Proactive Versus Reactive Safety Approach

Related imageMany of the safety rules and procedures that are in place were “written in blood”, meaning they came about from a previous incident that caused an injury, property loss incident, or a fatality. When we implement a safeguard after an incident occurs we are taking a reactive approach to safety. We can look at the majority of rules and procedures that we follow today as a proactive approach towards safety, however many of them came from a reactive position. Something bad had to happen first before many of the rules and procedures were put into place.

Being proactive is the best way to approach safety in the workplace. Addressing and eliminating hazards before work begins should be a main goal of a company’s safety program. Many workers or the management in some companies would rather take a reactive approach with some hazards rather than being proactive and eliminating them up front. This mindset puts everyone onsite and the company as a whole at risk for an incident or injury.

Proactive Versus Reactive Example

An operator is on an excavator in an already tight work area. A crew that has a work task next to him decides to park in his work area. The crew is not aware of the scope of work for the operator’s task and that is why they did not recognize the hazard of parking there. This makes his job even more difficult to complete. Instead of the operator asking the crew to move their vehicles to a safer location or contact his supervisor he decides he can probably squeeze by the vehicles to complete his work. Ten minutes later he turns his excavator around and in the process hits two of the crew’s vehicles with his counterweight.

If he were to took a proactive approach towards the hazard of the vehicles in his work area this incident would not have happened. He could have stopped his work and asked the crew to move their vehicles to eliminate the hazard of hitting them. This small decision could have made a big difference.

Instead, there will be a site shutdown to complete an incident investigation. The investigation takes time and money to complete. There will be a large cost to fix the vehicles. Individuals could be written up in result of the incident. New procedures and rules will be implemented to prevent a similar incident from occurring.

Being proactive sometimes takes time to do successfully. To eliminate some hazards it takes thought and planning to do correctly. Other times, like in the example, a two minute conversation to move the vehicle could save hours of downtime, money, and stress for everyone involved.

What Can Hurt Me Today?

Every day before our work begins we should go through some type of process to evaluate the work for the day as well as the associated hazards. This process can include a self-check as well as a work area inspection and inspection of tools or equipment. During this process a main objective should be identifying hazards so that you can take steps to eliminate or mitigate the hazards found. One useful question to ask yourself before a work task begins is: “What can hurt me?”.

Questions to ask to work safelyAsking this Question as a Tool

Sure, it may seem very dark and negative to ask yourself this right as your work day is starting or when starting a new work task, but it can be the difference in recognizing the hazard that could injure you or someone else that day. Asking this question should trigger you to stop and really look around your work area and consider what dangers you are dealing with. Identifying uncontrolled hazards should be a top priority before starting any work task. Taking ownership of these hazards and seeing them through to get corrected is necessary for a safe workplace.

Taking Ownership of Mitigating Hazards

Identifying hazards is not worth much if you do not see it through that they are properly addressed. Even if you spot something and make a mental note to avoid that hazard it could seriously injure someone else in the area. Take the time and energy to properly mitigate the hazard so not only will you not be affected by it, but also your coworkers will not be either.


While a positive mindset and attitude are important for success in the workplace, asking yourself critical questions such as “what can hurt me today?” can trigger you take the extra time to really evaluate a work task. Take ownership of hazards in your work area and see them through that they get fixed. After all you never know what safeguard or action may make the difference in preventing an injury.

Being Client-focused in the Construction Industry

Have you ever heard the term client-focused? For employees who are not in a management role they may not give much attention to the term “client-focused”, but in the construction industry every employee should consider the importance of being client-focused.

What Does Being Client-focused Mean?

Being client-focused means keeping the client’s (or project owner’s) best interests in mind when completing your work. In the construction industry, the general contractor or project owner almost always has a high regard for safety for all subcontracted employees on their worksite followed by productivity. If a worker is client-focused then keeping the client’s best interests in mind would mean they are approaching their work both safely and efficiently as best as they possibly can.

Examples of Being Client-focused

  • Following all safe work practices and company specific safety procedures when completing work.
  • Approaching work with forethought and keeping in mind any possible negative impacts that could result from poorly executed work.
  • Ultimately treating how you approach your work as if you were the one who owned the end outcomes – good and bad outcomes.

Being Client Focused Construction IndustryBeing Client-focused is Important for All Employees

By completing work from a client-focused standpoint, you ensure you are representing your company well which often leads to additional work from the same client. It also leads to earning work with other companies who are involved in the project. Earning more work ensures all employees will continue to have jobs even after that specific project ends.

Approaching work in this manner not only means that there are less injuries and property damage incidents on the job as a whole, but each individual worker also can reap the benefits of additional work.

Hand Injury and Prevention Safety Talk

We use our hands for do every task we do at work and because of this they are commonly injured on the job. Keeping our hands and fingers out of harm’s way at work is critical. A serious injury to an individual’s hands or fingers results in a huge negative impact on their ability to work and overall quality of life. While gloves are the most common form of PPE found in the workplace, hand injuries are still the second leading type of injury on the job.

Hand Injury Statistics 

  • There are 110,000 lost time cases due to hand injuries annually.
  • 1 million workers are treated in an ER for hand injuries annually.
  • 70% of workers who experienced a hand injury were not wearing gloves.
  • Another 30% of victims had gloves on, but they were damaged or inadequate for the work task.

Three Common Types of Hand Injuries

  1. Lacerations are the most common type of hand injuries. Lacerations are due to sharp objects or tools. Often hand injury and preventioninadequate gloves are used during an activity that involves a sharp tool. A glove with Kevlar is effective in protecting the hand against a cutting or slicing motion. A straight stab motion can still easily penetrate these gloves. Caution needs to be used when using any tool that can easily penetrate the skin.
  2. Crush injuries are usually due to employees placing their hands in the line of fire between two objects or in a rotating piece of equipment. 
  3. Fractures occur when there is a sudden blow to the bones in the fingers or hands. Motor vehicle accidents often cause fractures to the hands. Another common cause of fractures is an individual extending out their hands to catch themselves from a fall.

Safe Work Practices

  • Use tools to remove your hands from the line of fire when doing a work task that could result injury to your hands or fingers. Using tools such as push sticks when using a table saw is an example that removes your hands from the line of fire.
  • Avoid using fixed open blade knives. There are safety knives that limit the length of the blade exposed. They also have a safety feature that retracts the blade when pressure is let off the handle or switch that controls the blade.
  • Never put your hand in an area where you cannot see it.
  • Always wear the proper gloves for whatever work task you are doing. Understand the limitations of your gloves and what work tasks they are appropriate for.
  • Never work on an energized piece of equipment. Lock and tag out the equipment to ensure there will not be unintentional start up while you are working on the equipment.