Maintaining Focus at Work

To say there are some extraordinary distractions going on right now would be an understatement. Whether we’re worried about avoiding coronavirus or getting a job done in time, it is important that all of us remember the dangers of the task at hand.

As you know, one of the main causes for accidents is lack of attention. Below are a few tips to help your employee’s regain maintain their focus at the workplace and ensure they are getting home safe each night.

A Conscious Effort
I hope at this point every company has at least had an organized discussion as to how it will handle the COVID-19 situation. Washing hands, driving personal vehicles (See Eric’s tip on personal vehicles), and minimizing face to face interactions with clients are just a few of the practices we’ve been seeing tree services implement over the last month or so.

The question is, do these changes in the way things are done have an impact on job-site safety? I’d argue that they do. It is more than likely these changes of routine have your employee’s thinking about the likelihood of them contracting the virus while at work. A wandering mind, especially in arboriculture, can have a significant impact on the likelihood of an accident.

Make sure you are continuing to perform your job-site inspections and regular safety meetings ON TOP of the discussions you’re having with regards to COVID-19. Consider how new practices can bring in new distractions, and ask your employees if there is anything they feel uncertain about with the changes. Making a conscious effort to continue a strong safety culture in regards to your actual tree work will go a long way in making sure there isn’t a spike in accidents during this period.

Emphasize Importance of Presence
According to OSHA, the top 4 causes for workplace fatalities are struck bys, caught ins, falls, and electrocutions, all of which are obvious hazards in arboriculture. It is often a split second decision that creates these hazards and it is important to stress being present to your employees while they are on the job.

Encourage your employees to take small breaks more frequently and remind them to be aware of their surroundings. Implement a checklist or a process to make sure employees are following COVID-19 guidelines prior to beginning actual work so they don’t have to multitask. Make sure, as the owner, you’re giving your crews more time to get jobs done and prioritize jobs by importance as much as possible.

Ultimately we want to be able to provide a workplace that is as close to normal so employee’s are able to focus on what is directly in front of them.

Limit Other Distractions
We’re also susceptible to distractions at the job-site outside of COVID-19 concerns. Try to limit some of the following:

1) Unnecessary Noises – It may not be the case for everyone, but foreign noises such as radio, joking around, and cell phones can be distracting to some employees, taking their mind away from what they are working on.

2) Cellphone Use – Many companies will have different standards in terms of allowing employees to use their phones. Emphasize the dangers of distracted driving if you have employees driving personal vehicles that don’t usually drive for your company, and at the very least limit cell phone use to in the vehicles when at the job-site.

3) Stay Organized – If you don’t already have one, create a system to make sure things are staying organized and delegate responsibilities to your employees to make sure their gear is in check.

4) Home Life – Create an open line of communication so employee’s know that home life comes first and you don’t want them to be worried about any issues outside of work while at a job-site.

Given the circumstances, now is a time to boost safety standards even more than before. Do what you can to make your employees feel safe at work and not be worried about COVID-19 while they are up in a bucket or operating a chipper. Limiting outside distractions as much as possible will help keep the employees present and focused on the task in front of them leading to a safer workplace.

If you have any questions on COVID-19 guidelines or concerns as to how this has impacted your business, feel free to reach out to Eric or I and we’ll do our best to help!

Written by: Malcolm Jeffris, CTSP