What's Going on Here?

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We speak of situational awareness often and for good reason. It is possible to become so attentive to the task at hand that we forget the world around us does not stop, but keeps going. 

It isn’t until something happens unexpectedly, that we look up and realize we’ve missed an opportunity. That “something” could be as simple as a muscle cramp from being in an awkward position, eye strain from focusing on a welding bead or computer screen, or something as drastic as someone within the working area lifting a load overhead. 

The “opportunity” missed might result in any outcome from someone going home, going to first aid or worse. 

The work place changes constantly, whether you are in the field, shop, or the office. Knowing and acknowledging this can ensure we apply a positive habit to prevent the surprise of the unexpected. 

Wachs’ pre-job briefings begin every shift by acknowledging known hazards and discussing how we will either eliminate or mitigate each one. Off course, as the shift progresses the hazards change. This is where we apply the 20-20-20 rule to our daily routine in order to increase our situational awareness. Every 20 minutes we stop what we are doing, take a deep breath, blink our eyes, stretch our muscles, and look around the area 20 or more feet for 20 seconds. 

If you spot an issue that has the potential to negatively influence your work, stop what you are doing. If possible, eliminate or mitigate the issues that could result in a loss (injury, productivity, quality, etc...), communicate to those in the area and to your supervisor what you saw, and whether any corrective actions were taken. Make sure to update the STA. When it isn’t possible to eliminate or mitigate the hazard stop what you are doing, inform and remove everyone immediately in the affected area of the potential hazard, and alert your supervisor. At this point a new STA will be done, noting the actions taken to either eliminate or mitigate the new hazard. 

20-20-20 rule
Every 20 minutes- stop what you are doing, take a deep breath, blink, stretch
Look around 20 feet away or more
for 20 seconds.

Situational Awareness means being aware of what is happening around you in terms of where you are, where you are supposed to be, and whether anyone or anything around you is a threat to your heath and safety. Your situation at work is always changing, make sure you know what’s going on!


We can keep better track of our situation when we’re not sleep deprived. For information on how sleep deprivation effects you, please see this edition of Wachs Weekly!