04 October 2021
The impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in rapid adoption of innovative technologies to overcome challenges, such as widespread travel restrictions. At the early stages of the pandemic, Linesight introduced Virtual Safety Audits, (VSA) as an effective way for health and safety inspectors to continue to monitor implementation of safety procedures onsite.
As the name implies, a VSA is a simulated reality of a construction site, created by live video footage. It allows a ‘host’ inspector on-site to connect remotely with the project stakeholders via video conference and carry out a walk-through inspection of the entire project in real time.
To effectively carry out a VSI the only requirements needed are internet access, a device with a webcam, and a streaming platform. A range of low-tech platforms can be used such as Zoom or Skype, as well as dedicated software options which are becoming more prominent on the market.
While a VSI can be a quicker and more cost-efficient method, it needs to be carefully planned and coordinated to ensure that the essential protocols are carried out, and that the audit is managed and executed safely and effectively. Key considerations include;
a. The key project stakeholders need to be identified and invited well in advance of the inspection.
b. Every attendee, on-site and virtually, should have a role, which has been agreed and communicated in advance.
a. A clear understanding of the site location and layout is essential.
b. In preparation for the inspection a planned route should be agreed upon, ensuring that all relevant site areas are included.
c. A project map should be created and displayed on screen, with the General Contractor (GC) Project Lead available to discuss the current scope of works for that day
d. On-site workers need to be advised of the audit in advance.
a. Audience involvement is critical therefore it is important to ask questions and engage virtually with those off-site.
Virtual Safety Audits deliver a range of benefits, many of which are likely to be maintained post-pandemic. Benefits include:
As with everything, there are both benefits and risks to Virtual Safety Auditing. Through necessity, many companies around the world are now adapting to modern technologies and practices in their workplaces and Virtual Safety Audits fit the mold. While traditional on-site audits are still likely to continue, VSA has proved to be a cost-effective and collaborative tool that has enabled business continuity throughout the pandemic and going forward we anticipate that a blended approach of traditional on-site audits and virtual audits will be the preferred approach in a post pandemic world.