Distractions reduce safety in all types of work environments, but especially so in situations where machinery and vehicles are in motion near workers. The chances of being struck by a moving vehicle, lift truck, crane or boom are greater when operators or nearby personnel are distracted.
OSHA states that “the leading cause of worker fatalities year after year are motor vehicle crashes; distracted driving dramatically increases the risk of such crashes.”
What causes distractions?
- Hurrying to finish a task
- Cell phone use
- Repetitive work
- Long work sessions without a break
- Work sessions that are often interrupted by other tasks
- Machinery that is malfunctioning
- Cluttered workplaces – debris and construction materials should be cleaned up; shop floors should be kept clean
- Noisy workplaces or using earbuds to listen to music cause workers to not hear important signals in their surroundings
What can be done to minimize distractions?
- Employers should be aware that increasing production schedules generally reduces safety as workers try to work faster
- Prohibit cell phone use and texting – especially while driving
- Reduce simple repetitive work and introduce more variety into work schedules
- Provide breaks during the work day. Studies have shown that a more frequent schedule of mini-breaks can improve safety
- Reduce interruptions from other staff or outside influences
- Keep machinery in good working order
- Debris and construction materials should be cleaned up; shop floors should be kept clean
- Reduce noise levels and consider educating employees on the dangers of wearing earbuds or using radios to listen to music on the job
Minimizing distractions an important part of improving jobsite safety and worker productivity.