“PAUSE” Before You Act

Jack Masella, Director of Health & Safety

Over the last four years, we have come a long way in our health and safety journey. We have implemented a number of processes aimed at mitigating and eliminating hazards and incidents, and we have improved. But we can do better and must continuously improve. The next step of our journey is to ensure all employees are consistently identifying and eliminating risks before we begin each and every task we undertake.

Many processes, operations, and tasks have potential risks for unsafe acts and/or conditions that can result in losses such as injuries, vehicle accidents, and environmental damage. If you are a safety geek like myself and review the information available on incidents, it is said unsafe acts account for 88% of accidents while unsafe conditions account for 10%. This means that we overwhelmingly control the outcome in how safely we complete a task. I know you are probably asking: What is the other 2%? They are conditions outside of our control — for instance, another driver is not paying attention, runs a red light and impacts our vehicle. And if you look at our preventable incidents — whether an injury, vehicle incident or spill — these percentages hold up.

But before these risks can be eliminated or controlled, they must be identified. This is where our new process PAUSE comes into play. PAUSE is a structured pre-task risk assessment for you to take necessary precautions to prevent incidents by identifying and mitigating unsafe acts and/or conditions prior to performing the task.

PAUSE is about making a personal proactive awareness commitment to, and taking ownership for, your safety and the safety of those around you:

  • Before starting, consider how to do job safely.
  • Understand required PPE and how to use it.
  • Determine correct tools and ensure they are in good condition.
  • Scan work area and know what is going on.
  • As you work, check work position; reduce any strain.
  • Any unsafe act or condition should be corrected.
  • Remain aware of any changes in your workplace – people coming, going, etc.
  • Talk to other workers about safety.
  • Take safety home with you.

PAUSE is a mental process and, as you have probably surmised, uses the letters in the word PAUSE as a prompt and guideline for a pre-task review. The PAUSE process can be found below.

Step 1. Pause
Pause all physical activity before you start any task or when any conditions or situations change during the task.

Step 2. Assess
Assess and identify any potential unsafe acts and/or conditions by examining each aspect of the task and surrounding area.

Step 3. Understand
Understand the cause and effects of potential unsafe acts and/or conditions related to your tasks, and take the actions necessary to prevent the potential unsafe act and/or condition.

Step 4. Share
Share findings of the potential unsafe acts and/or conditions with your co-workers and mitigate them.

Step 5. Execute
Execute only after you have become knowledgeable of the present and potential unsafe acts and/or conditions you face during your tasks and have taken the necessary precautions to protect yourself and others from them.

The Health & Safety team started on-site PAUSE training in July 2019. As with any new process, it will take some time to get it ingrained into our culture but the expectation is everyone will immediately begin using the process once trained.

That said, be prepared to PAUSE for safety.