In all organizations, a safety walk by a designated person ensures risks are reduced. Since risks are many, keeping track of it all in your head becomes difficult. If you have a checklist handy, things can be marked off, such as keeping aisles clear, or ensuring there are no nails sticking out of boards. In some industries, a safety walk checklist is not just a recommendation, but is mandatory by law.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has developed checklists for various industries and facilities, such as for an emergency public shelter. For a shelter, the checklist includes emergency lighting, potable water and clean cots. Each list is customized to the needs of the specific site. In many industries, a walk-through is done at the beginning of every shift. In some industries, safety walks may have to be done two or three times per shift. If OSHA requires a safety checklist, it is not a recommendation, but a law. Companies that violate the law may be subject to prosecution.
In the aviation industry, safety walk checklists are a normal part of operations. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a pilot must ensure the airworthiness of the aircraft before takeoff. The responsible party does a walk-around of the airplane, with a safety checklist in hand. He looks for anything that is out of the ordinary. The Michigan Department of Labor states that this duty is normally carried out by the flight engineer, who reports his findings to the captain. For a large airplane such as a passenger jet, the checklist may be several pages long.
Prior to any surgery being performed, the World Health Organization recommends hospitals use a safety checklist to ensure readiness for a variety of scenarios. The checklist includes checking if the patient has any allergies, and noting the amount of estimated blood needed. The WHO states its recommended checklist is not comprehensive, and recommends each hospital write up a in-depth list for its operating rooms.
Checklists can be useful in the home as well as on the job. The Center for Disease Control suggests conducting safety and preparedness checks at home regularly. Some things on the list include no electrical hazards, well-lit stairs at night, and functioning fire alarms. It is also recommended for each household to have an exit plan in case of a fire. Taking a proactive approach, and correcting problems before accidents occur, can minimize or eliminate risk.
- United States Department of Labor: Occupational safety and Health Administration: Mass Care Shelter: Health and Safety Walk Through
- State Of Michigan: Jobs and Careers Portal: Flight Engineer
- National Archives and Records Administration: Aeronautics and Space
- World Health Organization: Surgical Safety Checklist
- Center for Disease Control: Home Safety Checklists
- Photo Credit Alistair Berg/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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