National Safety Month:

If you’ve ever been kept up at night worrying about a big upcoming task, or if you’ve dreaded a tough conversation, you know that humans are exceptionally good at picking out the worst-case scenario and focusing on it with laser precision.

Advice blogs will tell you to try to consider more positive outcomes. I’m here to tell you that your highly-tuned pessimism is a manifestation of your sense of self-preservation and you should listen to it – at least when it comes to safety.

Look into the future.

The key to recognizing hazards is foresight. There’s no crystal ball involved, just one question:

What if?

What if when you take a tight turn around the next corner, and someone else is turning around it at the same time? What if one or both of you have your hands full?

Observing a potential hazard gives you the ability to avoid it – like by taking that corner at a wider turn – and ensure it’s mitigated for the safety of everyone on the worksite.

DG Safety Tip:

Housekeeping isn’t just for spring cleaning. A disorderly, dirty workplace can cause serious safety hazards, from clutter and debris causing a trip and fall hazard to rising workplace stress and plummeting morale.

DG Safety Tip:

Having fresh eyes and different perspectives on the worksite can be the difference between a missed or a mitigated hazard. Encourage contractors to be vocal about any hazards they spot or other safety concerns.

Connect the dots.

Recognizing the potential hazard is a good first step. The next is to contextualize it.

A concrete floor might be flat and clear – but a dewy morning makes it a slip hazard. An especially hot day can lead to fatigue, dehydration, and heat exhaustion – or even heat stroke. A hard frost overnight can mean slip and fall injuries thanks to ice the next day.

Your observational skills will be most tested by hidden or unobtrusive hazards, such as a burned-out lightbulb or a clogged exhaust fan. Regular workplace inspections, like the daily inspections conducted by Dennis Group safety managers, can identify hazards and mitigate them, but observant contractors can often spot and report any missed dormant or potential hazards.

Keep an eye out for these common hazards:

Chemical: compressed gases, solvents, lead
Physical: noise, vibration, heat, cold, radiation
Ergonomic: poor workplace design, jobs with repetition, force, and poor posture
Biological: bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, insects
Machine: moving parts like rotating shafts, belts, pulleys, blades, saws
Energy: pneumatic or hydraulic pressure, electricity, steam, gravity
Material Handling: manual and mechanical handling like lifting, lift trucks, conveyors

It's all in the mindset.

You might feel like Chicken Little waiting for the sky to fall but being aware and attuned isn’t about seeing dangers everywhere: it’s about cultivating a regular habit of active observation. Instead of just absorb the sights around you at a work site, remember to ask yourself what if? and what else?

At Dennis Group, our safety managers take a systematic approach to finding and mitigating safety hazards by creating a daily Job Safety Analysis and reviewing it with contractors in the field.

 Soon, spotting hazards will become second nature – and you and your site will be that much safer.

Our safety record is one of the best in the business.

Find out how we keep our worksites - and your projects - safe for everyone.