I have worked in companies that have a checklist for all occasions. Saying that there was a checklist guide to make sure that all checklists were filled out may be a slight exaggeration although it wasn’t that far off.
Although the variety and quantity of checklists may not be lacking for many companies, I would suggest that many checklists do not fulfill the purpose of a “good” checklist.
An environmental checklist should provide an easy process to check and sign off on a specific aspect. This could be a weekly general check of a work site to ensure environmental controls are being implemented or checking a high risk environmental aspect.
Checklists should not be onerous or difficult to use. They should be able to be filled out in a few minutes. Also any specific findings should be passed on to the relevant person in a timely manner. This second point is missed too often which means the requirement for completing the checklist is also being missed.
Tips for a “Good” Environmental Checklist
These are the points that I think are required for a good environmental checklist:
- Specific purpose: Do not create a checklist if it is not needed. Each checklist should be developed to check specific environmental requirements or control. Often there is already a checklist for a similar purpose that has been developed and being using. Where possible, combine environmental, health and safety and operational requirements into one checklist.
- Easy to use format and wording: Depending on the requirements for completing the checklist there are different formats and wording that can be used. From a “yes” or “no” form to a purpose made booklet of forms. Watch out for double negatives and phrasing questions that require more than one response when developing your checklist.
- If it is too simple: I have seen too often that checklists become a tick and flick process with the person completing the checklist not actually checking the controls. This is a waste of everyone’s time. Also forms that are being signed off when something has not actually been completed then creates a liability issue. Beware of tick and flick.
- Seek feedback: If you have created a checklist then make sure it is being completed and is fit for purpose. If not, then seek feedback from the person using the checklist and make the appropriate changes.
- Ensure the information in the form is being used: the purpose of the form is to check the implementation and management of controls. If this information is not being used for identifying issues or improvements, then this is a time wasting process.