Why Inspect Your Safety Gear?
With all of the admin work you already do for your business, and all the responsibilities cleaners have on job sites, gear inspection can easily feel like just another chore. But, there are good reasons to inspect your safety gear.
The main reason to inspect is, of course, safety. “Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) exists to keep you safe, and if there’s a weak point in the gear, it needs to be identified by inspection before putting it into service,” explained Bill Moor from Petzl. If you plan to trust your life or your employee’s life to a piece of equipment, you want to make sure that it’s operating correctly. The consequences of damaged or worn equipment could be injury or death.
You should also inspect your gear to help mitigate liability and costs. Safety incidents can be extremely costly in lost time, lowered employee trust, bad PR, and fines. OSHA also mandates that “The rope descent system is inspected at the start of each work shift that it is to be used,” (OSHA 1910.27 (b)(2)(iv)). And, having equipment fail inspection without having a replacement ready can lead to lost time on jobs. Regular inspections help you spot equipment that may be nearing end-of-life, allowing you to plan for replacement.
Why Track Safety Inspections?
Inspecting your gear is an essential first step. The next step is to keep track of your inspections. A log of inspections helps you trace the usage of a particular device, which is critical if you retire your equipment at certain intervals. For example, if you retire and replace your rope every 3 years, you need to keep track of the age of each rope. “Most components of a safety system (harness, lanyard, rope grab, etc., etc) have shelf-lives designated by their manufacturer. Tracking inspections create the timeline to reaching the end of useful life, even if the equipment is not damaged or overly worn,” said Stefan Bright, IWCA Safety Director. A log also helps you know that a certain piece of equipment hasn’t been involved in a shock load and is safe to use.
Logs are especially crucial in larger crews where gear management is more complex. You could have equipment like ropes, harnesses, or carabiners that are shared. In that case, the current user will want to be able to refer to the inspection history on the gear they’ll be using that day.
If you are part of a larger company, you might also find logs useful for reporting and compliance. You may require your crews to inspect their gear regularly, but without a record to refer to, you’ll have no way of knowing if it’s being done. And, as I mentioned earlier, you won’t know about equipment that you’ll need to replace until it’s already broken.
How To Manage Inspections
Depending on your needs, the complexity of your company, and inspection demands, there are a few options for handling inspections.
Paper logs might sound old school or antiquated, but for many companies, they are perfect. For smaller organizations, they do everything you require. They are easy to use with little-to-no training needed. At Award Window Cleaning, owner Mark S. Reinhart has his crew fill out and sign a daily written inspection sheet. The paper trail is easy to follow whenever needed. Paper forms aren’t limited by poor cell signals or internet outages. For keeping track of a small set of gear, even the best spreadsheet or app has trouble keeping up with the speed of a paper form. In case of an OSHA inspection, it’s easy to produce your log.
Some manufacturers like Petzl even offer a PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) PDF Form for each piece of equipment they make. Download it on their site and print it out. That’s your new inspection form for that piece of equipment!
And, don’t forget that paper logs are free or very low cost. Even if a piece of software works better, if your needs are simple, it can be hard to justify the cost of software versus the cost of a notebook.
If paper doesn’t cut it for you, the next step is a shared spreadsheet. Like a paper log, this can be a very low-cost option (Google Sheets is available for free!). The shared spreadsheet has a few benefits over paper.
First, it’s a lot easier to share the data between people. For larger companies, you might have several crews or office staff that all need to access the data. Any inspections logged in the field can be immediately seen by supervisors and purchasers.
Spreadsheets can be very user friendly too. If using Google Sheets, you can create a Form that your crew can use for their inspections with preset questions. Any smartphone can then log the inspections.
Of course, this can be limited by a poor internet connection. Some companies opt for a hybrid approach, having the crew use paper logs and then entering that information into a spreadsheet later.
For larger companies or companies with unique needs, you may find a spreadsheet too cumbersome or lacking in features. Want to add reminders to do inspections at certain intervals? Have a custom checklist for each type of gear? Different levels of access for different users? Integrations with your accounting and scheduling software? When you start having needs like these, it’s time to look into another solution.
For example, check out JGID (Just Get It Done), an all-in-one business software designed for service companies. You can use it for scheduling, estimating, invoicing, and lots more. Plus, it can handle your gear inspections, all in one place! It even integrates with RFID scanning if you’re ready to take things to the next level. You can add RFID chips to each piece of gear, scan them with your smartphone, and it will pull up that piece of equipment in JGID. From there, you can quickly see history, log a new inspection, or order new gear.
If you want to check out JGID, use the links at the bottom of this page to get an extra 31 days free trial. Full disclosure: If you decide to pay for JGID, abc receives a small commission. Thanks for supporting us!
Those are the basics of why and how to inspect your safety equipment. How do you handle inspections? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.