What is Situational Awareness?
Situational awareness is being aware of what is happening around you in terms of where you are, where are you supposed to be, and whether anyone or anything is a threat to your health and safety. Everyone’s situational awareness is individual and may differ as it is based on experience, education and our own perception. Even the most experienced workers can lack it especially when performing tasks on regular bases, in other words, routine.
The SLAM Technique:
Stop the task and think. Engage your mind before your hands and ask yourself:
Is it a new task?
Has the task changed?
When was the last time I performed this task?
Do I fell comfortable doing this task or do I need extra training?
Look at your workplace before, during and after completion of the task for:
Potential Hazards for you and your team mates
Identify hazards and evaluate them
Report them to your supervisor immediately.
Assess the effects that the hazards have on you, people around you, environment and equipment. Ask yourself:
Have you got knowledge and tools to perform task safely?
What else do you need to perform the task?
Do you need any help?
Do you need more training?
Stop if you feel unsafe. Inform your workmates and supervisor about the potential hazard and tell them what actions you think would make the situation safe again.
Personal Protective Equipment and Reducing the Exposure to Hazards:
Hazards: chemical or metal splash, dust, projectiles, gas and vapour
PPE Options: safety spectacles, googles, face screens, face shields
Please make sure you got the right eye protection for the task and it fits properly!
Head and neck-
Hazards: falling objects, risk of head bumping, hair getting tangled in machinery, chemical drips or splashes, climate and temperature
PPE Options: safety helmets, bump caps
Replace head protection if damaged! Some safety helmets incorporate or can be fitted with specially designed eye or hearing protection.
Hazards: noise (level and duration of exposure)
PPE Options: earplugs, earmuffs, semi-insert/canal caps
Choose protectors that reduce noise to an acceptable level, while allowing for safety and communication. Keep in mind that very high-level sounds are a hazard even with short duration!
Hands and Arms-
Hazards: electric shock, cuts and punctures, temperature extremes, impact, chemicals, radiation, vibration, abrasion, prolonged immersion in water
PPE Options: cut resistant gloves, gloves with a cuff, gauntlets and sleeving that cover part of all arms
Take care in selecting appropriate hand and arm protection. Loose gloves or loose clothing around heavy machinery is severely dangerous and should be avoided due to the risk of entanglement!
Wearing gloves for long periods of time can make the skin hot and sweaty and leading to skin problems. Using separate cotton inner glove can help to prevent this.
Feet and Legs-
Hazards: wet, hot or cold conditions, electrostatic build-up, slipping, cuts and punctures, falling objects, heavy loads, metal and chemical splash, vehicles
PPE Options: safety boots and shoes with protective toecaps and penetration-resistant
Appropriate footwear should be selected based on risks identified. Footwear can have variety of materials and sole patterns that help prevent slips and it can also be anti-static, electrically conductive or thermally insulating.
Hazards: dust, gases and vapours, oxygen-deficient atmospheres
Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE): respirators (filtering half and full masks), self-contained breathing apparatus
You must use the right type of respirator as each is efficient for only limited range of substances! If the respirator has replaceable cartridges, make sure the correct type is fitted, that they have not become exhausted or clogged and are still in date.
Hazards: extreme hot or cold temperatures either outside or in freezers, corrosive materials, excessive wear or entanglement of own clothing, contaminated dust
PPE Options: flame resisting clothing, disposable overalls, high-visibility jackets
Don’t forget other protection, like safety harnesses!
Employees and PPE:
Whilst many employees appreciate the necessity of wearing personal protective equipment, there are also a few who still would rather gamble with their safety. Some of the reasons why workers choose not to use personal protection equipment may include: overconfidence thinking that no harm can come and everything will be fine, routine of performing the same job on a daily basis, inconvenience, restriction to work or equipment’s poor design.
The refusal to wear appropriate Personal Protection Equipment or negligence of it can be catastrophic not only for the individual but also for the company. By failing to use the proper equipment we put ourselves at risk and the chance of suffering an injury increases.
It is Employees Responsibility to –
· Follow Safe work practices
· Attend all Staff Training
· Use electrical PPE as required
· Report any concerns related to PPE to their supervisor
Remember: All it takes is a moment for an accident to happen. Think is it really worth taking a risk and loosing what you have?
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