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SCnSP – Rework Your Safety Approach

♦♦  CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Feb 2018
     

Re‘-Work Your Safety Approach

Including your H&S Rep Training

Empowered Safety Rep

     

Let’s re-examine the real reason why safety is important.

We want our employees to return home to reunite with their families, every day. We want our assets and plants to remain in a safe and productive state. We want to re-use our resources and be relentless in reducing waste and effluent. Our operations need to be refined to reach the goal of reliably producing environment-friendly products.

Often, one of the causes of problems with safety is that we repeat old mistakes, over and over and over again. We need to recollect and learn from the past. One of the ways to do this is by conducting managerial reviews as part of our management system and standards.

The ‘RE‘ words

These are really important for safety because they’re action words and safety is not a once-off exercise.

RETURN  to the basics of safety.
REDISCOVER  the power of people – driven by a safety vision.
REQUEST  involvement and participation by all in safety.
REVIEW  your safety approach – reactive or proactive?
RECONSIDER  your safety recipe – approach.
RENEW  your safety systems and approach.
REFRESH  your approach – no papers, posters and pamphlets.
REINVENT  how you engage your people in safety.
REFLECT  on your attitude towards safety.
RECOGNISE  safe  behaviour and results.
REINFORCE  safe behaviour.
REWARD  Disruptive Safety[1] – better, faster, cheaper, safer.
RECHARGE  your safety efforts – our safety batteries are limited.
RETHINK  the repercussions of taking chances.
RECALL  incidents and remind employees of the consequences.
REVISE and REWRITE  your procedures to include safety.
RE-EXAMINE  what is preventing safety success.
REMOVE  causes of / reasons for unsafe behaviour.
RECTIFY  unsafe conditions promptly.
REPAIR  broken or damaged equipment or assets.
RESTORE  safety equipment and devices.
REPRIMAND  reckless behaviour.

Note

The word REACT is not in the above list because that is the most important behaviour / action to avoid in safety. A reactive approach focuses on compliance and corrective action only, rather than on prevention and doing the right things.
Also note that the words REVIEW, RECONSIDER, RENEW and REFRESH are all key to Disruptive Safety™ and that is why we have created The Safety Rep’s Survival Guide and are running in-house workshops.

Picture: Disruptive safety call to action icon

Ask yourself and your team:

Are you giving your internal customers (company employees) what they need or ordered, or are you merely flogging them stuff you think they should have or do, i.e. things they didn’t ask for, don’t understand or accept, can’t use and don’t value?

Don’t brush this off. This is a critical question if you want to get buy-in from the people you serve. It’s easy to assume that co-workers / employees don’t know what’s required in order to keep them safe. How do you know what it is that they do or don’t know if you haven’t asked them?

Listen and respect the input from those who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’. Accept their recommendations and legalise their actions = make them safe. This is where your H&S Reps play a critical role, provided they have been properly educated and empowered.

[1]   Disruptive Safety™ promotes a futuristic approach to safety which shifts the safety paradigm from ‘Preventing wrong’ to ‘Ensuring right’. Read more

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Nigel Risner, my international professional speaking colleague, who granted me permission to adapt the ‘RE’ concept for purposes of this safety tip.
[www.nigelrisner.com]

ESSENTIAL LINKS

Icon: Jurgen-Antzi with a mike

Let me help your staff reflect upon, recommit to and be responsible for championing your safety culture.

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D1STEM – Safety Chakalaka for Winter Blues

♦ SERIES ♦    DO ONE SAFETY THING EACH MONTH    ♦ SERIES ♦
Jul 2017

A SAFETY CHAKALAKA

To chase away the winter blues

Picture: Chakalaka

Need to revive safety thinking, whilst chasing away the winter blues?
Try this [1].

How the Safety Chakalaka idea works

Ideally, “earning” the ingredients for your chakalaka shouldn’t take longer than one month, so pick a simple recipe that ties in with your site / theme.

The week before you “launch” your safety Chakalaka, share the list of ingredients with everyone so they can start thinking about this.

Then, every Tuesday and Thursday (or any other days that work for you), pick one ingredient at random.

For example, if you pick carrots on Tuesday, then participants have until Thursday to come up with 20 safety tips relating to that ingredient. Once you have 20 tips, carrots have been “earned” and you can add them to your stew. On Thursday, you pick another ingredient to be earned by the next Tuesday, and so on.

When you have all the ingredients, cook up a delicious chakalaka to accompany your pap and meat so that everyone is able to enjoy a nice hot bowl of safety chakalaka stew!

Example of chakalaka ingredients for a construction site:

Cabbage : lifting techniques
Onions : slips, trips, falls
Carrots : scaffolding
Red/green peppers : ladders
Baked beans : permit to work
Tomato purée : lock out & isolation
Garlic : PPE (personal protective equipment)
Chillies : working at heights

These can be adapted to your site or a theme of your choice, such as Road Safety, Office Safety, Working in Enclosed Spaces, Excavations.

The possible variations on the Safety Chakalaka are limited only by your imagination!
So … get stewing and feel free to share with me the pics / write-ups of how you implemented the Safety Chakalaka idea at your operation.

[1]  Concept used by permission: Hawk, Richard. Make Safety Fun. www.makesafetyfun.com (Adapted from “Safety Stew” winning idea by Ann Knapp, March 2015.)

Picture source:  commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chakalaka.jpg

ESSENTIAL LINKS

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The Safety Rep’s Survival Guide  –  what it is and why you need it

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SM – Mother’s Rules

♦♦♦    SAFETY MATTERS    ♦♦♦
Aug 2009
     

Mother’s Rules

     

The term health, safety and environment (HS&E) is used widely. We appoint HS&E, SHE, or H&S Representatives, but the quality of the ‘H’ component of our management systems is often very low.

At some of the companies that I have visited, heath and hygiene does not really feature in the agenda or the actions of management, representatives or workers, except in the HS&E policy pasted on the walls.

Would you like to be operated on in a hospital where the ‘H’ does not feature? I often see personal protective equipment (PPE) that could not protect the wearer and has even become a health risk in itself!

This self-imposed risk is especially true for the way that some workers treat their disposable PPE, like disposable ear plugs, disposable dust masks and gloves. Imagine your surgeon using soiled rubber gloves and contaminated face masks. Or imagine re-using condoms. No surgeon and no informed worker would do such things, yet some workers used soiled respirators and breathe contaminated air into their lungs!

disposable dust mask being reused

Workers should take good care of all their PPE. Disposable PPE should not be stored once it becomes dirty. Workers, supervisors, managers and HS&E specialists should discuss the long-term health risks of exposure to hazards like dust, bright light, low light, noise and hazardous chemicals. Where they do not have enough reliable information, they should call on specialists to provide information. Suppliers, hygienists and occupational health staff would be glad to assist.

Where workers, supervisors, managers and specialists find that they do not all agree on the nature or level of the risk, or on the best course for preventing loss, they should likewise call on specialists and investigate the occupational health issues until they reach agreement at all levels of the organisation.

Ten House Rules

To help raise awareness about health and hygiene, ‘H’, I use a cake of soap with Mother’s Rules printed on the wrapping:

Mother's Rules

These are basic ‘house rules’ about health that everyone should have learnt at home. Everyone, except mothers, tends to forget the rules from time to time. Perhaps mothers like repeating these rules because only fools would argue with them! Workers are legally obliged to follow health and hygiene rules.

Employers, like mothers, have many obligations too. Employers have to assess health risks and supply the soap and other appropriate cleaning material. They have to ensure a work environment free from health risks.

Health and hygiene management may be a matter of minor or mildly serious infections at home, but at work it could be a matter of serious infection, fatal exposure, or long-term exposure resulting in chronic disease.

Mothers use common sense to train young people how to avoid hazards at home. At work, the hazards are larger, more complex and there are more of them. Workers should not make the mistake of believing that common sense alone will save them from harm.

Employers have to make a special and continuous effort to find hazards, assess the risk to workers and visitors, make workers aware of the pathways of exposure, teach them how to avoid harm and provide the right PPE at the places and times where some exposure cannot be avoided.

Workers have the legal obligation to learn and follow these occupational health procedures. Where workers ‘forget’ or ignore the ‘house rules’, employers are dutybound to use discipline – in the spirit of love – just like mothers do!

Full PPE (1)Full PPE (2)

Operators wearing full PPE

ESSENTIAL LINKS

Icon: Jurgen-Antzi with a mike

The Safety Rep’s Survival Guide  –  what it is and why you need it

Let me help your staff reflect upon, recommit to and be responsible for championing your safety culture.

Search the S.H.E. ATM  –  for safety and wellness answers, tools and methods

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SCnSP – Moving the Elephant

♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies and the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance.

Leveraging the whY factor to move the elephant.

Moving the Elephant

It’s all about the whY factor

sketch of an elephant and definition of purpose

Some of the most often asked questions I come across in safety are:

  • Why don’t people follow the rules?
  • Why don’t people engage with us?
  • Why don’t people use the system / PPE / safety equipment / … ?
  • Why don’t people use their common sense?

People know what to do. If they have been around for over six months, are competent and trained, they know what to do (this includes, when, where and who). They also know how to do it. The rules, procedures and standards exist.

The answer to the above questions lies in the whY factor. Once people understand and accept why something has to be done, the what and the how follow. The whY factor is what moves the elephant.

It’s not hard to do the right thing –
it’s hard to know what the right thing is.
Once you know, once you know what’s right –
it’s hard not to do it.[1]

Often, the O-generation does not understand the (wh)Y-generation = insisting on ‘knowing why’.[2]  But part of to know what the right thing is, is understanding why it’s the right thing. The whY factor is the emotional component of doing things. When one gives people einspruchsrecht, i.e. the right to partake in decisions which affect them, one inevitably provides the why.

We have to give people the purpose
in return for engagement and creativity,
even though we might argue that safety is common sense.

ACTION

If you’re asking “Why don’t people … ?”, then you have a whY factor problem. You should be rephrasing your safety question to “Do my people understand and accept the purpose, the why, we have to do the right things?” This is a much tougher question, because it creates a shift from blame to action.

[1]   From the movie “The Confession

[2]   “O” = older and “Y” = younger / millenials

RELATED READING

“Safety as a Value”

“The Best Audits”

“Safety Fever”

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GM – Out of the Blue

♦♦♦   ROAD SAFETY   ♦♦♦

Out of the Blue

accidents are caused

I have been preaching: “Accidents don’t just happen – they are caused by someone choosing to do the wrong thing or choosing not to do the right thing“. This could be via design, maintenance, use, disposal, or an outright, deliberate choice to break the rules or to take a short cut.

But, what if you are the victim of such action, an innocent passer-by, in the wrong place at the wrong time? Here is a story of a young couple on holiday in the USA:

“Tonight we had a really, really close shave. I was driving and we’d just pulled up to a petrol station, when, I kid you not, literally a few seconds later, an out of control car came hurtling out of nowhere from the intersection, smashing us into the petrol station pump. The driver, it later turns out, was very high, drunk and out of his mind. Some very nice gentlemen from the Louisiana State Troopers got hold of and arrested him a bit later.

We got out of the car ok. Jess, being on the passenger side, is a lot more bruised than I am, but luckily no battery sparks or the like and luckily the pump’s fail-safe kicked in and the flow of petrol, except that from our car’s tank, was automatically cut off immediately.

It was very close though … the terror of having yourself and your wife slammed into a petrol pump by an oncoming car. Also, I can now fairly confidently say, never rent the cheapest cars that are short a safety feature, airbag or reinforced side door here or there; and please award a Nobel Prize for the person who invented side airbags.”

Photo showing the vehicle smashed into the fuel pump at the gas station

Accidents happen every day. The reason this particular accident touched me deeply is because the young people involved are my son and his wife.

As with so many road accidents, natural disasters / events or crime incidents, they can (and do) happen anytime, anywhere, to anyone, for no reason at all. There is little that the ‘victim’ can do about it. Well, let me rephrase that: there is little the ‘victim’ can do about preventing the random event.

You can, however, take pro-active measures to minimise the impact of an incident and the ‘luck factor’ [1]. Unfortunately, unless you’re with the Navy Seals or have access to sophisticated behaviour modification training, there is little effective training to deal with being a victim of such an event. Thinking and being aware are your best defences. Of course, there is no fail proof solution, but here are a few things we all, as individuals, can do:

ACTION

  • Think about ‘What If’ scenarios, the consequences and what you can do to minimise the risk should any of those scenarios materialise.
  • Look at your ‘Near Hits’. Ask what happened, why it happened (dig down by repeating this question a number of times) and, most importantly, what you can do to prevent it from happening again – or at least to reduce the damage or injuries.
  • Be alert to your surroundings and actions. Use the traffic light rules:
    • Be aware of your green = safe situations, like being at home and relaxing in a safe environment.
    • When leaving home and getting onto the roads your awareness level should change to amber = pay attention, slow down and look for possible danger.
    • When drawing money at an ATM or approaching a hijacking hot-spot or in a crowded area, you should be at a red level of awareness = eyes in the back of your head.
  • Don’t be merely a ‘passenger’ – speak up when you see someone taking a chance or breaking the rules, like going down the killer road of F-S-D = FATIGUE-SPEED-DEVIATION (including drink / drugs).  
    “The mirror we hold up to the person next to us is one of the most important pictures he / she will ever see.”
    — Seth Godin
  • When buying or renting or merely borrowing someone else’s stuff, consider the safety features of that piece of equipment – guarding, trips and fuses, alarms, isolation features, air bags, etc.

In a future safety tip, I will deal with due diligence, HIRA and the topic of building safety into the design of plant and equipment.

 

[1]  Luck and safety don’t belong in the same equation. You cannot drive your safety efforts by relying on luck.

RELATED MATERIAL

Taking your eye off the ball / road / task

It’s My Mistake

Road Safety – Take Safety Home

Walking the Circle of Safety

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D1STEM – Prevention rather than cure

♦ SERIES ♦    DO ONE SAFETY THING EACH MONTH    ♦ SERIES ♦

I like to “Keep it simple” and this is often part of my advice. For this month’s activity, I strongly recommend you do keep it simple or else you may find yourself caught in analysis paralysis.

Prevention
Rather Than Cure

Think. Accidents are avoidable.

Analyse your safety efforts – how much of it is policing, rather than pro-active prevention and improvement?

A good safety approach constitutes a balance between systems and procedures, safety equipment and people’s actions and behaviour. Compliance and corrective action are less effective than prevention and pro-active action.

Improve the design and operation of safety efforts to reduce the remaining risk, before an incident forces you to do it.

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SCnSP – Safety and Quality

♦♦♦  SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦♦

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies and the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance.

SAFETY & QUALITY

(They go hand in hand)

Why do many companies link Safety and Quality, often co-ordinated by one department? There are a number of reasons, based on requirements / drivers that they have in common or are shared:

  • Adherence to defined and specific rules and procedures.
  • Involvement by and of everyone – the basis of efficient implementation of Safety and Quality systems.
  • Driven by a policy document developed by top management for unity of purpose and direction and audited against elaborate ISO and other international standards.
  • Need people to change their attitudes and behaviours to ensure customer needs are continually satisfied and employees are not injured or harmed.
  • Use professionals to support the business functions and many other shared factors.

But the real common denominator is ZERO = ZERO DEFECTS = ZERO HARM = ZERO TOLERANCE. I know ZERO is a hotly debated issue, but just consider the consequences if your surgeon did not have a ZERO mind-set or, for that matter, if Koeberg did not have a ZERO TOLERANCE approach!

graphic depicting common / shared requirements / drivers of safety and quality

There is also a more direct, physical link. It is, simply put, waste! Waste in all its forms: spillage and effluent, defective products, time lost being unproductive (from injuries, reworks, or time spent making defects). It is all money down the drain. Even if you can rework some of this waste, much of it still ends up on a waste dump, ultimately damaging the environment.

On top of that there is the cost of cleaning up, waste handling, attending to the injured, time taken to investigate causes of incidents and product non-conformities. You need bins and containers, fork lifts and trucks, storage areas and waste / effluent pits and enclosed spaces, plus lifting equipment, settling ponds and dumps with separation facilities.

The link to safety is the fact that to deal with waste you introduce the additional resources, equipment and facilities, with the associated new risks involved. This could be hazards like trip, slip and fall, confined spaces, working at heights and lifting equipment, especially when recycling or reworking. In order to protect against the health hazards, extensive PPE is often required.

Another direct link between Quality and Safety is created when a non-conforming part that is fitted, for example, to an aircraft could directly result in a safety disaster.

For Safety and Quality to be effective and sustained, organisations should focus on identifying the underlying causes of incidents or non-conformities and implement actions that eliminate the root causes of the non-conformities experienced.

ACTION

  • Change the Rework / Waste mind-set to ZERO WASTE. Make it a priority, like when working with extremely hazardous chemicals as in a nuclear plant.
  • Compile the real, total Cost (direct and indirect) of rework, recycling waste and waste handling activities and share with your EXCO and all employees.
  • Get the ‘Safety’ and ‘Quality’ teams together to find ways of working jointly to plan and run a ZERO TOLERANCE campaign.
  • Organise a competition to evaluate the amount identified in item #2 (Rand or tons) to encourage looking for opportunities to REDUCE – REUSE – RECYCLE

RELATED READING

“Zero Defect – Tracy Ackermann’s Plant” – from the book Life EduAction by Jürgen Tietz

Going to Waste

Fix Those Leaks

Your Paper Footprint – Environmental Murder?

RESOURCES

Moses Mudau, Head of QEHS Management at SABN
Master of Engineering (MEng), Industrial Engineering/Management

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GM – Oscar’s Defence

♦♦♦    Oscar’s Defence    ♦♦♦

for Safety Incidents / Accidents

 

Leaving the question of the extent of Oscar’s guilt and the consequent sentencing aside – that’s Judge Masipa’s job – one cannot ignore that this case is a classic example of not taking responsibility and of making excuses and assumptions.

This “disease” is too often mirrored in people’s behaviour when it comes to safety. We find people giving excuses instead of acknowledging their role in mishaps, which would help us to find the root cause of incidents or near hits (not misses!).

Excuses often given include:

  • I did not know / think / ask / hear / see . . .
  • I assumed . . .
  • I didn’t do it on purpose.
  • I can’t remember
  • Before I could think, I had . . .
graphic with words I'm Responsible

Accidents don’t just “happen”. They are the direct result of someone choosing to do the wrong thing or to not do the right thing. This includes thinking of the consequences of one’s actions before taking action!

Why do people make excuses rather than owning up? In some companies, it is because there is a culture of intimidation and / or people fear being penalised.

Incident reporting is mandated, but companies also want to know about near hits – this information is critical as an aid to finding and fixing root causes permanently, so that similar incidents don’t happen again.

To encourage disclosure and ownership, one needs to promote a safety culture of focussing on the incident and not making somebody pay for what happened. Of course, there will always be exceptions to this principle, as in a situation of deliberate sabotage, pure negligence, tampering with safety devices and equipment or blatant contravention of safety procedures.

ACTION

  1. Review your policies and procedures, so that there will be no penalty when reporting or owning up to a genuine mistake.
  2. Contact me for a Simply Smart Safety™ Power Survey to help you understand what the current safety culture looks like in your company.

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SCnSP – Manslaughter or Murder?

♦♦♦     SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE     ♦♦♦

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies. One of the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance is to examine our behaviour when driving and working and be ruthlessly honest about our true concern for the safety, not only of ourselves, but those around us.

Manslaughter or Murder?

I am not talking here about the Oscar Pistorius trial or pre-judging the case with a guilty or not guilty verdict.

I am talking about using a cell phone!

Talking and texting (SMS) on a cell phone, while operating a machine, plant or equipment, like cranes, trains and planes, or while driving vehicles, is a major safety hazard. Just imagine being the cause of a fatal accident as a direct result of talking or texting on a cell phone. An astute prosecuting attorney would argue that keeping your cell phone on while driving constitutes intent and that hence you would be guilty of, at least, manslaughter! This might sound harsh, but the reality is that taking your eyes off the road to look at your cell phone screen, even for a few seconds, can result in you being directly responsible for the death of another human being.

Before you read further, I strongly urge you to check out Jill Konrath’s blog and the video link in her post (see Related Reading [1] below), to see what happened to her husband, Fred, and to Dave and Leslee Henson as a direct result of a driver texting while driving. Pay particular attention to “The eye-opening facts on distracted driving“.

www.stopthetextsstopthewrecks.blogspot.com

Cell phones, as enablers of instant connection, are a communication and networking blessing, but at the same time, they are a safety curse. There is nothing so important that it justifies compromising safety. Nowadays, we behave as though the world will come to an end if we don’t immediately answer a call or read and reply to text messages! Nonsense! What happens when you take a flight? The airlines insist you switch off your phone, period. Believe me, the world goes on for the next hour or even 10 hours. Calls and messages must (and can) wait. Why not adopt the same attitude when driving or operating machinery and equipment? And talking of air planes, how safe would you feel if you knew your pilot was texting on his / her cell phone while busy landing the plane you’re traveling in?

In the quest to save time we go for multitasking, which is another issue compromising safety (see Related Reading [2] below). Texting while in meetings has become a widespread practice and is now a habit which has spilled over into driving. Furthermore, the issues arising from using cell phones are valid in any situation where people “push the buttons and use the tools”. A ringing cell phone or a text alert breaks the concentration and tempts people to take their eyes off the ball / road / process. Cell phones should be PARKED while “on the job”.

ACTION

Park the Phone Before You Drive!

  • Share this Safety Tip widely and with all your employees, especially the video in Jill Konrath’s blog. Make a copy available for your employees to take home and share with their families (contact me if you need help with this).”
  • Review your company policy for cell phone use in your operating plants and when driving vehicles. This goes also for company-issued cell phones. Become tough with people who violate your “NO CELL WHILE DRIVING / OPERATING” instruction.
  • Why not suspend the ‘licence’ for six months if anyone’s caught using a cell phone while driving / operating a company vehicle / machine or while driving on your company property. That will send a clear message that you are serious! Alternatively, send them on paid leave for a week, to do duty at the ER of a local hospital.

PLEASE drop me a line telling me what you are doing in your company so I can let Fred and Leslee know / show them the good which is coming out of their tragedy.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Heartfelt thanks go out to Fred and Leslee for going public so others might learn from their experience, and to Jill Konrath for writing on this important subject of the dangers of texting while driving.

RELATED READING

[1]   Jill Konrath: “Avoid this Killer Strategy at All Costs”   Blog   Video

[2]   Jurgen Tietz: “Do Not Disturb

[3]   “Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks

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SCnSP – Do Not Disturb

♦♦♦     SAFETY CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE     ♦♦♦

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies. One of the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance is to ensure that our people understand the importance of FOCUS time and allow them to incorporate it into their daily work schedule.

Do Not Disturb - people at work

Have you ever tried putting up a “DO NOT DISTURB” sign at work? Or blocking out time in your electronic diary? What happened and should this practice be allowed?

Multi-tasking is often lauded and touted as a desirable, even necessary, trait for efficiency. However, it is a misunderstood concept and is, in fact, *not* an efficient way to get things done and can introduce unnecessary risks[2], eg. consider the risks of using a cell phone while driving, or a pilot being distracted whilst landing an aircraft.

Similarly, distractions and interruptions have a detrimental effect on the task at hand. Attention is diverted and thinking disrupted. The likelihood of a mistake being made once the person resumes the task increases three-fold[1], posing a very real safety hazard. Furthermore, the associated “resumption lag”[3] means it actually takes longer to complete the task, so productivity suffers.

Interruptions and distractions are a reality of our times. In an office environment, this can mean that work is taken home and hours spent “catching up”. (See “Kill the In Tray” [4]) In an environment or situation requiring a person to interact with equipment or machinery or controls, I’m sure you can see that the consequences can prove to be fatal.

We all have 24 hours each day, but successful people have a commitment to remain focused on the important stuff. They use their time efficiently and avoid interruption.

ACTION

  • Schedule just 30 minutes today, where you can appreciate uninterrupted time to focus on ONE important priority task and aim to finish that task. Close the door, put up a DO NOT DISTURB sign and take the phones off the hook. Beware of the email / busy trap, where you feel busy with lots of little urgent things, but you do not tackle the important stuff. (See “Waiting at the Doctors” [5]) At the end of the 30 minutes, check how much productive work you actually got done. During the following 30 minutes, operate normally and see how little you will get done, during the same time frame. Repeat this exercise a number of times, until you are convinced that productivity and success depend on focus, prioritisation and zero interruptions.
  • Now that you are convinced, it is time to create a schedule to get uninterrupted time in your day. Make it a fixed routine and ensure that people who take up your time are aware of your routine, including your boss. (See “Kill the In Tray” [4])
  • Take the above lesson and apply it to your safety critical tasks. Reduce the amount of interruptions and distractions and increase the focus on the task at hand to minimise the potential of mistakes – vessel entry, lifting, working at heights, shut-down -, start-up – and lock-out procedures, etc. including answering a cell phone.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

With grateful acknowledgement to Andrew Horton, whose post “Do Not Disturb”, inspired me to write this Safety Tip, with a focus on the safety risks.

REFERENCES

[1]   Andrew Horton “Do Not Disturb”

[2]   On the hidden perils of juggling too many jobs at once

[3]   Resumption Lag = “the time needed to ‘collect one’s thoughts’ and restart a task after an interruption is over.” [Erik M. Altmann, Task Interruption: Resumption Lag and the Role of Cues]

[4]   Jurgen Tietz “Taking Responsibility: Kill the In-Tray”   Click here to download.

[5]   Jurgen Tietz “Time and Priorities: Waiting at the Doctor”   Click here to download.

FEEDBACK

Your feedback and comments are always welcome! Drop me a line!

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