Earlier this month, we discussed safety plan templates: their role in a workplace safety culture and what to look for in a template. This overarching document communicates the vision for employee safety at your company. It provides guidance and oversight. But once an overall safety plan is developed, it's time to roll up your sleeves to put the plan into place. At this stage, you must craft more detailed documents like workplace safety checklists and introduce them as integral parts of your company's maintenance and production routines.
Health and safety managers strive to build employee safety concerns into every aspect of workplace culture. An effective way to change cultural beliefs is by creating new habits, and that's where workplace safety checklists come in. Whether they are used in daily operations or annual inspections, their repetition is a valuable tool.
When to Use a Workplace Safety Checklist
Safety checklists should be a part of any process that needs to be repeated. Chances are, you already use checklists for various procedures in your workflow. Consider inserting additional safety items onto those lists. Since workers already use them, any new safety procedures will integrate seamlessly into current workflows. And of course, don't be shy about adding new safety checklists, either as written documents or as workplace safety habits acquired during training (see our PET Scans post for an excellent example).
Employee Safety Checklists: Where to Find Them
If you're not sure where to start, there are plenty of Internet templates to spark some ideas. They range from workplace safety checklists for general inspections to industry-specific lists.
A few starting points:
- Oregon OSHA - Contains a huge variety of workplace safety checklists for different situations.
- The Safety Bus - Scroll down to the Sample Monthly Workplace Inspection Checklists section.
- Workplace-Safety.com - Lots of options here. We really like the Basic Induction Checklist as a tool for training new employees.
- Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety - Here's a basic office inspection checklist that can be altered to suit your needs.
Make Your Workplace Safety Checklist All Yours
Templates are a good starting point, but no one knows your company like you and your team. Make sure you add items specific to your processes. If you work with wooden components, you'll have different considerations than you would if you're in food production. Consider each item on the list and remove any that don't apply to your workspace. Add in extras, if necessary, but try not to make your lists too long. Consider them as living documents, giving yourself permission to adjust as you discover what's most effective for your situation.
Keep it Effective
While habits and routine form the basis of a strong safety culture, we can also get too used to them, leading to complacency. To combat this tendency, consider adding a bit of variety to your lists; just enough to keep people paying attention. Try changing the format every so often, or simply vary the order of the checklist items. This helps prevent workers from skimming the text and making checkmark automatically.
Checklists are a simple and effective tool in a safety manager's arsenal to communicate workplace safety rules and mitigate workplace hazards without coming off as preachy. If going through items on a checklist is just part of the job, it doesn't feel imposed. That increases employee buy-in, which leads to what we really want: improved workplace safety.