Checklists Save Lives

| August 10, 2011

Checklists are essential to successful business operations.  Checklists are an integral part of an occupational health and safety management system.  More 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 incentives is the international adoption of a one-page Surgical Safety Checklist developed, promoted and disseminated by the World Health Organization.

Click here to download a copy of this checklist. 


There are numerous uses of checklists in OH&S management systems.  In fact, checklists are one of the most effective way of creating management system procedures and work instructions to meet the OHSAS 18001 requirements. 

Some of the OH&S uses of checklists include –

  1. Inspection checklists – for forklift trucks, fire extinguishers and other safety-critical devices, equipment and supplies.
  2. Plans and permits – for confined space entry, hot work and equipment lockout where the sequence of tasks and adequacy of precautions are critical.
  3. Emergency preparedness – for making sure equipment, materials and personnel will be ready and available when an incident occurs.
  4. Risk assessments – for evaluating the hazards and risks associated with materials, equipment and tasks.
  5. Internal audit protocols – for making sure that OHSMS audits are complete, inclusive and cost-effective.

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 OH&S management systems would benefit from the use of appropriately-designed checklists. 

In my next blog, I will cover the 5 steps you should follow in order to develop good OHSMS checklists.

In the meantime, click here to request a copy of my EHSMS Implementation Checklist.

© ENLAR® Compliance Services, Inc. (2011)

Category: Emergency Preparedness, OHSMS Documentation, Resources & Tools

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