Managing Safety Performance NewsFlash

Asking “Where?”

When the time comes to look for the hazards that can hurt you, where do you look?

Without giving that question a lot of thought, you might answer, that’s what a task or job safety analysis does. If you’re thinking that, you’d do well to pause and reflect on the difference between “where” and “how.”

A job safety analysis normally focuses on what to look for: a list of potential hazards. “Is this a potential hazard?” “What about that?” The list is based on experience; not a thing wrong with that. But it is a list, answers to the question, “What can hurt you?”

If you really want to look for all the hazards that can hurt you every time you do something, “where” always needs to be part of the conversation. 

Work always gets done in a three dimensional space. Asking where gets you looking ahead and behind, left and right, and up and down. For things that you might already know are there – and things that you might be surprised that are there. 

If you want to go home alive and well at the end of the day, asking, “Where do I look for hazards?” is one of the most important questions you can ever ask.

Had the person involved in performing this simple task asked that question – in real time – this never would have happened. 

Paul Balmert
August 2020

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