Mental Isolation

Do any of these statements sound familiar to you?

  • Sorry, I stepped on your foot; I just didn’t see you.
  • I ran over your bicycle because I didn’t see it behind the car.
  • Hey, watch out…that truck is going to hit you!
  • Move! That crane is lifting a load above you.

Those types of situations happen when we don’t purposefully make ourselves aware of what’s going on around us.

Sometimes we become so focused on our own activity that we block out everything else. We move into a state of isolation, as though nothing we are doing affects others and nothing they are doing impacts us. We don’t look for people or obstacles that might be in the way. This state of being may be fine when we’re sitting at a desk in an office, but it can have harmful consequences on a construction site. Construction is a dynamic process where the environment and conditions change on a minute-by-minute basis.

To ensure your safety and the safety of your co-workers, you must stay focused on your surroundings as well as what you are doing. Check out these tips for overcoming mental isolation on the construction site:

  • Consider driving as a safety-sensitive function, and assume that moving a vehicle could harm people or damage equipment.
  • Walk around a vehicle before getting into it to become aware of equipment or people that need to move out of the way. You’ll learn how much clearance there is between your vehicle and immovable objects.
  • Remain alert to changes around you.
  • Know the soundness of the surface you’re working on.
  • Know the reliability of the fall protection devices or other protective equipment in your area, and plan an escape route in case you need one.
  • Communicate your intentions to coworkers in your area. This could a quick conversation or wearing a high visibility vest they can clearly see you.