Effective communication is important in all organisations when a task and its associated responsibilities are handed over to another person or work team. This can occur at shift changeover, between shift and day workers, or between different functions of an organisation within a shift e.g. operations and maintenance.
The goal of handover is the accurate reliable communication of task-relevant information across shift changes or between teams thereby ensuring continuity of safe and effective working. Effective handover consists of three elements:
Many accidents have occurred because of failure of communication at shift handover, the majority of these involved planned maintenance work. In the 1983 Sellafield Beach Incident, highly radioactive waste liquor was accidentally discharged to sea, due to a failure of communication between shifts. The Cullen Report concluded that one of the many factors that contributed to the Piper Alpha disaster was failure of information transmission at shift handover.
To ensure safe handover, organisations should:
Shift handover should be:
Improvements should also be made by:
Although several of these documents are about the specific communication issue of achieving an accurate, safe shift handover, many of the principles are relevant to other types of safety-critical communications.