There is often a tendency to overlook hazards in familiar work settings, which can lead to having an accident. If you are not paying attention to your surroundings, the simple task of walking can lead to disastrous results.
What is distracted walking?
Similar to distracted driving, a person can be distracted while walking if they are deep in thought, or more commonly texting, talking or listening to music while on their mobile phone. Scientists call the phenomenon “inattentive blindness.” The human brain can only adequately focus attention on one task at a time, so when you’re texting or talking on the phone while trying to walk, you cannot give your full attention to both tasks. Each year, more and more people are injured as a result of distracted walking. With the ever-increasing necessity of our mobile phones and smart devices, distracted walking has become a very real and serious problem.
How can I be distracted while walking?
Don’t talk on a phone or with a colleague, check the time on your wristwatch or phone, or read while walking. The use of cell phones while on a stairway can prove to be a distraction whether you are talking or texting. All these activities take your eyes away from your footing. Employees more focused on their devices than another person as they pass in common corridors may not be as engaged in their immediate surroundings and might not see potential hazards. Workers operating machinery while texting or using their smart phones may injure themselves or others, which may lead to lost time from work.
How can I prevent accidents when walking?
As with any workplace hazard, a careful evaluation of the work area to assess the hazards is an important first precaution. It is important to be aware of walking at home and at working areas.
Check your environment
Adjust your walk: Walk with your feet pointed slightly outward and make wide turns at corners.
Clear walking areas: Keep walking areas clear from clutter or obstructions. Keep flooring in good condition and make sure that the area is dry and clear of any slippery substance.
Check the stairways: Check the condition of the steps and landings, uneven stair heights, and obstacles and uneven surfaces around both sides of the door to stairway.
Practice your route: Adjust your stride to a pace that is suitable for the walking surface and the tasks you are doing. Walk to the route you will be following when transporting materials. Look for uneven surfaces, trip hazards, objects you need to maneuver around, foot traffic, or any other obstacle.
Ensure full visibility
Check for adequate lighting:Always use installed light sources that provide sufficient light for your tasks. Slip, trip, and fall protections can be as simple as using a flashlight to see where you are walking to elaborate harness systems for working on the derrick.
Fix your blind spots: If you can’t see it, you can’t avoid tripping over it. Have your eyesight and eyeglasses checked regularly. Adequate lighting to ensure proper vision is also important in the prevention of slips and falls. Moving from light to dark areas, or vice versa, can cause temporary vision problems that might be just enough to cause a person to slip on an oil spill or trip over a misplaced object.
Avoid carrying objects:Carrying an oversized object can also obstruct one's vision and result in a slip or a trip. This is a particularly serious problem on stairs.
Stay visible: Wear bright or reflective clothing. If walking outside with cloudy conditions or at night, it is important to put on a high-visibility outer layer. Stay along paths and trails, paying attention to signs and lights at cross walks or along the way. Always assume people and drivers can’t see you.
Pay attention to your surroundings
Avoid using your phone: The easy solution is to not use your phone at all while walking. Focus on getting from point A to point B in one piece, then check your phone once you’ve safely arrived. If you must check your phone, hold it up higher to your visual field so you can see any potential risks as they come.
Take frequent breaks: If you are looking at your phone while walking, look up every few seconds to assess your surroundings to help increase your safety. Stop and “pull over” out of the walking path to check your phone. Be courteous to those around you.
Avoid noise-cancelling headphones: Make sure the volume in your headphones/earphones is at a reasonable level or keep one earbud in so you can still hear any potential dangers and alerts before they become an issue.
Take your time:Practice mindfulness and focus on the present. Pay attention to where you are going instead of being lost in your thoughts. Avoid being distracted while you are walking.
Using elevators: Pay attention before entering elevators. The floor of the elevator may not be even with the floor of the corridor.
How can I make sure everyone is walking safely?
While we all walk every day, there can be serious injuries if we are not careful. Remember that walking requires your full attention.
Always be aware of your surroundings: Keep walkways clear of debris and tools (welding leads, extension cords, etc.)
Clean spills immediately:If you happen to notice anything on the floor that is out of place and can cause a slip, trip, or fall, please be kind and help remove the hazard.
Encourage safe walking:Post reminders of safe walking and make sure to practice it daily. Make it clear that others are expected to do the same.
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