Benefits of Pre-Start Checklists

Pre-Start Checklist

In a vehicle or equipment pre-start inspection, the operator uses a checklist to perform a standardised routine inspection prior to using the vehicle or equipment. A pre-start checklist normally covers the exterior and interior condition of the vehicle or equipment as well as operational aspects including mechanical and electrical systems, fluid levels and safety devices such as alarms, fire extinguishers and first-aid kits. The intent of a pre-start checklist inspection is to identify defects and safety hazards prior to operation.

Safety Benefits of Pre-Start Checklists

When heavy vehicles and their associated equipment or mobile plant are not maintained they have the potential to cause serious injury or, in severe cases, death. Therefore, the main aim of a pre-start checklist inspection is to ensure a vehicle or piece of equipment is safe to use. For many businesses, vehicle and equipment pre-start checklist inspections form the foundation of both their vehicle fleet and equipment maintenance schedule and their workplace safety policy. This is because unsafe conditions identified through pre-start checklist inspections can be assessed for potential hazards and risks, and control measures can be put in place to reduce the likelihood of equipment failure or personal injury. In this way, pre-start checklist inspections also help promote a strong culture of workplace safety.

Financial Benefits of Pre-Start Checklists 

Although the main objective of a pre-start checklist inspection is safety, conducting regular vehicle and equipment pre-start checks has financial benefits. By identifying minor issues before using a vehicle or piece of equipment, relatively quick and inexpensive repairs can be made before minor issues turn into major problems that are expensive to fix and cause unexpected downtime. Further, as minor issues can often be fixed on-site, pre-start checklist inspections can also help prevent expensive costs associated with on-road or off-site breakdowns such as hefty call-out fees, towing fees or shipping costs for replacement parts sent to a remote location. In short, a pre-start checklist inspection will help keep your vehicles and equipment well maintained and prevent financial losses associated with unexpected breakdowns and unplanned downtimes.

Paper Versus Digital Pre-Start Checklists

Paper vehicle and equipment pre-start checklists, although proven and crucial in industries such as aviation, are lacking in other industries such as trucking, civil engineering, mining and construction. To successfully use paper pre-start checklists, administrative processes need to be robust. These processes normally include collecting and reviewing completed checklists; reporting defects, damages and faults to maintenance personnel; manually tracking the progress of maintenance and repair jobs; and archiving paperwork. Although efficient, using paper-based pre-start checklist can be time-consuming. Further, the efficiency of a paper-based pre-start checklist system can be decreased by late, lost or incomplete checklists or by checklists that are hard to read.

When using digital vehicle and equipment pre-start checklists, administrative processes such as the delivery of completed checklists, reporting of defects, damages and faults and checklist archiving are automated. Further, the progress of maintenance and repair jobs can be tracked electronically, and automatic notifications let you know when maintenance and repair jobs are finished. Daily reports can also be generated, making it easy to find out who has submitted pre-start checklists over a given time period.

Other beneficial features of digital vehicle and equipment pre-start checklists include geo- and time-stamping, the ability to add images for more detailed reporting and the use of digital signatures or unique user names and passwords for user accountability when completed pre-start checklists are submitted.

Finally, digital vehicle and equipment pre-start checklists are paperless. This can reduce the cost of printing and paper, the amount of time spent on completing paperwork and other administrative costs by up to 65%.


Pre-start checklist inspections help ensure vehicles and equipment are safe to use. Safety benefits of vehicle and equipment pre-start checklist inspections include:

  • identification of faults and defects before vehicle or equipment use
  • decreased likelihood or severity of injury from catastrophic equipment failures
  • well-maintained equipment in safe-operating condition
  • a workplace culture of safety.

Financial benefits of vehicle and equipment pre-start checklist inspections include:

  • reduced WHS operating costs—minimising risks and hazards decreases workplace injury associated costs
  • decreased repair costs—minor repairs are made so major repairs are avoided
  • reduced unplanned downtimes—vehicles and equipment keep working
  • fewer costly on-road and off-site repairs for vehicles and equipment that break down during operation
  • more on time deliveries for the logistics sector.

The benefits of digital pre-start checklists include:

  • automated reporting and electronic tracking of maintenance and repair jobs
  • reduced paper and printing costs
  • increased validity with geo- and time-stamping
  • faster completion of pre-start checklist inspections and enhanced reporting capabilities through the addition of photos
  • no late, lost or illegible pre-start checklists
  • streamlined administrative processes to increase efficiency (compared to paper pre-start checklists).