Stay focused, stay safe

Updated Nov 16, 2012

Shutterstock 74975290As someone who writes a monthly safety article, I read about a lot of accidents while researching background information. While it’s true that construction worker fatalities overall have steadily declined over the years, nearly 800 construction workers were killed on the job in 2010. Quick question: What is the number one cause of death for construction workers? The answer is an easy one – falls. If you take a look at some of the standards OSHA cited most frequently last year, you’ll see a big reason why.

In reviewing lots of grisly accidents for the articles, one thing really stands out – many, if not most, could have been prevented. Sure, a handful are due to machine failure or outside contributing factors that would have been difficult to foresee, but simply paying attention and doing one thing at a time goes a long way towards accident prevention.

This fact made me think of an article I just read that asserted something I’d never really thought about: There’s no such thing as multitasking. The premise of multitasking is simple. You’re doing two things at once. The reality, as doctors are discovering, is the human brain can’t multitask. What you’re really doing is called serial tasking, or shifting from one task to another in rapid succession. Since your brain is switching between tasks quickly, you incorrectly believe you’re doing both at the same time.

When you’re on the jobsite, are you totally focused on what you’re doing? Are you talking on the phone, joking around with coworkers or even just mentally making plans for after work? Take note of what distracts you during your shift. Recognizing what interrupts your concentration on the job and dealing with it can help you avoid a serious accident.