Safety Inspection Tip 1 – No More Duplicate Transcription Tasks


Who here has played the game “telephone” around a campfire? We all know the rules: one person whispers a riveting sentence into the next person’s ear and so on. The last person says the phrase out loud, usually to much laughter about how the original sentence was seriously garbled. Playing telephone around the campfire is a funny example of duplicate transcription and its accompanying errors. In the lab, transcription error is a common culprit in safety inspection checklists and tracking corrective actions.

When a safety inspector uses a paper spreadsheet, and then copies the findings to a notice of corrective action, this is a potential weak point. Sometimes with a heavy workload, inspectors may even have assistants transcribing the report, which sounds to me just like a game of telephone!



In research facilities, safety inspections can establish safety for employees, improve compliance and reduce liability. However, transcription errors can erase all that in a flash. This is the first post of a series on the Five Keys to Successful Safety Inspections! In our best practices webinar, we hear tips and tricks for safety inspections from ChemSW’s own Nichole Lindgren, technical specialist and inventory consultant.

We are always surprised at how many facilities are still using a pen and paper process for safety inspections. We’ve seen workflows in which the inspector prints out a checklist from the computer, goes to the field to manually capture the findings, and then turn around to transfer copy those findings to a report. This report is sent out physically to people in charge of fixing deficiencies. With this process, it’s difficult to track the corrective actions, and eventually, facilities may find that the deficiencies weren’t even addressed.



With this duplication task, there are two glaring problems. First, rewriting inspection findings by hand and writing reports manually are both tasks that are taking up more time than needed for safety officers. This also increases the lag time between finding a deficiency and the corrective action, and that spells increased liability. Second, transcription errors in the lab aren’t funny! When deficiencies are recorded but never fixed because of a typo or lost note, that is some extra heavy liability. Decreased safety and increased liability are a double-whammy of a problem.


What Can We Do to Eliminate the Duplicate Transcription Task?

The modern day answer to this problem leverages web-based technology, familiar mobile devices and tailored software. As Nichole Lindgren covers in our webinar, ChemSW’s Safety Inspection Live ™ offers real-time access to safety inspections and the status of all your safety data.

Inspectors can enter findings directly into their mobile device using existing checklists in electronic format. Your employees are, of course, familiar with their own smart phone or tablet, which makes this program user-friendly and easy to adopt. Users don’t need to endure training on a new device so the software is easy to implement immediately.

As a safety manager, you can edit the checklists so that inspectors check exactly what you want them to check. When inspectors enter the data directly into the system, then the corrective actions are assigned immediately. This means no more waiting for the inspector to return to the desk at the end of the day to process the report. This means urgent issues can be addressed within minutes of finding the deficiency. With this system, you can prove that you sent a notification and track corrective actions from start to finish

ChemSW loves safety, and we are happy to promote lab safety on our site, in our blog and at safety conferences all year round. Please check out our site or give us a call for more information about how Safety Inspection Live™ can improve your lab today!

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