Silent Warnings

Originally published on 05/17/2017

Signs are used to communicate important messages. Signs on a construction jobsite are essential for everyone’s safety.

We see these signs every day. Signs that remind workers of the dangers of working in and around confined spaces or electrical hazards. Signs that alert motorists to the existence of a work zone, warning them to watch out for workers. Signs on containers that provide a list of contents or special instructions. For the most part, we recognize the messages conveyed on these signs and react accordingly.

But what are silent warnings that point to safety hazards with the potential to cause harm? Examples include:

  • a hole in the floor
  • a leaning pile of material
  • a flagger station just over the crest of a hill
  • a worker sitting on a barrier in a construction zone
  • protruding nails
  • an unprotected trench
  • an uncovered rebar protruding upward
  • falling material
  • defective tools

Learn to recognize a silent warning just as readily as you would a sign with words, then take prompt action to prevent accidents.

Don’t assume it’s not your responsibility to deal with a problem just because you didn’t create it, or it’s not in your normal work area. Instead, deal with the issue immediately. Prompt corrective action could mean the difference between a safe working environment, you or a co-worker suffering an unnecessary injury – or worse. Don’t ignore a hazard. Don’t assume someone else will deal with it. If it is something you cannot handle without putting yourself in danger or violating company policy, then immediately report the hazard to a supervisor.

Be alert. Make every effort to observe these less obvious warning signs, because they point to potential accidents waiting to happen. When you do recognize potential safety hazards, take action. Promptly and responsibly take steps to ensure they are corrected.

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