Originally published April 18, 2017
There are potential hazards on any construction site. In many cases, whether or not we get hurt depends on how we approach these dangers and deal with them. To a certain extent, safety is instinctive. For example, we seem to be born with a fear of falling. In other instances, safety is not instinctive. It has to be learned and practiced. Why do some people ignore the dangers they’ve been warned about, while others take heed? The differences are EXPERIENCE and ATTITUDE.
In almost any operation, accidents caused by unsafe environmental conditions or mechanical failures tend to be easiest to control, at least potentially. However, human behavior – identified as a leading cause of accidents – is harder to manage. Everyone should be aware of the human factors that can contribute to an accident.
Ignorance. This condition may stem from lack of experience, the inability to recognize a hazard or lack of job training. Don’t guess or take chances. Ask questions, and be sure you understand your job and its dangers.
Daring. This type of worker believes he can beat the odds. Maybe he can, for a while. It’s like playing Russian roulette. Will you find the bullet on the first trigger pull or on the sixth? Some jobs are so full of danger they can be likened to having more than one bullet in the cylinder. In other words, in some conditions your odds of being hurt are greater. There are enough dangers in construction without taking extra chances.
Poor Work Habits. These sometimes come with familiarity, or they may begin on the first day of the job. Don’t become complacent just because you’ve been taking shortcuts and have been getting away with it. Set an example for the younger, less experienced worker.
Haste. We are all familiar with the adage, “Haste makes waste.” It’s true. An accident is always costlier than the value of the time saved. Not only can it result in medical bills, but there may also be damage to equipment, loss of production and other “hidden costs.” Work at a steady, efficient pace and work smart.
Physical Failure or Fatigue. Exhaustion can limit your concentration, coordination, eyesight and judgment. Pace yourself and get enough sleep when you have work to do. Don’t abuse drugs or alcohol. Tests have shown the effects of these substances can last for days, even if you seem to feel fine.
Work smart and work safe. If you maintain a positive attitude toward safety, you’ll live longer and be better off in many ways.