The Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle is a model for solving problems and implementing solutions in a diligent, systematic way. While it is mostly used as a fundamental part of the lean manufacturing philosophy as an essential prerequisite for continually improving people and processes, it can also be applied in safety context.
First explained by its founder Walter Shewhart and further developed by William Deming, the PDCA cycle became a universal system for manufacturing, management, and other areas. The PDCA cycle (also called Deming cycle) stands for abbreviating the four steps: Plan, Do, Check, and Act.
The Four Steps of the PDCA Cycle
The first step of the PDCA cycle defines the goals and expectations of the activity. Conducting workplace safety inspections is more than mere compliance. The aim is to conduct inspections to promote safety and prevent injuries. If done well, safety inspections can be a crucial part of a company's injury prevention efforts and reassure employees that their workplace is safe.
The facility team is expected to record and document observations and improvements made for greater transparency. Before moving to the next step, these are the questions you need to ask:
- - What should be considered at this stage?
- - How are you going to control the risks associated with the equipment?
- - What equipment is the most suitable from a safety perspective?
- - Is any personal protective equipment required?
- - What are the training requirements?
- - What emergency procedures do you need to put in place?
After you've formed a plan, it is time to take action and develop a comprehensive strategy. It would be best to define who does the inspection, when it will occur, what is to be observed, and where inspection data should be recorded (preferably in an inspection software application).
This means you should:
- - Identify the risks through suitable and sufficient risk assessment.
- - Thoroughly organize by identifying roles and responsibilities, communication procedures, and ensure that competent personnel are in place.
- - Implement the plan, ensure that risks are adequately controlled, correct maintenance procedures, and provide information, training, and supervision to ensure employees are knowledgeable and that procedures are followed.
This is the most crucial stage of the PDCA cycle. It includes reviewing findings once inspections have been completed and data has been collected. Data reviews are vital, as they reveal gaps and help teams identify what actions can be taken to drive improvement. With adequate quality performance monitoring, you can identify problems, understand why those problems arose, and understand what changes must be resolved.
To measure performance, you can introduce the following procedures:
- - Regular or scheduled inspection of the facility and equipment;
- - Job observations for checking the effective operation of workplace precautions;
- - Health surveillance;
- - Environmental monitoring.
This is the last step of the PDCA cycle. It involves brainstorming ways that the inspection process can be simplified and made more reliable. This can include providing additional feedback, sharing observed trends, enacting process improvements, or thinking of new ways to utilize data collected within your inspection software. It is where you evaluate your health and safety performance to determine whether your plan and policy principles are correctly implemented or whether improvements can be made.
The PDCA cycle can be incorporated in our day-to-day management of Health and Safety and on a large scale. It is a useful tool that can help you and your team solve problems more efficiently.