It’s a simple fact; being aware of your surroundings will dramatically reduce incidents on the job site. We’ve all heard stories of workers being injured by objects around the job site and comments like, “I walk by that (object) every day, and I can’t believe I didn’t see it!”
It seems absurd, unacceptable that a team member could be injured by objects or machinery that they use or pass by every day, yet it happens – every day! And the unfortunate part is, these job site injuries are entirely avoidable. There’s an old saying, “Hazards become wallpaper over time.” A lack of awareness by workers – especially in high-risk situations – can lead to safety incidents and on top of that, negatively impact your overall safety rating.
Studies have revealed six common reasons for lack of worker awareness:
- Getting distracted by noises, moving equipment or fellow workers
- Taking your eyes off the road while driving
- Working at an unfamiliar job site
- Working while tired or impaired
- Rushing to meet a deadline
- Ineffective multitasking
As you might imagine, the fallout from low awareness of surroundings can prove devastating. Listen to the news, and you’ll hear stories of workers getting caught in equipment, backed over or pinned by a piece of moving machinery or severely injured in an explosion at a warehouse or production facility because someone missed a simple safety protocol.
Sometimes a desire to quickly resolve a problem without stalling progress can lead to disaster. Some years back, a tragedy at a chemical production plant resulted from just such a mindset. A worker climbed into a piece of machinery without initiating the lockout/tagout protocol – disabling the equipment. Had he taken time to follow industry safety guidelines, he would undoubtedly have returned home to his family that night, safe and sound.
Each worker must get in the habit of asking him or herself three questions:
- Does anything on this worksite pose a threat to my welfare?
- Am I following established safety protocols?
- What can I do right now to reduce the risk?
As an employee, there are actions you can do to reduce risk and raise awareness:
- Survey the job site before you begin working
- Follow lockout/tagout procedures
- Ensure you’re wearing proper PPE
It’s your job to be hyper-hazard-aware, watching for the following:
- Poorly maintained equipment
- Standing water or ice
- Construction debris
- Overhead objects
- Unsafe surfaces
- Exposed wiring
- Snag hazards
- Trip hazards
- Sharp edges
It’s essential to make sure that all equipment and safety devices are in good working order. If you see an issue, discuss it with your supervisor or coworkers. If you’re aware of a potential hazard, ensure that team members replacing you on the shift are also mindful.
Help out the crew by:
- Picking up and putting away tools.
- Removing debris from the job site
- Keeping extension cords away from high traffic areas
- Replacing guards on machinery, mostly power take-off covers
Most importantly, don’t become complacent! When workers become too comfortable with work surroundings, they can easily overlook potential hazards. With so many dangers on the average job site, it’s vital that workers remain vigilant – not paying attention can lead to disaster. Evaluating work areas and raising awareness of potential issues will save lives!
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