Many accidents in the workplace occur due to lack of attention or focus. Lack of awareness increases your risk of becoming a victim of injury. If you are not paying attention, you won’t have the information you need to avoid harm.
Situational awareness is a choice. You must choose to take the actions necessary to become and stay aware of your surroundings.
Be Prepared to Work
Come to work ready to work. If your attitude to work is lowered, you are in a bad mood, or stressed your level of awareness can be impacted. Ensure you have a good night sleep, are not under the influence of substances, have had a healthy meal and are feeling well.
Put the Phone Away
If you are distracted by your phone, put it away, turn it on silent, or place it on do not disturb. The constant pinging of notifications and calls can distract you from the task at hand.
If you are doing a high risk or dangerous task it is best to make yourself unavailable while you are completing the work. If you have a smart watch, you may also want to consider turning this onto do not disturb too.
While you are staring at your screen, you have no idea what is happening around you.
Can you hear your surroundings?
Music is a great way to make the workplace more enjoyable and ear protection is available to protect our hearing from our work, but it is important that you can still hear your surroundings and potential hazards.
If you need to yell over the music it would be considered too loud. Not only are you damaging your hearing, but you also will not be able to hear if your workmate has hurt themselves and is yelling for help, or that forklift heading your way.
Good ear protection should still let in a bit of noise. Noise blocking / canceling ear protection or headphones, shut you off completely to your surroundings. Ensure you can slightly hear machinery, vehicles approaching or someone close-by talking to you.
Know who is on-site
Thieves are known to take a chance at busy workplaces, especially on construction sites, where there are multiple businesses working and staff transition frequently. Ensure you have secure entries / exits and know who is meant to be in the workplace to avoid un-authorised entry and security threats.
Pay attention to who is working around you. Ensure your tools are secure or within sight. Never leave keys in vehicles or near them out in the open.
Thieves take opportunities when they present themselves.
Do not hesitate to ask workers or suspicious looking people who they are, and their role on-site if they are not known to you.
Do not leave doors to buildings open if public can access them or if no-one is present within the work area. It only takes a minute for someone to walk in and take materials or equipment.
Know your Exits
Be aware of where you are and how to exit the area in case of an emergency. If you are working in a temporary workplace and have been escorted to the work area, take note of the path you travel.
During emergencies in unfamiliar areas, it is easy to become disorientated and get lost.
Trust your Feelings
If you suddenly feel uncomfortable about a situation, pay attention to that feeling. You may have picked up some subtle clues about your surroundings without consciously recognising them.
People can often subconsciously notice someone behaving suspiciously, sudden increase / decrease in traffic, or a sudden change in the ‘normal’ noise levels. These can often be signs that something abnormal may be happening. Pay attention to these feelings, stop work and assess the situation.