This Article Re-Printed with Permission of the Author, Jeff Seifert, COO of StreamLinx, which owns the premier Light Auditing App "SnapCount"....!
“Safety First!” is an old motto, but it still rings true to experienced lighting and
electrical auditors: You simply can’t afford to get hurt on the job.
Being safe during an electrical audit helps preserve your client relationships,
maximizes your pro¹t and most importantly, keeps you injury-free so you can
continue working, growing your business and enjoying life.
Sounds great … but how do you optimize your safety processes when every job
is in a different setting?
Electrical audits are unique in that they can occur in nearly every work
environment: manufacturing plants, schools, offices, warehouses, hospitals,
government buildings, retail spaces and even parking garages. Taking the time
to be aware of the dangers posed by each setting and preparing to handle
them is vital to your audit strategy.
We spoke with Bob Oppermann of Accurate Auditors LLC, a veteran of
hundreds of electrical audits, about how he and his team stay safe while
performing efficient, detailed audits.
“The greatest safety hazard that professional auditors face is falling,”
Oppermann told us. “Typically speaking, we are always looking up as we walk
around a facility. This can be quite dangerous.”
Oppermann said he has learned to heighten his peripheral vision as he moves
through a space with his eyes directed upward. But the most valuable safety tip
he can offer is this: “Be aware of your environment and take the proper PPE
[personal protective equipment].”
Different auditing locations contain different safety challenges.
* Manufacturing or extraction settings can be noisy and distracting. PPE such
as hard-toed shoes, re¼ective vests, safety glasses, and hard hats are
typically mandatory for all site visitors including contractors.
* Office settings are less overtly perilous, but just to be safe, Oppermann
said, “I will often wear a reflective vest so that people can see me better. It
also gives me credibility, as I look more ‘official.’”
* Distribution centers can be particularly treacherous if you're not paying
attention. Forklift operators get paid partially based on the quantity (and
accuracy) of the products they pick, Oppermann pointed out, “You don’t
want to get in their way!” Walking around a corner can be particularly
hazardous, so stay alert in these areas. According to the National Safety
Council, forklift incidents caused 78 work-related deaths and 7,290 nonfatal
injuries involving days away from work in 2020.
Communication Is a Key Safety Step
“Clear communication is the best way to avoid safety issues while you’re
performing a lighting audit,” Oppermann said. “It’s important to always let
people know why you are there.”
Often, a facilities team member will send out an email blast alerting workers that
an electrical auditor will be on-site, but these emails often go overlooked or
forgotten. “It’s imperative to let people know as you walk into a room that you’re
there to ‘count lights’ so to speak,” Oppermann advised. “When people know
you’re there, and why, they tend to stay out of your way.”
Unfortunately, a heads-up to employees isn’t enough in some environments,
especially where the general public is involved.
“Grocery stores seem to be the worst,” Oppermann said. “Twice, I have been
bumped while standing on top of an eight-foot ladder. In each case, the person
who bumped me acted as if it were my fault for setting the ladder in their way.”
Now when he sets up his ladders, Oppermann is sure to place four bright
orange cones around the ladder.
(An eight-foot fall from a ladder is nothing to sco· at. The U.S. Occupational
Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that workers who are 6 feet or
more above lower levels are at risk for severe injury or death if they fall.)
What To Do If an Accident Occurs
If an accident does occur while performing an electrical audit, your first concern
should be for yourself or your injured team member. After tending to the injured
party, the next steps will depend on your company’s policies and those of your
client. Even if the injury appears minor, it’s still worth having a medical
professional examine it in case paperwork is needed later.
“Certainly, if there is an injury to the auditor, then going to the hospital and filing
a full report is appropriate,” Oppermann said. “I have one client that wants a full
report filled out if any skin is broken.”
The Business Case for Safe Electrical Audits
According to OSHA, work-related deaths and injuries cost the nation,
employers, and individuals a collective $171 billion in 2019. Taking the proper
safety measures not only reduces injuries signi¹cantly but the costs associated
with injuries, including workers’ compensation payments, medical expenses,
and lost productivity. “In addition,” says OSHA, “employers often ¹nd that
process and other changes made to improve workplace safety and health may
result in signi¹cant improvements to their organization's productivity and
Oppermann has experienced this first-hand.
He once took a fall while auditing a grocery store. It was his third store of the
day, and he dropped his tablet in the process. He had yet to sync the data from
Luckily, the tablet only su·ered damage to its glass lens (and Oppermann
escaped with some pain but no broken bones).
“If the tablet had been rendered useless, the repercussions would’ve been very
expensive,” Oppermann told us. “First of all, I would have had to replace the
tablet. Second, I would have had to re-download my apps. This could have
taken a day or two, especially if it happened on a weekend. Third, and perhaps
even more important, I would have had to go back to the three stores and reaudit
Failing to complete your audits due to safety issues can have significant
financial repercussions for your business.
“If you’re unable to complete the audit, then the customer doesn’t get their
information in a timely manner,” Oppermann said. “That could result in the
auditor only getting partially paid, if at all. It could also stain the relationship
between the end-user and the auditor’s client, resulting in the client losing the
So, be safe out there! Your business, your reputation, and your health depend on it.