Thought Leadership

Imagine a world without checklists

August 17, 2011
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Checklists are essential to successful business operations. Checklists are an integral part of an occupational health and safety management system. Morechecklist importantly, checklists save lives.

 This result is most obvious in medicine where the use of surgical checklists has saved thousands of lives and untold suffering. The importance of checklists in medicine was highlighted in a 2007 article in the New Yorker Magazine, The Checklist.”

 The most dramatic of these tools is the international adoption of a one-page Surgical Safety Checklist developed, promoted and disseminated by the World Health Organization.

 There are numerous uses of checklists in occupational health and safety management systems. In fact, checklists are one of the most effective ways of creating management system procedures and work instructions to meet the OHSAS 18001 requirements. 

 Some of the OHS uses of checklists include:

 Inspection checklists – for forklift trucks, fire extinguishers and other safety critical devices, equipment and supplies.

 Internal audit protocols – for making sure that OHSMS audits are complete, inclusive and cost-effective.

 Plans and permits – for confined space entry, hot work and equipment lockout where the sequence of tasks and adequacy of precautions are critical.

 Emergency preparedness – for making sure equipment, materials and personnel will be ready and available when an incident occurs.

 Risk assessments – for evaluating the hazards and risks associated with materials, equipment and tasks.

 As regulations, activities and organizations become more complex, checklists become increasingly important for ensuring that nothing is missed.  This is why pilot checklists were developed in aviation in the 1930s. 

 This is why surgical checklists are being aggressively promoted in medicine today.  This is why most occupational health and safety management systems would benefit from the use of appropriately-designed checklists. 

 This article originally appeared on Thea’s blog, OHSAS 18001 Expert http://ohsas18001expert.comThea is one of the country’s leading authorities on occupational health and safety management systems.

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