Virtual inspections in a socially-distant Washington

Like many state agencies, we had to make some changes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly all of our 1,400 employees have been working remotely since March, but we’re still protecting human health and the environment. In fact, thanks to some outside-the-box thinking, we’re now conducting virtual inspections of our regulated communities.

Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction program (HWTR) is trying a new method of inspection that allows us to evaluate how businesses in Washington are meeting their regulatory requirements while minimizing COVID risks to inspectors and business workers. Our first pilot took place in June, utilizing technologies such as video conferencing with mobile devices and “virtually” put inspectors inside a regulated business. The result was a successful inspection that satisfied both the regulated business and Ecology.

Listen to HWTR’s Matt Quarterman and Lisa Perle talk about how the new approach works: