Situational Awareness in Safety
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Situational Awareness in Safety

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Situational Awareness in Safety

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Situational Awareness in Safety



What is situational Awareness?

Situational Awareness (SA) is being aware of what is around you in terms of:


here you are Where you are supposed to be And whether anyone or anything around you is a threat to health and safety.Our knowledge, education and experience allows us to understand what is around us and to determine if it is safe.


What we will discuss

Why is Situational Awareness important to us?

Early Pioneers for SA – Oswald Boelke

Coopers Color CodeScenario 1Critical Thinking-Threat and Error ManagementScenario 2The Slam TechniqueScenario 3360 Degrees of SAScenario 410 Ways to Improve Situational Awareness at Work and Home


Why is Situational awareness important to us?

SA is important to everyone. We all need to know what is around us. Without awareness we do not see potential hazards. Unfortunately under those circumstances we do not protect ourselves or others.

Situational Awareness has long been a targeted training for the military, police, firefighters, airline pilots and a number of other high potential for injury jobs.

For most of us, especially for our industrial trained craftsmen, we may not realize some of the hazards that are inherent in or daily tasks. Consider Electricians, Plumbers, Carpenters, HVAC technicians, Mobil maintenance technicians.


Oswald Boelke - WW I German ace

Dicta Boelcke

Try to secure the upper hand before attacking. If possible, keep the sun behind you.

Always continue with an attack you have begun.Only fire at close range, and then only when the opponent is properly in your sights.You should always try to keep your eye on your opponent, and never let yourself be deceived by ruses.

In any type of attack, it is essential to assail your opponent from behind.

If your opponent dives on you, do not try to get around his attack, but fly to meet it.

When over the enemy's lines, never forget your own line of retreat.


Cooper’s Color Code

To be fully aware of any given situation you need to be aware of more than just whether or not something or someone

is an

immediate threat to you. Being aware of your surroundings means not only paying attention to what you see but often what you don’t, comparing what is normal to what you have in front of you and assessing it and looking for things that are irregular. Even the most experienced people can lack SA. Especially when performing tasks that are routine.


Cooper’s Color Code

Code White – Relaxed at home at night, reading or watching TV

Code Yellow – forceful knock at the door. (Did you lock your door?). Do you sense any danger at this time?

Code Orange - Agitated voice on the other side of door saying he crashed into your car on the street and wants you to come out and look at it immediately. You park your car in the driveway.Code red - You tell him you are calling the Police and he tries to break into your house. (You didn’t lock your door!)What is your immediate plan?

Everyone thinks; it is our nature to

think in terms of SA. But

much of our thinking, left to itself, is biased, distorted, partial, uninformed or downright prejudiced. Yet, the quality of our life — and that of what we produce, make or build — depends precisely on the quality of our thought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life. Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.


Scenario 1

HVAC technician was changing belts. As he was removing belt on the fan side of the AHU, his index finger was amputated down to the first knuckle. It was severed between the belt and pulley


For this to happen, where was his sense of awareness ? What color code do you think he was operating in?What Cooper Color Zone should he have been in during this operation.What preventive measures need to be taken?


Scenario 1

Outcome: Root Cause Analysis


PPEStand-downJHA – Hazard Risk AssessmentToolbox with all employees


Airline Industry – Threat and Error Management SA

Situational awareness is having an accurate understanding of our surroundings — where we are, what happened, what is happening, what is changing and what could happen


Good situational awareness requires:

Gathering data (sensing, perception), seeking cues in the environment

Assembling information to give understanding (comprehension)

Thinking ahead (projection)

Thinking about situational awareness involves:

Directing our attention to seek data; scanning a range of sources

Evaluating information without bias, for accuracy and relevance

Understanding, using our knowledge and previous experiences

Comparing and checking, visualizing future events — ‘What if?’

Planning ahead, considering possible outcomes

Gathering data


Anticipate, Plan ahead


Critical Thinking as Part of SA

Critical thinking provides the mental control and discipline required for situational assessment and decision making. It involves several skills that can be learned, practiced and improved.

Control your mind by:

Seeking and understanding information, facts and dataEffective planning, briefing and communication

Increasing knowledge; gaining experience

Learning within a context (situation)

Maintain discipline by:

Being aware of how you think; hazardous attitudes

Evaluating your actions; having self


Being aware of all available resources

Being sensitive to feedback

Critical thinking is the skill of thinking about your thinking

Think inside the box before you think outside of the box


Critical Thinking – Self Awareness

Self awareness — self questioning, self monitoring

Am I biased in my thinking?

Have I made a plan for what I want to do?Are my ideas or knowledge on this issue correct?Am I aware of my thinking; what am I trying to do?Am I using all of the resources for what I want to do?

Am I evaluating my thinking; what would I do differently next time?

Am I aware of how well I am doing; do I need to change my actions or intentions?


Critical thinking Improvement

Improving your thinking —


About yourselfCommitment: to safety, not following feelings or preferencePositive attitudes: persistence, resourcefulness, learning from failure

Attention to detail: seeing the big picture, determining relevance, assessing risk

About the thinking processes

Knowing the facts necessary to do a task by seeking

information – Write a JHA, assess the risk.

Knowing how to do a

task – sequentially, step by step


the best strategy that will work

, when to use

it, and why this will offer you better protection

Knowledge to control the thinking processes

Self evaluation: assessing current technical knowledge, setting objectives, selecting resources

Self regulation: checking progress; reviewing choices, procedures, objectives, resources

Planning: choosing and planning a path to the objective, using

the best procedure through hazard recognition, evaluation and control


Scenario 2

HVAC Technician was working in the attic of a newly renovated facility performing PM’s on HVAC equipment. The space was very tight and the contractors that performed the renovation did not complete the required punch list


The project was completed several weeks earlier but electricians were still completing punch list items in the attic. This work was being done in the evening after hours, so it wouldn’t interfere with required daytime activities. The contractor carelessly left the boxes open so they could easily identify which ones to return to the next evening. They assumed no one would be working in the attic before their return the following evening and left no warning of the open boxes or their locations.  Technician was shocked and received second degree burn to arm.What SA and critical thinking skills were necessary to prevent this injury.

What was done afterwards as preventative?


Scenario 2

1. Contractor was informed of the injury resulting from the unsafe work practices. They were there to remedy the open boxes immediately following the incident.

2. The Client was notified of the incident and the negligence of the contractor.

3. The contractor’s carelessness was a reminder that taking shortcuts to save time is one of the surest ways to cause an accident and serious injury. 4. Technicians should wear long sleeve FR shirts and pants in areas where there might be an exposure to voltage due to uncapped and unsecure system wiring5. Always asses your surroundings before work proceeds. Although this junction box was not in clear site, it was open and had exposed wires. Besides a burn and a shock to the employee, uncapped wires could arc and cause a fire. Electrical shocks are internal burns and resulting injuries could be more severe than originally thought. There is most always an entrance and exit wound that could become infected. From any shock incident,


are required to seek medical attention immediately.


Slam Technique


consists of four simple steps

STOP – Engage your mind before your hands. Look at the task in front of youLOOK – At your workplace and find the hazard that are present to you and your workmates. Report hazards immediately to your HSE resource and supervisor.ASSESS – The effects that the hazards will have upon you, the people you work with, equipment, procedures, pressures and the environment around you. Ask yourself if you have the proper tools, training and PPE to perform the task safely. Do this with your supervisor. He / She should be part of the assessment.


– If you feel that the operation is unsafe, stop working. Tell your supervisor and workmates. Where needed call in your HSE resource. Discuss what actions are needed with your supervisor to make the situation safe.

You can make a


action card for each job function based on your JHA’s. It could be as simple as:

Proper PPE – Identify/Recognize Hazards – LO/TO/Verify, Use the right tools, The right ladder / inspected for the job.


Scenario 3

You are asked to do a hazard assessment at a welding shop that performs MIG , Flux Core Arc, and some standard acetylene welding. What are some of the hazards you should be conscious of?


There is light to medium amount of fume in the shop.Very little in the way of local exhaust ventilation. Several of the bays have flexible trunk local exhaust. Has not been measured to determine capture velocity. Giant fans ceiling height at each end of the building on the walls above the doors. Overhead fans to circulate the air. - a large metal warehouse about 20,000 sq. ft.Break area is dirty and sinks in lavatories are dirty also, although soap and hot water is provided. You also noticed welders may not be practicing sanitation before eating.Major aisle way down center of building that has fork truck traffic. At least 10 welding bays.

What runs through your mind as you assess the dangers to yourself and others?


Scenario 3

Generation of metal fume that may contain alloys of steel.

- (Nickel and Chromium).Gaseous mixtures of fluorides nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide dependent on the flux core of the stickOzone generation based on the welding process – Stainless Steel Fork trucks moving in and out of bays. Probability of ingestion of sublimed metal particles – Due to poor hygiene and lack of sufficient areas to clean up or breaksNoise may exceed OSHA 85 dBA threshold

How are compressed tanks stored. Separation of flammable from oxidizer


Adequacy of ventilation

What about the lighting in the building. How can it detail the work in process.


Safety begins with SA! 360 degrees of SA

The 360 degrees of Situational Awareness – taking the world view of what is around you.


Here are some action items to improve situational awareness:Ensure there is a policy that requires 360-degree size-ups of a work area..Ensure 360-degree size-ups are built into daily safety toolbox discussions - every time.Train engineers and technicians on what to look for during the size-up

(what intuitive clues are present and absent).

When an employee completes a 360 degree size up, have it written down.


First on the job (lead or skilled worker) - always

complete a 360-degree size up? If the answer is yes, how do you know it was done?

2. What clues and cues (both present and absent) would you look for while completing a 360-degree size-up to help you form


situational awareness about what is happening?

3. What clues and cues (both present and absent) might indicate the

how you control the hazard: Passive or Active Posture? Active = LO/TO, Passive= Machine Guarding


Scenario 4

As an industrial Hygienist you are asked to


Scenario 4

A trailer load of sterilized material has pulled up to the dock of your operating.

Your fork truck driver begins to unload. Suddenly he feels a tightness in his throat like a burning sensation. His eyes are watering.

You are notified. Before anyone gets sick you have the rig driver pull out of the docking bay and set the doors open so you can investigate.You discover a pungent odor that is some type of a VOC.You set up blower units and open up the trailer doors and the vent doors at the front of the trailer. You ventilate for 6 hours . You retest and there is no trace of odors.

Is it safe now to unload?

Use critical thinking to investigate.


Scenario 4

Residual Ethylene Oxide gas in the corrugation and plastic

Gases off during transport especially f the trailer is not vented or air conditioned.

Trailers in the summer during transport in many parts of the country can get as high as 120 degrees internally.120-150 degrees is an optimal temp when removing residual Ethylene Oxide at the sterilizer after load has been sterilized. Load heating after sterilization is between 8-12 hours.


All in the transport of the sterilized loads.

Ventilate during transport

AC reefer to trailer

Do nothing and gas off when trailer is at location warehouse before removal.

How would you verify what works?


10 ways to improve situational Awareness at work


Situational Awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend information about how to survive in an emergency

or any workplace situation. More simply, it’s knowing what is going on around you. It is dynamic, hard to maintain, and easy to lose.Knowing what is going on all the time is very difficult for any one person, especially during a high stress survival or work situation. Therefore it is important that you know what behavior is effective in maintaining Situational Awareness.The following are a few ways you can improve your situational awareness today before you need it in a survival situation:



10 ways to improve situational Awareness at work

1. Learn to Predict Events

The most effective aspect of Situational Awareness involves the ability to project the future actions of elements around you.

After you have been able to identify elements in your environment and can comprehend the situation, it is time to take your Situational Awareness one step further. Use this information to think ahead and determine how it will affect future actions and events in the environment.2. Identify Elements Around YouThe first step in achieving Situational Awareness is to become aware of the important elements in your environment. Start by noticing the threats that surround you. Then expand your awareness to other non-threatening elements.

This is the most basic level of Situational Awareness where you begin to monitor, detect, and recognize multiple situational elements. These include objects, events, people and environmental factors. Basic Situational Awareness also requires you to notice the locations, conditions and actions of the elements around you.

This may sound overwhelming, but do not worry. These are skills you already use on a daily basis. The first step is designed to help you expand and improve your perception of what is happening around you.


10 ways to improve situational Awareness at work

3. Trust Your Feelings

Disorder within your family or a gut feeling that things are not right can cause you to lose proper situational awareness. This clue is one of the most reliable because the body is able to detect stimulus long before we have consciously put it all together.

4. Limit Situational OverloadOverload causes distraction, increased errors, and high stress. Prioritizing and delegating tasks and minimizing surrounding distractions can improve safety survival during times of overload.


10 ways to improve situational Awareness at work

5. Avoid Complacency

Assuming everything is under control will affect your vigilance. You have to actively keep yourself in the right mindset.

When things are slow or tasks are routine complacency usually occurs. The worst part is the slow creep of complacency is hardly ever noticed except in hindsight.Continue to challenge yourself and those around you to be prepared for contingencies. Do a mental check every now and then.6. Be Aware of TimeTime is an important factor in mastering Situational Awareness. The pace of your environment is constantly being changed by the actions of individuals, task characteristics, and outside elements. When unplanned events begin to arise, be sure to make the necessary changes to your schedule and goals to help you survive.


10 ways to improve situational Awareness at work

7. Begin to Evaluate and Understand Situations

The next step

involves understanding multiple elements through the processes of pattern recognition, interpretation, and evaluation. Use this information to determine how it will effect your goals or in this case your ultimate survival. This will help you build a comprehensive picture of your immediate surroundings and a better understanding of Situational Awareness.8. Actively Prevent FatigueFatigue affects your ability to watch for possible danger or difficulties. Try adjusting your work routine and imposing sleep discipline to prevent wake cycles longer than 18 hours. Make sure you get at least 6 and preferably 8 hours per day of sound sleep to minimize sleep deprivation.


10 ways to improve situational Awareness at work

9. Continually Assess the Situation

When you are in a survival situation always be prepared for changes around you. Continually assess and reassess the situation to determine if you are giving yourself the best possible chance for survival

. Always leave yourself an out, (Smith System) Learn what nature, the land, and new tasks are telling you, before you find yourself in a difficult situation.10. Monitor Performance of OthersBe alert for changes in the performance of those around you caused by work overload, stress, and mistakes. When changes are needed, take action by speaking up and helping out. A weak link in your crew could be the difference between success or failure in your