When planning work tasks for the day and addressing hazards, it is easy to get caught up on the big hazards. Crews focus on issues such as falls, electrocution, material handling and so on. While these hazards need to be taken seriously and properly addressed, the bigger hazards often take away the attention from the little things. "The little things" refers to hazards such as a cord on the ground, a screw sticking out of a board, a slippery rung on the bottom of the ladder or a hammer hanging off the top of a cabinet. These little issues can still pose a great risk for injury if they are not recognized and corrected.
The problem arises when people get accustomed to seeing some of these little things around the worksite especially if there are bigger hazards at hand. One of these smaller hazards may end up causing the next injury on the jobsite if safety is not a top priority. It is much more likely for a company to experience multiple small incidents or near-misses before one big injury. Some things to keep in mind to prevent "the little things" from happening:
- When tasks and details change, communicate the new duties to every worker.
- Have material ready before beginning work.
- Plan ahead and communicate consistently.
- Involve the general contractor, superintendent, foreman and crew in the pre-planning process.
- Use Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) on every job.
The little things are usually the ones that have the greatest impact on the big things. If the whole team takes care of the little things, the big things take care of themselves.