Safety Week Lesson 6: 3 quick safety breaks each day ups awareness, slashes incidents

Updated Jan 6, 2016

Workers At A Boston Jobsite Where B Safe Has Been Implemented Gather For One Of The Program's Safety Talks

Although there were no injuries, excessive equipment damage and rising safety incidents had begun to take away from the bottom line at AECOM’s Black Thunder Mine in Wright, Wyoming. Management convened a group to investigate the incidents and when they did, one fact stood out prominently, says John DePoorter, equipment manager.

Almost all the incidents were happening at the same time of day, mid-mornings and mid-afternoon to quitting time.

So the mine’s safety committee came up with a 10-2-4 plan where all the operators would stop during their shifts at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m. and get on the radio for a quick safety talk.

During that time, operators could update each other on problems with mine site or haul roads, things like icy patches on the road or a missing berm or just safety in general. The strategy not only gives workers real time safety information, but it fights off fatigue and discourages complacency.

“It just seemed to wake everybody up,” says DePoorter, and we have good conversations back and forth between the operators.

Responsibility for convening the safety break is assigned to different employees to ensure participation and engagement, he says. The only cost has been 10 minutes of labor time per operator per shift. The benefit is that the company has decreased incidents by 50 percent or better, says DePoorter. “It’s worked out well for us.”