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04 October 2021

Virtual Safety Audit


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.

What is a Virtual Safety Audit?

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 co-ordinated to ensure that the essential protocols are carried out, and that the audit is managed and executed safely and effectively. Key considerations include; 

1. Attendance

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.

2. On-site Preparation

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.

3. Inputs

a. Audience involvement is critical therefore it is important to ask questions and engage virtually with those off-site. 

Benefits of Virtual Safety Audits

Virtual Safety Audits deliver a range of benefits, many of which are likely to be maintained post-pandemic. Benefits include:

  • Cost savings from attending remotely - Virtual audits eliminate the costs associated with travelling to the project location (mileage, flights, hotels, meals).
  • Increased stakeholder presence - Eliminating the need to be physically present on the site enables more stakeholders to be actively involved in the day-to-day project safety management. 
  • Provides more detail and analysis of specific issue. i.e. Integrity of fixings and connections.  
  • Future proofing your audit - Most virtual meeting platforms allow the audits to be recorded for future review and reference, as well as documentation and filing. This also allows those who weren’t able to attend in real-time to view the audit afterwards.
  • Social distancing – VSA enables safe and effective auditing of sites while adhering to social distancing guidelines
  • Avoiding travelling to “difficult” locations – Virtual audits enable easier access to remote and difficult to access sites 

Common problems encountered during VSA’s:

  • Issues with technology - Connection issues (WIFI/4G/3G), poor sound or video quality can impede on clarity and make it difficult for the audience to engage with those on site, and conduct the audit in a meaningful way. 
  • Lack of engagement – A lack of engagement, attention and presence from the key stakeholders can diminish the effectiveness of a virtual audit. 
  • Site context is all important - Viewers need to understand the location and existing site constraints. Increased frequency of audits can mitigate this risk
  • Observational/technological limits – The virtual audit is limited by the ability to record and live-stream the site. If, for any reason, the camera can’t see it, neither can the auditor. The ‘bad’ areas of a site can also be hidden more easily than in a live walk-though.
  • Audit approval – Some certification and accreditation bodies still consider virtual safety audits to be invalid, and require traditional on-site audits to be carried out. 
  • Insufficient auditor training – A lack of auditor training or experience can lead to an inability to collect the necessary evidence to accurately assess it. The entire team should be given sufficient training on conducting audits over this modern technology. 
  • New Risks - Construction works involve continuous and often rapid changes on site. Without a regular presence on site and an awareness of what is happening it can be easy to lose track of current risks. Regular virtual audits are needed to assess new and emerging issues.


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 mould. 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.