What’s Missing From Your Safety Checklist?


Many safety professionals use them. They are serve to assist and remind even the experts with important tasks. In The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, Atul Gawande provides a compelling case, using medical and aviation examples, that checklists save lives. Some safety pros (including federal safety inspectors) do not use checklists, for a variety of reasons. After reading this book, I believe there is a place in all EHS work for checklists.

Here are a few things missing from most safety checklists. Are they missing from yours?

  1. Find someone doing something right and thank them. Most checklists are a list of items or processes to look at. Are you noting compliance and moving on or taking the time to reinforce good practices?
  2. What’s not your job? For example, if your primary duties are safety related and not industrial hygiene, are you completely ignoring IH concerns or instead bringing the issues to senior management? Remember that having a great machine guarding program doesn’t matter if your workers die of fume inhalation.
  3. Asterisks. Every day (OK, every hour) I run into something I don’t know enough about so I put an asterisk next to it. I use asterisks on all of my checklists and notes to remind me to look something up.

How do you use checklists? If you don’t use them, why not?

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