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Safety Brief – Avoiding Distractions

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In addition to all of the physical hazards you face on a construction site, there are also hazards that are not as recognizable – distractions. As with other hazards, you must identify distractions and take steps to control them so they don’t cause accidents and injuries.

A distraction is anything that takes your attention away from the task you’re doing. There are external distractions, like cell phones, warning lights, sirens, and talkative coworkers. There are also internal distractions – distractions that originate inside of us, like stress, fear, poor choices, even hunger. Today we’re going to talk about those internal distractions.

Watch your own behavior. The job site is not a place for heated discussions. Surprising or startling someone is dangerous, even if it’s not intentional. Horseplay distracts you and others – don’t participate in it. Pay attention to the way you act and the choices you make, so you don’t become a dangerous distraction.

Some distractions can come directly from your body. You might feel hungry, have to use the bathroom, feel sleepy, or be too warm. Maybe the cold medicine you took is making you dizzy. Do what you can to come to work focused and clearheaded. Get the sleep you need to feel rested and alert. Eat a nutritious breakfast and stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can make you feel unfocused and sleepy. Wear all the necessary clothing and gear to keep yourself comfortable in whatever weather you’ll be exposed to. Never come to work drunk or under the influence of any type of drug. Use your breaks to get a snack, rest, and refocus.

Emotional issues can distract you. Life can be distracting. You may find it difficult to keep yourself focused on the job when you’re worried about bills, or if you are dealing with a big change in life, like a new baby or a divorce. Don’t do it alone. Ask for the support you need from family, friends, or your doctor. It’s up to you to make sure that the distractions in your life don’t cause a harmful accident at work.

Sometime you just go on autopilot. If you’ve completed a task many times before, you might zone out as you work. When you notice this is happening, reset your focus by taking a short break, working on a different task, taking a walk, or just stretching your body.

The job site is a busy, noisy place that’s filled with back-up alarms, flashing lights, loud noises, and other distractions. There can be a fine line between distractions and important information. You have to stay focused on your work so an oversight doesn’t cost you a body part, or even a life. At the same time, you have to hear distractions like alarms so you don’t get crushed or run over.

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