Although many people consider checklists to be both dehumanizing and mundane, I believe they should play a prominent role in both your post orders and your emergency control procedures. Many people value the benefits of having checklists in their personal lives, but very few implement them in their business lives.
The Importance of Checklists
Let me start off by saying that checklists can save lives. For proof I offer you a case study on Dr. Peter Pronovost. Dr. Pronovost created the grand daddy of all checklists for the John Hopkins University School of Medicine. While working at the hospital, Dr. Pronovost had become frustrated with the infections that many of the patients were developing from their intravenous (IV) lines. As a result of that frustration, Dr. Pronovost created a simple 5 step checklist. The checklist gave very straight forward advice to the hospital staff: Wash your hands before inserting an IV, the patient’s skin should be cleaned prior to the IV being inserted, etc., etc. As you can see, the list was nothing revolutionary. But the results on the other hand, were very surprising. 18 months after instituting the checklists IV infections were virtually eliminated which saved the hospital nearly $175 million…not to mention the 1,500 lives that were saved. I repeat “Checklists can save lives!” Now that we have established the viability of checklists in the workplace, let’s consider how to implement them at your company.
Checklists and Your Post Orders
As we all know, post orders are critical to your security officers’ success at your clients’ facilities. It is generally accepted that post orders should be as concise as possible, be simply written, and written at the lowest readability possible. Because the time that it takes to read instructions is directly related to the ability to comprehend, the longer is takes to read the post orders the more likely they won’t be understood or remembered.
So rather than putting together a 100-page post order manual that no one will read or understand, write your post orders as simple checklists. Plainly outline, the who, what, when, where, why, and how for each officer for each shift. A more complete and detailed copy of the post orders can be retained by supervisory personnel if necessary.
Checklists and Emergency & Incident Management
Although post orders are important for your officers’ success, your emergency control procedures are critical in ensuring your officers’ and clients’ safety, health, and well-being. Let’s consider the typical makeup of a security manual’s emergency control procedures:
- On-site organization
- Security and safety interface plan
- Natural disasters
- Bomb threats
- Civil or internal disorders
- Labor disputes and disturbances
- Evacuation plans and actions
Imagine how complex the instructions for any of these sections can be. Then imagine trying to read or remember any of them during an actual incident. In fact, there was a story in the news recently about a security officer that left his post at an airport during a fire alarm because he didn’t know what to do. Although there is a good chance that he was trained to respond to such emergencies, providing him with an easily referenced checklist would have been ideal. This line of thinking is also the reason that we developed the Incident Checklist feature for our Security Guard Reporting App.
Whatever your security guard company considers important, put it in a checklist. But more importantly, creating checklists for your post orders and incident procedures will save time, brain power, and maybe even a life.
By Courtney Sparkman