How our Interaction with Hazards Determines our Level of Risk

Every time you approach a project, every time you pick up a tool, every time you start a piece of equipment or machinery, you should have a strong questioning attitude and look for what can go wrong. You should know how to reduce risk! Construction projects are dynamic. We work in an uncertain world doing complex work in real time, and we expect employees to manage risk on the fly. We do really well planning big task, but what about smaller tasks such as backing up trucks, lifting materials, using ladders, or even walking across the jobsite?

We need workers who are “risk competent” and can quickly recognize hazards and implement controls to reduce risk. For example, a large truck moving in reverse on a jobsite presents a certain level of risk; knowing the use of a spotter reduces the level of risk is “risk competent”. Reducing risk before it causes an injury or property damage can save significant losses.

  • Hazard is anything that can cause harm.
  • Risk is the likelihood the Hazard causes you harm; both probability and severity

A dump truck is a hazard. How we interact with the dump truck determines our level of risk. Backing up without a spotter high risk, and use of a spotter is one example that can lower the risk.

Heavy material is a hazard. How we interact with the material determines our level of risk. Picking it up with our back is high risk, and using a forklift, cart, or getting help lowers the risk.

Safety controls, engineering, administrative, and PPE, are used to reduce the probably and severity of injury when things go wrong. During our meeting we reviewed several real life scenarios and discussed variety of ways to reduce risk, or reduce likelihood or severity of an incident.

Of course there are many reasons we want you to work safe, but the truth is there are way too many preventable injuries occurring in the work place every day and no one should ever have to accept the risk of injury as a condition of employment. You have a more important reason to work safe than just because we want you to. Your reason may be your family.

What you do for a living is nothing more than a means towards a goal that you have set for yourself. That goal may be the education of your children. You may plan to buy a lake house or a boat. Whatever your goals may be, they all generally tie back in some way to what you do for a living. And what you do for a living could be seriously derailed by an accident. We realize there are times when planning and performing safe work is inconvenient and you might be tempted to take unnecessary risk or short cuts. Don’t take the chance! Do not take unacceptable risk! Implement controls to reduce risk to acceptable levels!