Workers who don’t mind their surroundings – especially in construction and industrial settings – put everyone at risk, which is why it’s important that managers take steps to enhance situational awareness.
Deadlines, distractions, routines and fatigue are among the many factors that can cause employees to lose focus on the job, and just one mistake can lead to downtime, injury or death. Keep reading for helpful ways that workers can avoid complacency by being proactive and staying alert.
9 ways to enhance situational awareness on the job
- Practice the SLAM method. The four stages of SLAM are stop, look, assess and manage.
- Stop to ask the following questions: Is this a new task? Has it changed? When was the last time I completed this task? Am I comfortable with it? Do I need training?
- Look at the work area before, during and after completing a task to inspect for hazards.
- Assess potential threats and if the task can be done safely with the equipment available.
- Manage: Managers should ensure workers encounter minimal hazards, then follow up regularly to find out what is going well and what could be improved.
- Understand the pace of your environment. Pace fluctuates depending on the task, crew and outside elements. Watch for unplanned variables and adjust accordingly for safety.
- Beware electronic distractions. These days, it seems like everyone is constantly looking at their phone or tablet. Try not to text and swipe while walking or performing other tasks. Even listening to music can be a distraction away from safety best practices. Only use devices in areas or situations where it’s safe to do so and remember to look up regularly to scan surroundings.
- Have an exit plan. If a work threat is imminent, have a designated safe place to move to.
- Speak up when dangerous situations occur. This can help prevent future threats. Report accidents, injuries, near-misses or suspicious activity that could put the team in danger.
- Recognize team member tendencies in order to predict future events. Watch for changes in the performance of those nearby and step in to help if necessary.
- Prevent fatigue. If fatigue becomes a factor, consider adjusting routines and try accomplishing a more consistent sleep schedule. Try to get between six and eight hours of sleep each night.
- Expand visibility when possible. Glance at the mirror hoisted above the next shelf corner to see if a forklift is coming, look for reflections on equipment – anything that suggests people are nearby. The idea is to sense danger before it arrives.
- Deploy signaling devices and signage. Go a step further by installing visual and audible signals to enhance situational awareness. Most everyone knows that red means stop, green means go, yellow means caution and sirens alert of some sort of status change. Watch this video to learn how signaling devices alert workers and improve situational awareness: