The Building Blocks of a Professional Safety Inspection Report
We all know that drafting safety inspection reports can be a very time-consuming administrative activity: taking notes on site together with pictures, and when you’re back at to office, you still need to write out the notes in Word, transfer the pictures from your phone or tablet to your pc and insert them in the Word report (if you still remember which pictures belong to which items of which project), try to get the layout right etc.
This can be very time consuming and frustrating!
Yet, doing frequent safety inspections and sending clear safety reports is essential.
When you make frequent safety inspections and reports a priority, you’ll have fewer incidents which will have a significant impact on the wellbeing of your workers and on your ROI.
In this article, we’ll focus on how to structure safety inspection reports and what information to include in it.
Use a checklist for your safety reports
If you’re looking for a foolproof method for any repetitive multi-step process, you should use a checklist.
Checklists reduce the risk of mistakes while increasing the likelihood everything will get documented.
This frees up your mental space because you won’t need to think about what should still be reviewed.
Creating safety reports is a process that’s repeated every day/week/month. To make sure that every single inspection covers all elements that need to be reviewed and that nothing is overseen, a checklist can be an essential tool.
Without using a checklist, our human brain will easily forget things.
When using a checklist you will see exactly which items have already been reviewed and you can resume the site inspection from there.
During your site inspections, you can review the checklist, and complete the items to review with text and pictures. The result of such a site inspection is a safety inspection report that you can send to all parties involved.
What should go into your safety checklist?
A safety checklist should include the most common items that need to be reviewed when doing a safety inspection, covering the following topics for example:
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Has the correct gear been distributed to all workers? Is each piece of equipment in good repair? Are protective helmets (hard hats) worn?
- Tools and equipment: Are they in proper working order? Are people using the right tool for the job?
- Fall protection methods: Is fall protection in use? Is it properly set up? Protection by protected guardrails or safety nets?
- Protective devices and signs: Are welders surrounded by a curtain to protect others? Are signs easy to read and warnings clear?
- Electrical concerns: Are electrical cords safe, and kept off the floor? Is there proper lighting? Is temporary electricity safely installed?
- Scaffolding: Are all connections secure? Is scaffolding tied to the structure? Are all connections secure?
- General: Are the exits cleared of obstructions and accessible? Is the site clean and orderly?
- Fire: Firefighting equipment available?
This screenshot shows the checklist part of a sample safety report, with a couple of checklist items that have been completed with text, pictures, and assignees.
Other elements that go into safety reports
Next to the actual checklist, it’s helpful to include other elements into the reports to make the report clear, well structured and—in the worst-case scenario—admissible in court.
Information to be included in the header of the safety report:
- Company name
- Official address and contact details
2. Report title
The title of the report should be short and clear, so everyone knows immediately what it’s about.
Example: “Safety report for Project ABC”
3. Project details
When someone gets your safety report, they’ll want to know which project it is about, without having to spend time figuring it out. Often the report will also be sent to the client, and it shows courtesy and respect by putting their name and project description clearly at the beginning of the report.
Things to include:
- Name of the project and customer
- Full address of the project
4. Date and time of the site inspection
Note the exact date and time of the safety inspection. This date can be pivotal in case of discussions or disputes.
5. People present
Include a list of the people that are present on the site at the time of the site inspection.
Also, include a distribution column that shows to whom the safety report has been distributed.
This is crucial: protect yourself from possible lawsuits. Including some standard boilerplate language in each safety site report might save you lots of trouble, time and money sooner or later.
If you don’t know where to start, here is a standard text that you could use:
“ Information contained in this Safety Report by [firm name] has been prepared to the best of our knowledge according to observable conditions at the site. This information will be approved record unless written notice to the contrary is received within seven (7) calendar days of the issue date of this document. Written corrections shall be reported to [observer] at [firm name]. Oral rebuttals will not be accepted.”
In the footer, mention the report creator name or email, and page numbers.
To avoid uncomfortable “he said/she said” situations later, it’s a best practice to have all parties involved sign off on the safety report.
Best practices for safety reports
Here are 3 best practices on making safety reports – as stated in our ultimate guide for construction safety inspections:
- Provide sufficient detail: State exactly what has been detected and accurately identify its location, together with pictures.
- Document items and file reports as early as possible: Memories can fade quickly. The shorter the time frame between events and notation, the more accurate the reports will be. Using an app will help you accomplish this: review the checklist on site and complete with pictures and notes, the inspection report will be ready and available when you leave the job site.
- Readability: Keep it simple, use common language, and include enough pictures. Don’t use specialist terms, but don’t be too prosaic, either. Just stick to a concise and clear description of the facts so anyone can read and understand the reports. Also remember that often people don’t read long texts, but they will look at pictures. As the old adage goes, a picture says more than a 1000 words, so make sure to include enough pictures.
Draft your safety inspection reports with an app, on-site
We all know that drafting safety inspection reports is important. But spending an hour or more to compile a report complete with pictures in Word? Nobody wants to do that.
Luckily today’s technology can help you make this process a lot easier.
With apps like ArchiSnapper you can use your phone or tablet to fill in the safety report immediately on site instead of having to do it at the end-of-day from your laptop:
- Fill in the project status and add project pictures
- Review your safety checklist, and complete the checklist items with:
- status (OK, NOK, …)
- pictures and sketches
- notes => pro tip: try the voice-to-text functionality
- location information
When you’re done, a beautiful PDF report will automatically be available, ready for distribution to all parties involved.
An app like ArchiSnapper will take you no effort or time to create safety inspections reports. Not only will it help you save hours of time, it will also help you make a positive impression on the other parties (customer, contractors) when they receive a professional and complete safety report in a timely manner.
It’s time to put down that old-fashioned tape recorder and notepad. Clearly, there is a better way :)
Want to check out a sample safety site report created with ArchiSnapper? Download a sample safety inspection report list.