What is a pre start check?
So, what is a pre start check?
Pre start checks are pretty much exactly what they sound like, they are checks made to something - most often a piece of plant, equipment or machinery - prior to that thing being started or used; or checks made prior to doing something specific - like a days work or specific hazardous activity.
Pre starts often involve routine inspections conducted by the machine or equipment operator. Because of this, pre starts often take the form of a pre start checklist or inspection form.
Pre start checks are most common in heavy industries like construction, oil and gas, mining and manufacturing. They are also an everyday occurrence across all walks of life, with people performing basic and intuitive checks before they perform many activities and tasks.
Why are pre start checks important?
After you have answered your initial question of what is a pre start check - the natural next question is often well then why are they important?
The most obvious reason for why they are important is for human safety. Heavy machinery or equipment which malfunctions is not just a project or financial risk, it can result in serious injury or death to people. Pre starts are one of the most relied upon and basic safety steps for almost any company who engages with dangerous equipment or activities. Pre starts protect the operator as well as other people on site, on the factory floor etc.
The less known and less focused on benefit of pre start checks are the financial gains which companies and projects get from doing good pre starts regularly. Pre starts enable companies to catch small/minor issues before they snowball into bigger issues. Catching minor issues which take minutes or hours to repair also minimises the chance of large scale repairs and downtime, which has a very real cost in terms or production and productivity.
Pre starts are crucial for safety and an important part of good asset and equipment management.
What does a pre start look like?
While some companies and operators perform intuitive pre starts, it's really important for a company to have a standardised and systematic approach to performing pre starts - which typically involves codifying what needs to be checked off and inspected for the object at hand.
A simple checklist can ensure that an operator or whoever is conducting a pre start does it in a standardised and comprehensive manner, further reducing the likelihood of injury or issue.
The exact layout and contents of a pre start are of course equipment or activity specific, with a vehicle pre start likely being different to a stationary machine pre start. But many of the principles are the same, and you probably only need to make a few tweaks to your master pre start template to adapt it to your different pieces of equipment or processes.
The below example gives you a good idea of the depth of a good pre start, and the layout which makes it relatively easy to complete and then interpret later.
Use and customise this pre start framework for your free.
How to streamline and improve safety compliance for your pre starts
Most companies think about safety and pre starts with good intentions, and most don't need to ask what is a pre start check because they fully understand the need to have and maintain good pre start practices.
But companies, operators and workers get busy - and the admin burden and time it takes to conduct them compound to create an environment whereby pre starts can get overlooked of forgotten.
Because of these factors, and because of the increasing importance of workplace safety, many companies have turned to software and dedicated pre start apps for help.
These systems enable companies to streamline how they manage pre starts from start to finish - increasing the likelihood of them getting done properly and improving the quality and security of pre start record keeping.
The most important benefit of these digital tools is that they improve access to the procedures and documents behind pre starts.
In the past, a machine operator may have a stack of pre start forms sitting in their piece of plant or in the office, or they may only have a word doc which they fill out after the days work or during lunch. But when it's on a tablet or mobile, it's always available and it's always the latest version.
On the administration side, the machine operator would have had to scan or upload the completed pre start and then email or share it with the office when using paper or PDF. As you can imagine, this resulted in a high percentage of pre starts going missing or being illegible, which can be extremely costly in the event of an accident or audit.
With new systems, as soon as an operator completes their pre start check it is synced to a central document management system. Here, a safety manager or administrator can quickly see and find any record.
Pre starts are a necessary part of managing assets, people and industrial projects - and you can make sure that they get the attention and care they deserve using a smarter template or solution.
While you cam here to answer your question, what is a pre start? You are leaving with more context and some templates which can help you implement and maintain the type of pre start program which is guaranteed to reduce incidents and major events.