I was a late bloomer when it came to paying attention to wakeup calls, but somehow my personal angel saw me through in spite of my penchant for writing checks my skills couldn’t cover.
Luckily, I began to get the picture bit by bit as I progressed through flight training, where the demand for situational awareness becomes obvious…or you pack up and go into another line of work. Similarly, on construction work sites with their legions of perils, the need is just as great though sometimes less obvious. Worse still, maintaining situational awareness can be made more difficult by barriers we have erected in the name of safety—notably, such things as head and hearing protection.
Lord knows how many deaths or serious injuries are prevented each year by hardhats. Neither is there doubt that earplugs and Mickey Mouse muffs have been godsends in preventing hearing damage, but they come with price tags: distraction and isolation from the unexpected hazards of the job site that can lead to dismemberment and even death. It’s an insidious situation made worse when teamed with other distractors such as walki-talkies, cell phones, i-Pods, or MP3 players.
Of course, you are going to insist that your people wear protective gear. Of course, you are going to load them up with the accoutrements related to safety and productivity. So where does that leave you? Between a rock and a hard spot with a job only partly done. The answer is a matter of resolution on your part to preach that gospel of situational awareness in daily reminders in the form of signs, lunchbox meetings, walk-by encouragements on the hazards and pitfalls of the job site—those both general and site-specific—and the absolute need for your workers to keep their heads out of their tailpipes.