Hurry: A Barrier to Safety and Productivity

Originally published 11/25/2015

There are many times during a typical work year when workers face the “Hurry-Up Syndrome.” As the deadline looms, workers sometimes ignore good practices for the sake of saving time. But all too often, hurrying to complete a job results in poor work quality or worker injury.

What happens when you rush to finish a job?

  1. Planning suffers. We place too much emphasis on action, rather than planning and thought. Instead of planning ahead and obtaining the proper tools and equipment to do a job correctly and safely, there is a tendency to make do with what you have. Using the wrong tool for a task can injure people and damage equipment. Without proper planning, we often stage materials far from where we will use them. This results in more movement, which increases the opportunity for an accident or injury to occur.
  1. Attention to task suffers. Workers don’t focus on the task at hand. Instead, they are thinking about what still needs to be done and the time deadline. This lack of focus can cause accidents and injuries. Distraction is often the root cause of injury.
  1. Breaking the rules. Looming deadlines can prod workers with the best of intentions, to break the rules in order to complete a task. They respect the procedures for quality work and the safety rules, but in the stress of the moment, they decide cutting corners just this once won’t hurt. An example would be when a worker fails to use the appropriate fall protection equipment because he only intends to be at a certain height for a few minutes. If there is no immediate negative consequence, then he has the tendency to repeat the action. Sooner or later there will be a negative consequence, which could result in damage to or loss of equipment, or cause injury to himself or others.

We cannot totally avoid the “Hurry-Up Syndrome;” however, we can acknowledge the stress for what it is and resolve to do what we know is best for both timely work completion and safety for our co-workers and ourselves.

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