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Four Ways Dakota Software Can Help You Up Your EHS Inspections Game

May 21st, 2024

Four Ways Dakota Software Can Help You Up Your EHS Inspections Game

At Dakota Software, we have focused for decades on providing comprehensive Environmental, Health, and Safety (EHS) compliance solutions. We are excited to have recently added a new tool to our offerings, a digital inspection platform! In contrast to audits, inspection programs tend to be less comprehensive and more frequent. Inspections are typically managed from the bottom-up, allowing teams to have responsibility and flexibility as they find and fix smaller issues before they turn into larger ones. A well run inspection program can be a key to a successful compliance program.

We learned from talking with many professionals in the EHS field that while most organizations do have inspection programs, inspections are often still conducted on paper with results entered into spreadsheets, or never digitized at all. Some common pain points we heard were:

If any of these pain points feel familiar to you, you should consider the many benefits of digitization. By now, we’ve probably all at least heard that moving EHS activities to a digital platform offers us “more visibility” and allows us to “centralize data”. But what does that really mean in practice?

Simply put, the data gathered from inspections can offer visibility into your organization that can be used not only to improve EHS performance metrics, but ultimately help you protect workers and the surrounding environment (the real reason we’re all here, right!?).

Why Go Digital?

In this article, we will break down some specific ways that Dakota Inspections can help you better understand and improve EHS activities across your organization:

1) Standardize Programs

Without a centralized management system, comparing inspection performance across an organization can be an extremely challenging, or even impossible task. Many EHS teams we’ve talked with detailed the struggle of gaining institutional knowledge or determining where to focus improvement efforts when the only tools they have at their disposal are physical binders or clunky shared spreadsheets. Dakota’s Inspections eliminate this hassle by allowing for the creation of sharable, reusable inspection forms. These forms can be utilized across an entire organization to ensure apples-to-apples comparisons of EHS standards.

This level of standardization enables management teams to have the confidence that the right questions are being asked at the right places. Comparable inspection results also allow for institutional pain points to be pinpointed and addressed accordingly. Of course, not every inspection needs to be controlled at the organizational level; therefore, Inspections also allows for the flexibility of facility level management where team leaders deem appropriate. Use Dakota’s inspection form builder to:

  • Create standardized inspection forms to target your organization’s EHS priorities

  • Share inspection forms across your entire organization

  • Review Apples-to-Apples comparisons to pinpoint organizational needs

2) Ensure Timeliness

When interviewing EHS professionals about common challenges with inspection programs, a top concern was making sure inspections were done on time and documented. Even with our best efforts, tracking down when inspections need to be completed, what’s overdue, and who is supposed to be performing a given inspection can be daunting when inspections are being done on paper and/or managed using a spreadsheet system. Dakota Inspections helps manage this with built-in status tracking for all inspections. As soon as an inspection is scheduled, tracking begins. Tracking is automatically updated as inspectors perform (or don’t perform) inspections. Tracking Inspections can help you to:

  • Identify overdue inspections across your organization

  • Ensure that scheduled inspections are easily identified so they can be started on time

  • Review completed inspections for record keeping

3) Quickly Identify Failing Items

As EHS inspectors complete inspections, they are collecting a lot of valuable data about your organization. While tracking that inspections were completed on time is necessary for record keeping, the individual responses to the questions on each inspection can shed even more light on conditions within your organization. That is to say, tracking does not stop once an inspection is submitted! We want to be able to leverage the data collected within each inspection so your organization can benefit from it. After all, the reason we perform inspections in the first place is to identify risk factors so we can address them before they become larger issues. Dakota Inspections keeps track of the responses to inspection questions and makes that data easily available to you so you can:

  • Track overall pass rate for inspection questions across your organization

  • Compare inspection results on a facility-by-facility basis

  • Identify specific items that are continually failing inspections

4) Demonstrate Continuous Improvement

Once an issue has been identified, the next step is to fix it! Naturally, once issues have been identified and addressed, we want to be able to show that adjustments we have made had the intended results to improve environmental and/or workplace safety conditions. Dakota Inspections allows you to view and compare inspection results over time. Viewing your inspection data in this way allows you to:

  • Demonstrate that flagged “failing” items have been improved

  • Show improvement in pass rate of inspections over time

  • Indicate improvements within a particular facility that had been lagging

Inspections are the ‘eyes and the ears’ of the organization, providing insights into issues and trends from the ‘shop floor’ and ‘out in the field.’ Analysis of inspection results can be used to inform how EHS audit programs should be focused and prioritized. Together, inspections and audits can be a “one two punch” that provides a holistic view of compliance and drives the type of continuous improvement that EHS leaders are looking for.

Checklist Questions Included

The heart of any EHS inspection program is continual accountability and improvement to ensure that the best environmental and safety standards are maintained at all times. Atul Gawande, author of the Checklist Manifesto, explains how this practice can improve outcomes, even beyond the EHS field:

“[Checklists] remind us of the minimum necessary steps and make them explicit. They not only offer the possibility of verification but also instill a kind of discipline of higher performance.”

Digitizing helps us take this a step further! A digital inspection program simplifies inspection management and tracking, while also allowing for a deeper dive into the data collected with each inspection. At Dakota, we have done extensive research with EHS industry professionals to make sure that the core functions of inspection programs are easy to manage, common pain points have been thoughtfully addressed, and data collected has been highlighted in a meaningful way so managers can take action and demonstrate improvement.

Finally, with Dakota Inspections, there is no need to reinvent the wheel by creating your own checklist questions. Our in-house experts maintain a library of more than 500 inspection questions designed around EHS regulatory requirements and industry standards. Paired with Dakota’s regulatory profiling tools, your teams can be sure their inspection checklists are always current and accurate.

Request a Product Demo to see how Dakota Inspections can help you streamline your inspection program and start your journey toward continuous improvement, compliance assurance, and safety excellence.

Suzie  Housley, Ph.D.

Suzie Housley, Ph.D.

Product Owner

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