How to Handle Shift Handovers Efficiently

How to Handle Shift Handovers Efficiently

18th October 2016

Everybody makes mistakes, that’s a fact of life.  I do, you do, we all do – however much we try to do our best and avoid messing up.  Most of the time our mistakes are small and have little impact.  However, mistakes in work are more serious and could have a negative effect on your job.  Working in the construction industry is a pretty risky job, that’s why we have such stringent health and safety regulations.  However, mistakes still happen and a mistake made while working in the building game could have serious consequences for many people.

Research shows that people are more likely to make a mistake when they are tired, under pressure time wise or exposed to interruptions and distractions, especially when carrying out boring, familiar tasks.  The main aim of a shift handover is to ensure that reliable and accurate task-relevant information is communicated effectively across shift changes to facilitate a steady and safe flow of work.

Unless you have an effective shift handover policy in place, there is a high risk of assumption, especially with long term staff members.  Workspaces that are shared by more than one person requires a high level of communication and coordination to ensure safety.

Shift handover is a time of flux, with some workers tired at the end of their work and eager to get home while others are just gearing up to start their shifts.  This is a time when the risk of making a mistake is quite high so here are some tips for ensuring an effective and safe shift handover.

An effective shift handover should be:

  • A two way procedures, with both parties taking joint responsibility
  • Conducted on a face to face basis
  • Conducted using both written and verbal information
  • Based on an analysis of all the information needs of incoming staff/teams
  • Given the necessary amount of time and resources

To ensure a safe handover, employers should:

  • Identify handovers with an increased risk
  • Emphasize the importance of shift handover
  • Develop employees’ communications skills
  • Provide well-thought out procedures for shift handover
  • Plan for any maintenance work to be completed within one shift wherever possible

If you employ shift workers and don’t have a written Shift Handover Policy and Procedure, then now is the ideal time to put one together.  You can use the information listed above as a guideline and write a document that is relevant to your company.  Don’t forget to involve the end-users both when designing the policy and procedures and when considering implementing any changes.

Make sure that you provide your employees with any support equipment necessary for shift handovers, including logs, computer displays, checklists and any other items that you thing they will need to ensure a smooth handover.  Having the correct policy and procedures in place is a vital aspect of ensuring health and safety at work, especially in the construction industry.