Ten Cautions About Safety Checklists

A checklist for checking your use of checklists 🙂

imageTen Cautions About Safety Checklists

See also: Making Objects Safe or People Safe (Dr Rob Long), Risk is About People, not just Objects (Rob Sams)

Whilst value of checklists is well documented by Gawande (The Checklist Manifesto) and others, there is rarely mention by proponents of the downside of checklists.

Here are ten quick considerations.

1. Checklists should be made ‘fit’ for humans not humans ‘fit’ for checklists.

2. Checklists are not an end in themselves, rather just another help for humans.

3. The love of checklists often generates more checklists.

4. A checklist without reflection, thinking and conversation is pretty useless.

5. Checklists neither manage people or behaviour.

6. Checklist fatigue is the generator of ‘tick and flick’.

7. The solution to a failed checklist is not another checklist of the checklist. (This is the olde SWMS to check SWMS nonsense)

8. Desensitization to checklists is a human condition.

9. For every checklist there is an equal and opposite by-product.

10. The ‘sunk cost’ for a checklist means it becomes enshrined as an immovable religious document.

There are many more factors one needs to consider when using checklists, most importantly, is to stop focusing on checklists and reorient the conversation to the purpose of the checklist. If you can’t do a risk assessment or discuss a safe working method without a checklist then I think there really is a problem.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

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