Four Seconds To Safety

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Perhaps the best tool to come along in industrial construction (at least as far as safety is concerned) is the Field Level Risk Assessment or Job Hazard Analysis. Whatever you call it, this is a tool that makes everyone stop and think about the different risks associated with the task. Crews normally gather and write out the JHA or FLRA before doing a job. This exercise greatly reduced the number and severity of injuries where this was done.

The same principle of these risk assessments can be done in our shops. Simply take a four-second “reset”. Take four seconds before starting some new familiar task. This act of refocusing has been shown to reduce the probability of an injury incident by more than 90% versus not taking the four seconds. How hard is that? You may have done the task you are about to perform thousands of times before. In your mind, you know that you could do it with your eyes closed. It is usually not the task itself but some small thing you did not anticipate that causes the incident. You did not notice the debris in front of the tool you were going to pick up. You did not notice somebody placed something on the part you were about to pick up. You did not realize how heavy a piece is that you were asked to help carry.

It is easy to imagine the different activities we do every day and how this applies. For example, getting in a forklift and having a quick look around. We change our thinking from where we are going to focusing on the area, road conditions, other vehicles and so on. This is the “reset” we are talking about.

Believe it or not, four seconds is all it takes. Get in this habit of taking four seconds and you significantly reduce your chance of injury. If you get into the habit of taking chances or simply cruising from job to job, you will eventually be injured.

This four second reset was first instituted on CN Rail. This was part of a strategy to reduce the number of very serious incidents they were having including many amputation injuries. What they found was that their employee knew the rule or procedure to do the job without getting injured but were simply not focused. Even well rested employees were getting caught up in the routine of the day and found themselves daydreaming or thinking about other things. Losing an arm or leg is a very rude awakening.

We highly recommend this four second “reset” as an excellent way to refocus on the job at hand. And we believe that this is one very effective method to prevent injury on and off the job.


This toolbox topic was reviewed by ______________________________________ on ___________________________ with the following employees:
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