure participants have webcams and comfortable microphones/headset(s) with good voice quality.
On-Site and Virtual Safety Audits Compared
The primary benefit of an on-site, in-person audit is that the auditor or audit team can see exactly what’s taking place in the workplace. They can observe worker interactions and the actual work taking place. The auditor can also readily access existing records and other documentation.
On the other hand, a virtual audit requires some preparation by the facility being audited. Interviews need to be arranged and records need to be prepared and ready for review. Sometimes group interaction will be required, which requires prior scheduling rather than a simple impromptu gathering with the auditor.
Even so, virtual safety audits offer a number of benefits that are well worth the time and effort.
Virtual Safety Audit — Let’s Get Started
To find out more, check out this Virtual Safety Audit flyer. If a virtual safety audit sounds like it might work for your organization, it’s time to schedule a demonstration with Steve Bowen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-447-9905.
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