Friday 31 December 2021

Safety is not determined by the absence of accidents, but defined by being vigilant and conscious


Safety is not determined by the absence of accidents, but defined by being vigilant and conscious.

Accidents and Mishaps can happen any time in any work environment/ in any industry. Although our workplaces are often protected by security officers, safety professionals and effective control systems, everyone must also take responsibility in maintaining a safe work environment.

Staying alert and vigilant at workplace, recognizing all potential hazards at work can significantly reduce risks. Research studies reveal that there is a relationship between vigilance and operational errors. This means that errors and accidents are more likely to happen when vigilance decreases.

Safety Vigilance relates to sustained attention or sustained concentration. Vigilance is the ability to concentrate on a particular task without getting distracted over a period of time. Distractions can interrupt vigilance. Vigilance is important for developing awareness. A person who doesn’t practice vigilance cannot react to changes in the work environment and change the behavior accordingly. Vigilance is one factor that must be considered at all steps of the job tasks and duties.

A person chooses to pay attention while at work but no doubt he tends to lose focus when performing routine tasks. Situational awareness is the foremost component of individual safety. It’s vital for a person to know and understand the prevailing condition of the work environment and anticipate how it might change over time.

Situational awareness makes a person to be vigilant and know what’s going on around. By being attentive and alert in the workplace, all the employees can help maintain a safe work environment and improve the safety of those around them. Maintaining situational awareness requires real effort and one must try to avoid things that distracts you form being focused on the task.

Let's be vigilant by having ensured of these

1.    Typical Site Activity

Daily activities shall be monitored on a routine basis that can help in establishing what is “normal” for the workplace or site. It’s essential to make a habit of assessing the surroundings more actively by using the SLAM Technique

1. Stop: Stop and observe the surroundings to be aware of what is going on around you.

Stop the task and think by asking:

  • Is it a new task?
  • Did the task change?
  • When was the last time I did this task?
  • Is it safe doing this task?
  • If not, do I need training?

2. Look:

  • Look and notice on what you see and find out anything looks unusual or out of place before, during and completion of the task.
  • Take a record and report anything that looks unsafe or unusual to the supervisors.

3. Assess:

  • If a potential threat has been identified. Evaluate and decide what necessary actions have to be taken by being vigilant.
  • Check if they have the required knowledge, skills, training and tools.

4. Manage: If it is unsafe at any time, it has to be immediately reported to the supervisor for controlling the risk by developing and implementing controls.Appropriate action has to be taken to eliminate or minimize any hazards and manage the risk.

2.    Safety consciousness and vigilance by improved training

Workers often tend to forget some necessary aspects of laid-down rules and regulations. Therefore, continuous training can be a platform to ensure all employees are informed of appropriate information every time.

Lack of knowledge should not be an excuse for poor job performance. Employees need to get trained about potential hazards and unfamiliar works. Employees should be ensured with the required knowledge about the systems, processes, and procedures in the work environment making them feel confident about what to do in each situation.All workers should be encouraged and trained to develop situational awareness by being vigilant and apply their experience, training, and skills to assess the work environment. Situational awareness adds on value to the workplace by cultivating safety-conscious habits, enhanced preparedness and increased safety response.  

3.    Developing strong safety consciousness is a key to safer workplace

Develop safety consciousness by encouraging the employees to:

1.    Know the job thoroughly and be familiar with the work plan.

2.    Develop, revise and utilize Job Safety Analysis for work tasks to be done.

3.    Perform the work in such a way that it will not create or leave any hazards which may cause accidents.

4.    Participate actively in safety meetings and committees.

5.    Observe and report all hazards, unsafe practices, and conditions by being vigilant and get them corrected.

6.    Take responsibility for using personal protective equipment on the job

7.    Instruct and create awareness on accident prevention to our own families, co-workers and others.

8.    Obtain training in first aid, emergency preparedness and response so that one can respond quickly and appropriately in case of an emergency.

4.    Safety Differently

  • Safety is not determined by the absence of accidents, but defined by being vigilant and conscious.
  • We can’t improve safety by simply eliminating bad things at workplace; we can make safety better by improving our systems and practices by being more vigilant.
  • People should be the solution to the problem, but not the problem to be controlled. Workers should be vigilant and always conscious in bringing solutions to the safety defects and problems. They should learn how to create success on a daily basis predicting and controlling the hazards; utilize their skills and competencies to build a safer workplace.
  • Employees should be proactive in anticipating what might happen before something go wrong. Instead of reacting to failures and mistakes, workers should think ahead, plan ahead and act ahead by being vigilant and conscious.
  • Preventive vigilance should be adopted in the workplace by putting safe guards in place and implementing various preventive measures to eliminate danger and enhance safety and security.
  • Preventive vigilance increases the watchfulness - keeping a careful watch on activities and tasks to avoid possible dangers.

The main aim and purpose of vigilance function in an organization is to assist the management to accomplish its goal by ensuring safety at all stages by being vigilant. Vigilance in an organization ensures protection from all threats and dangers.

Safety Vigilance demands focused attention by adopting “Prevention is better than cure”.

Article by Dr.Yashoda Tammineni,
MSc,MBA, Ph.D.


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