Keeping yourself out of the line of fire: Hazard awareness in the workplace

Guest Blog: Greg Mimms, Global Director – EHS and Security at Xylem Inc.
Greg has over 20 years of experience managing environmental, health and safety programs for various companies such as Ameritech, Motorola, General Electric, Ingersoll Rand and now Xylem, Inc.   At Xylem, Inc.  he is responsible for the development and implementation of the EHS vision and strategy for the Applied Water Systems business.  Greg holds a Bachelor’s degree in Occupational Safety and Health from Indiana State University and a Master’s degree in Environmental Management from Illinois Institute of Technology.

When you hear a term like line of fire, scenes from an action movie or instructions shouted by a drill sergeant come to mind. At Xylem Applied Water Systems and many manufacturing companies around the world, the phrase line of fire has a very important and specific meaning when it comes to ensuring a safe work environment for employees.

Hazard awareness in the workplace, and especially in a manufacturing environment, is a critical skill to have as an employee. Identifying potential hazards (i.e. moving equipment or vehicles, falling objects or debris, or contact with stationary objects) helps to prevent and ultimately eliminate them from the shop floor, enabling everyone to be injury-free.

Get Out of the line of fire

To help keep our employees out of the line of fire, and support increased awareness of hazards in the workplace, it is important to know the four behavioral states that cause line-of-fire injuries and incidents:

  1. Rushing – You are in a hurry to complete a task
  2. Frustration – You are angry, irritated or annoyed
  3. Fatigue – You are tired
  4. Complacency – You have completed a task many times and have never been hurt before

Keeping Yourself Safe from line of fire Hazards

The key to reducing onsite injuries is learning how to recognize and avoid line-of-fire hazards. By taking three easy steps, you can steer clear of the line of fire:

  1. Be aware of the hazards around you
  2. Understand the machines and operations in your work area
  3. Take time to think about the consequences that could result from what you are about to do

Office Applications

Staying out of the line of fire in an office environment is just as important as practicing safety in a manufacturing facility. Examples of line of fire hazards in the office include:

  1. Standing on a chair or cart with wheels to reach something high
  2. Texting or talking on a cell phone while walking down hallways with blind corners
  3. Failure to use crosswalks or sidewalks in parking lots or driveways

Providing safe environments for employees around the world starts with each of us. To prevent injuries and ensure we all go home to our loved ones each night, we need to be more aware of hazards in our environments and make smart decisions that keep us out of the line of fire.

What are you doing to promote safety in your workplaces?