Everyone agrees that safety in the workplace is important. It helps ensure your own safety and the safety of those around you, allowing us to return home alive to our family and friends at the end of each day.
And yet everyday shortcuts in safety are taken to get jobs done faster. Or safety is compromised due to work activities being so ingrained in our minds that we go on autopilot, and forget or dismiss, against our better judgement the need to check for potential safety hazards.
Checklists are there to remind of the simple things that our brain tends to forget. They can be used to prompt us to stop and take a moment to assess the situation and our immediate work environment. Checking for potential safety hazards allows us to manage risk, whilst minimising the chance of injury, and with the right processes, it can take only five minutes.
Asking yourself – am I safe to work?
Techniques such as the Take 5 risk management process are intended to identify any health, safety and environmental hazards present at the specific time and location of where the work activity is to be undertaken.
In its most basic form the Take 5 forces us to ask “Am I safe to work?” by narrowing our focus towards the task at hand, ticking off items on a checklist before we engage in the activity. By taking just five minutes to conduct a Take 5 safety check, it can often make the task much faster, easier and safer to complete.
The basic Take 5 process involves the following steps:
- STOP – think about the potential dangers associated with the job.
- LOOK – identify any hazards.
- ASSESS – the risk. Consider any possible threat of damage or injury.
- MANAGE – controls. Implement suitable control measures to reduce risk. Ensure other persons on site who are affected by the same matter are informed about the hazard.
- SAFELY – complete the task.
Reducing injury rates with Take 5
Mining organisations such as Rio Tinto and Imerys have been using Take 5 checklists as part of their approach to workplace safety with positive results.
In 2013, Rio Tinto Alcan Yarwun, located in Gladstone, Australia reported majority of the recorded thirteen injuries for the mine in 2013 were due to poor assessment of the hazards involved with completing tasks. The mines approach to reducing the injury rate involved training sessions to assist employees in completing Take 5 pre-task hazard assessments (PTHA) of a high standard. The Take 5 assessments are then audited on a daily basis by leaders who provide feedback to ensure continuous improvement of the process.
In 2014, Rio Tinto Queensland Alumina Limited, also located in Gladstone utilised the Take 5 process to reduce the number of hand injuries and total recordable injury rates on site.
Hand injuries were a major concern for the mine, with reported injuries to hands and fingers accounting for 71 percent of recordable injuries recorded in 2014. In response, a safety campaign was launched with Take 5 PTHAs forming part of the initiatives introduced. The result was a reduction in the number of hand injuries and recordable injury rate in the second half of 2014.
Imerys, another mining group also utilises the Take 5 program. The Take 5 pre-task risk assessment program was implemented in January 2014 with employees required to perform Take 5 checks on work activities, daily. The introduction of the daily Take 5 check program resulted in a 27 percent decrease in combined lost-time incidents by December 2014 with Imerys reporting a lost time incident rate of 0.95, achieving their goal of a lost time incident rate under 1.0.
Take 5 for Safety
The use of a Take 5 checklist in the workplace reminds us to stop and take five minutes to assess our work environments so we can get the job done safely. A few important minutes can help avoid injury and even death. Remember the quickest way isn’t necessarily the safest way, so Take 5 to make sure you and your workers complete the job safely.