Check and double-check

Making checklists is a worthwhile investment of your time since it will help you remember important tasks and avoid costly errors and failures.

Did you ever skip making a list because the task was so easy even a caveman could do it?

Sometimes people think forgetting doesn’t happen to them. But forgetfulness happens no matter how young, old or smart we are. That is why we should make and use checklists.

Checklists are one of many standard practices we use to ensure we consistently achieve a desired result. Just as airplane pilots use preflight checklists, professionals at Fermilab use checklists to make sure that we accomplish a certain activity, that items are in a specific order and that the job is complete and correct.

This also helps avoid costly errors and failures, which generally exceed appraisal costs and may exceed both prevention and appraisal costs depending on severity of the failure.

For example, if someone started a generator without coolant or lubricant, overheating could damage its components. Knowing this, members of the Technical Division follow the recorded sequence of activities needed to operate a generator safely and effectively. Likewise, the Accelerator Division uses a checklist to ensure the startup of the accelerator complex is accomplished properly.

The Fermilab Integrated Quality Assurance Program requires the “appropriate level of work process controls, including which activities require written procedures.”

If you feel an activity needs to be accomplished more consistently or proficiently, consider a checklist and suggest it to your manager. Performing activities better and more affordably is not only a good idea, it is the right thing to do. So always “check and double check.”

J.B. Dawson