Workplace hazards can sometimes be ‘looking you in the face’ and still not be recognised. This is especially the case where a hazard has existing for a long time and become part of the accepted ‘norm’ in the workplace. Sometimes a fresh eye is needed to recognise the risk.
Alternatively, workers can be trained to become better at spotting hazards.
When a workplace is familiar, people typically stop looking at their surroundings with any objectivity, and instead tend to ‘fill in the gaps’ with their memory or expectations.
They no longer see the details of what they’re looking at, but rather they make assumptions about what’s in front of them. A common sign of this is the ticking and flicking of a workplace inspection form, with some Supervisors even admitting that they completed the form from memory without leaving their office.
This state of affairs readily leads to near misses and accidents, if (when) the assumptions and gap-filling turn out to be wrong.
Conducting some structured hazard identification training, changing the inspection forms, changing the ‘inspectors’ or even not using a checklist at all are strategies that can be employed to counteract this. Some organisations even set aside time in their schedule for ‘hazard hunts’ . The more effective organisations embed this responsibility for identifying, reporting and actioning within the cultural expectations for each and every worker – inclusive of the Senior Manager, the apprentice and the hired-contractor – and they are held accountable for this. The management system and the safety culture work together to address the hazards before the accidents develop.
Please contact QRMC for more information.