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How Can You Drive Situation Awareness?

Thu, 03/14/2019

There are many factors that will decide a person’s level of safety in the field.  The beliefs they hold, the attitudes they portray and the practices they employ.  Despite all those important constructs, there are also intangibles.

One of those intangibles we hear quite often is “Situational Awareness” – is someone experienced and competent in the environment they are operating in, and familiar with the methods to prevent an incident from occurring?  Situational Awareness requires knowledge of the activity being conducted, the site it is being conducted within and a thorough understanding for the mechanics of the bigger picture (i.e., what is going on around you).

Spatial Awareness only depends on someone’s ability to reactively interpret their presence or location in relation to other objects (whether movable or immovable), and how they are required to interact with those objects to navigate through space in a certain manner (usually with the intention to transition your physical location from one point to another without incurring harm).

Situational Awareness, however, demands a proactive understanding of a particular environment.  Reactive interpretation of potential interactions with a space won’t cut the mustard.  To be situationally aware is to have foreknowledge of what will occur in a space (within reason).  By implementing a comprehensive Situational Awareness Program, you will be able to plan and control outcomes.

Being able to plan out a task and then execute exactly as you mapped out is powerful – and it saves lives.  However, just one breakdown in process or one non-conformance can undo the whole approach.  For this reason, you must emancipate “Situational Awareness” from intangibility by founding it in something concrete and measurable.

There is a great opportunity to do this by attaching the term to hazard assessment processes.  A person’s Situational Awareness can be continuously improved and re-invigorated by conducting a review of potential and actual workplace hazards and the controls that could be implemented to prevent those hazards from manifesting negatively.

However, there is one potential pitfall in trying to stimulate meaning Situational Awareness through your hazard assessments – many organizations are still conducting their assessments in a paper-based format.  The lack of interactivity and black and white mundaneness of paper will not inspire critical thought in the field.  An active mentality needs to be present if Situational Awareness is the goal.

Organizations looking to improve Situational Awareness, but who are also conducting hazard assessments in paper, need to start considering more innovative and modern options through which information and guidance can be presented and discussed.

Fortunately for them, a small handful of companies have begun developing field level hazard assessment digital tools, optimized for in-the-field operations and tailored to empower Situational Awareness.  We happen to be one of those few organizations who have developed a product for this purpose.  The SayleSafety App is an easy to use solution that allows the user to ensure due diligence and augment Situational Awareness.  It provides a visually stimulating interface that draws attention and involvement and ensures that all workers understand what the plan is for a particular task – all without the hassle of managing paper.