As Texas resumes inspections, how does the pandemic hiatus affect safety?

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — From March 15 to June 9, the state’s Department of Licensing and Regulation did zero inspections in certain industries.

That same time period last year?

9,348 inspections.

“Since salons, barbershops, massage establishments were not open, there was no need for inspections,” TLDR spokeswoman Tela Mange told KXAN.

But what about inspecting boilers and elevators? The agency suspended these inspections earlier in the pandemic.

“TDLR’s contact information is required to be posted in all elevators and next to boilers,” she said. “If a consumer contacted us with concerns that an elevator or boiler was unsafe, TDLR staff was available to investigate.”

While TLDR did not receive any reports of boiler or elevator incidents, there’s still risk involved with missing inspections in general.

John Dony is with the National Safety Council. He said inspections are meant to regularly check for wear and tear and maintenance.

“You really want to be looking at those to understand where your next incident might occur,” Dony said.

Moreover, things remaining dormant also poses an issue. For example, metal can rust when exposed to air or moisture.

“When things like that fail, they tend to fail fairly catastrophically,” Dony said. “When they’re not being done, you’re putting a significant segment at risk.”

As of June 10, TLDR has resumed inspections and investigations in a limited capacity.

But, Dony also cautions returning employers — and employees — as not being used to their workplace environment because they haven’t been there in three months.

For example, Dony cited a gas leak at a plant in India that killed 11 people. The leak occurred because of materials in the plant “stored for a long period of time.

“You’re open to a lot of risks,” he said.

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