Documenting Equipment Inspections

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It’s So Hard

One of the most tedious and generally neglected field documentation responsibilities on a construction site is equipment inspection documentation. OSHA 1926.601(b)(14) states:

All vehicles in use shall be checked at the beginning of each shift to assure that the following parts, equipment, and accessories are in safe operating condition and free of apparent damage that could cause failure while in use:…”

The statement goes on to list various important components and systems that should be inspected daily prior to use. This section of the code specifically applies to vehicles, there are various similar requirements for other commonly used construction machinery. Cranes have received a good deal of attention in recent years and now have increased requirements as to inspection and documentation.

OSHA differentiates between frequent (daily to monthly) and periodic (1 to 12 month intervals) inspections. At CMBSC, we employ third party inspection services for the periodic and have undertaken numerous programs over the years in efforts to maintain the daily and weekly regimens.

But, do you really have to keep records?

As I am currently working on implementing daily inspections in CrewKeeper for iPhone, I have been doing a great deal of research to determine precisely what the requirements are both for compliance and effect. Surprisingly, except for certain cases, there is no requirement to keep daily records of inspection. OSHA only requires that it be done. That said, if your business sends workers out on a daily basis working with machinery and makes no effort to ensure safe practices are adhered to, you are assuming a great liability and tremendous risk.

Our current system, various paper checklists that foremen are required to fill out and turn in, is probably what most operations consider standard procedure. In practice this seems more of an exercise in CYA than an effective assurance of proper performance. It is not uncommon for these checklists to be blindly completed, all at once, at the last minute prior to submittal. Just the logistics of distributing, collecting and retaining the forms is daunting enough to deter many from even attempting it.

It can be done more effectively

My first iteration of CrewKeeper equipment inspection processing improves upon the validity of paper forms in several ways.

  • Using location services on the phone, we’ll only allow inspections created onsite.
  • Inspections cannot be back dated or edited after creation.
  • Each checklist item has  an information pane that explains what to look for and how to inspect the particular item. It is built in training and promotes competence.
  • Reports can be archived digitally and produced for review by way of a link at any time.
But it needs to be easier too

I’ve also set out to minimize the tedious nature of the process. To that end, a user is prompted with custom checklists filtered for the current interval.

  • The first inspection of the week is considered weekly interval. Checklist presented automatically includes a more broad list of items and overall condition.
  • Remaining inspections for the week are limited to critical items. These are items that may change daily and can be affected during the course of daily use.

This, the first iteration of the inspections process, is soon to be available in the next update of CrewKeeper. I am excited to see my own operation ditch the paper forms and will continue to evaluate, update with improvements until we have the best possible solution.

I welcome any ideas or opinions relevant to how the mobile device may be used to improve this or any other construction related process. Leave comments below. You can download a free copy of CrewKeeper for evaluation here.