Do you consider workplace checklists an important part of ensuring all necessary safe work procedures are consistently followed? Or do you consider a checklist a slow, tedious, and largely unnecessary procedure for work you already know how to do?
Here are two interesting accounts where checklists have been used to great effect. One is a matter of history that changed an industry, and the other occurred much more recently, demonstrating that there can be human resistance to following demonstrably better procedures.
Boeing B-17 and the First Checklist
On a B-17 test flight, in 1935, the aircraft stalled on takeoff because the elevator lock was accidentally left on, and pitch control didn’t work. Three men were injured, and two later died.
Because this new airplane was much more complicated to fly, it was determined that even experienced pilots would need a checklist. Instead of relying on memory every time, a checklist would ensure that all necessary steps were completed to keep the airplane safely in the air. Because of this simple, new process, Boeing was able to get the government to mass produce the B-17, and it went on to be a very successful asset for the United States in World War II.
Believe it or not, Boeing’s checklist is considered the first. Certainly, checklists are a very common practice in aviation today, where a focus on safety requires numerous variables to be checked before every flight. There are more than 25,000 daily commercial flights in the U.S. each day.
Hospital Checklist Slashes Infection Rates
In 2003, Dr. Peter J. Pronovost established a simple, five-step checklist to be followed every time a common catheter (central venous catheter) was inserted at 108 intensive-care units in Michigan. Over 18 months, catheter-related infection rates dropped from 4% to 0, saving 1,500 lives and nearly $200 million.
As you can see, the checklist is as simple as it gets:
Some reasons people resist using checklists include:
So, looking at these two examples, can you see where workplace safety can benefit from following a checklist? Anywhere a series of steps has to be followed correctly every time, a checklist can be implemented to make sure everything has been covered and nothing is missed.
Here are a few places where creating a checklist may be helpful:
Originally from Andrew Hobbs Friday 1 December, 2017
LET’S be honest. When it comes to safety management in the workplace, there’s a tonne of paperwork – ranging from contractor records to audits and incident reports.
For many companies, a safety management software package is the best management option, providing easy access to the most current version of a document, making it easier to create audit checklists and report against them and even offering secure logging and monitoring of worker injuries and treatment options.
When it goes right, this should mean more efficient management all around. But there are many different products out there, and choosing the right package can be challenging.
Here are 7 key factors you should consider before selecting a software package:
1: Do you want the data loaded in one computer or do you want a cloud-based solution?
Cloud-based technologies allow users to access the data from wherever there is an internet connection – meaning they can make changes while on the move. For example, some companies use mobile devices to conduct audits while in in the field.
2: How would you like the program to be set up?
Today, many software packages offer a base level system to which you can add optional extras.
These might include issuing scannable QR codes which you could print onto an employee’s identity card or on a piece of equipment which you could scan to quickly review any relevant information.
Other modules might focus on training – mapping what training might be needed at a certain time, or monitoring which step of a workplace procedure the company was up to in a particular area.
Investing in a program that offers these optional extras could work out cheaper, if it prevents you from buying software you will not use or do not need.
However, some might prefer to buy an all-encompassing program – potentially designed with one industry in mind.
3: How many people will access the system?
The price of software packages can be influenced by the number of people who are authorised to access the system – though not all are designed this way.
4: Is the system easy to understand and use?
If a system is too complicated to use, there is a risk that it won’t be. You may wish to consider the program’s user interface, whether it creates prompts for users and whether mobile devices can access it.
5: Will the software create a truly permanent record?
Because of your legal obligation to keep your workplace health and safety records for future reference, you must be able to retrieve your data even if you have stopped using the software in question.
Check that the software licence arrangement allows you to do this, and that the package creates legible, identifiable records of every document created or altered, and when any alterations took place.
6: Will you have access to IT support?
Does the software package have clear user guides or manuals – or are you able to submit questions to a helpdesk? Is the IT support only during set-up of the software, or is it ongoing?
7: Are there any hidden costs?
Computer software often comes with follow-up costs which can add up. Aside from purchasing additional licences for other users, this can also include costs for upgrades, data retrieval and costs of integrating with your existing software – not to mention training costs.
It’s also a good idea to find out whether you will be locked in for a period of time with the software provider under a contract.