Situational awareness is a real and important issue, but it’s not very well understood.
If you really think about situational awareness and how it applies to safety, think about Sherlock Holmes when he tells Dr. Watson, “You see, but you do not observe.”
That’s really what we’re talking about. Situational awareness is about our ability to observe beyond seeing and put what we’re observing into context.
It comes down to do we appreciate the hazards around us, can we put our exposure to those hazards in context and can we recognize the change in vulnerability to the hazard.
Engaging the brain
One way to ensure employees can take all of this in is pausing work. This is about stepping back, engaging the brain and thinking about the level of exposure.
We’re working with a group of delivery drivers who we’ve had shift gears in thinking about going from driver to delivery person as they perform their duties. The exposures and mindset of being a delivery person is totally different than that of a driver.
What we’re training them to do is when they show up to a home to deliver a product, they pause. They talk themselves through the new exposures they’re about to get into.
This is only for a few moments, but it allows them to think things through instead of just running on autopilot.
(Donald Groover, Industrial Hygienist, Dekra Consulting, Oxnard, CA, at the AIHce EXP 2020)