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Never take your eye off the ball

RIDGEPRO - Never take your eye off the ball
February 17, 2024 at 9:00 a.m.

By RIDGEPRO.

The importance of situational awareness in roofing.

Think back to high school. The time is the final seconds of the game and you’re the team’s star forward. The crowd is roaring and you feel the pressure. From there it all happens in the blink of an eye. Your teammate passes the ball and if all goes according to plan, you shoot and the ball whooshes through the basket perfectly, not even touching the rim. But, at the critical moment, you look up, lose the ball in the glaring court lights and your jump is off balance. The ball bounces off the rim and is grabbed by a member of the opposing team. It doesn’t really matter if your team goes on to win the game. Your eye momentarily lost sight of the ball and you paid the price. 

There’s a name for this. When you lost sight of the ball, you lost situational awareness. Your brain lost track of your body position so you couldn’t focus on the basket. It was only a moment; probably a second or less, but that’s all it takes. Moments like that can happen anywhere including at work.  

On the roof 

For roofing crews, whether on the ground or above it, loss of situational awareness can result in an accident and possible injury. Accidents due to a loss of focus have many causes including fatigue; pressure to finish a job quickly; distractions from phones or devices, as well as stress caused by temperature or inclement weather. Safety managers, job supervisors and every crew member on a job need to stay focused and present in the moment, particularly when working above the ground. 

Good situational awareness means knowing not only where you are and what you’re doing but also what’s going on around you. Distractions are a major cause, but not the only driver, of incidents and injuries. Hyper concentration on a task, called functional fixation, can be an equal danger. For example, you’re working on a steep and complex roof with a number of gables and chimneys that need to be carefully flashed. You’re backing down the roof, caulking as you go.  

Your concentration is totally on getting a perfect seal when you forget to look before moving and you step on a tool your partner just put down. Fortunately, you were roped in and The RIDGEPRO® was firmly attached at the peak. You got to go home that night and not to the emergency department.  

It’s a team sport 

While it’s true that each crew member is responsible for being awake and aware on the job, you’re part of a team up there. You need to know, not only where you are, but what’s going on all around you. There’s no room for complacency on the job so “We’ve been working together for years” doesn’t cut it. Be ready for the unexpected. 

For the company as a whole, crews that work together consistently bring many obvious safety advantages. However, in today’s roofing environment, this kind of stability is often a luxury. A new crew member may pose risks by trying to impress supervisors or not understand certain tools or pieces of equipment. The bottom line is that there can be no compromise with safety. 

The world of sports and the world of roofing play by the same rules. Stay focused. Be a team player and never take your eye off the ball. 

Learn more about The RIDGEPRO® in their Coffee Shop Directory or visit www.theridgepro.com.



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