Situational Awareness: A Different Way of Assessing Risk
When workplace accidents or incidents occur, employers perform investigations to determine the root causes and to prevent these events from happening again. They want to determine if, within their safety managed system, all issues with the potential to cause accidents or incidents have been properly addressed.
Job Safety Planning
The job safety planning process has often taken into account data from studies involving accident and incident theory. Typical results from accident ratio studies are not meant to predict the future escalation of these events. They should be seen as an indication that your safety managed system needs improvements to increase the prevention of incidents and accidents.
Energy Barrier Analysis
According to the concept of an energy barrier analysis, if we fail to eliminate a dangerous energy source, it becomes an unwanted energy. If we fail to control the unwanted energy, it becomes a hazard and if we fail to protect the worker from the hazard, it can lead to a potential injury.
Unsafe Working Conditions
Workplace conditions are usually not static and they can change significantly at any time. Therefore, they need to be continuously monitored. This includes before, during and after completion of the job.
In considering the environment element of a safety managed system, bear in mind that it encompasses more than just outdoor issues:
- High winds, lightning, heat/cold, rain/snow
- Adequate intensity (indoors), time of day (outdoors), visibility
Air Quality Conditions
- Dust/particulate, gases, temperature/humidity, O₂deficiency
Physical Work Conditions
- Housekeeping, uneven surfaces, soil conditions, unsecured tools/equipment, height
So, what is the best way to address situational awareness at work?
Remember that the workplace environment is where you’ll need to focus most of your attention to address situational awareness issues. You’ll need to maintain safety standards on your site to help prevent the creation of unsafe conditions and unsafe practices which can lead to incidents/accidents.