The importance of equipment operators focusing on work & forgetting the distractions
by Katie Mackey
December 19, 2017

to believe in their players so much that they leave them in too long, and the game is lost.

A site supervisor may need to take the same approach with an operator because he/she may have lost his/her edge. Depending on how the situation is handled, the operator can come back strong, once his/her head is clear. A greater hazard can be created by intimidating, chastising or embarrassing him/her, especially in front of peers. Regardless, you certainly don’t want an environment where good operators fear for their job or a loss of pay because of external distractions that create safety concerns.

In the standards, the only place mental distractions are alluded to is the ASME B30.5 Chapter 5 Qualifications for Operators, which requires an operator to pass a physical examination that meets the criteria: “No evidence of physical defects or emotional instability that could render a hazard to the operator or others …” While an operator may have passed the physical exam and met the qualifications, is he/she emotionally stable? Is emotional stability a concern in John’s case of a temporary distraction? Any operator with a true passion for safety and concern for others on the site should know to either step down and excuse himself/herself for a day or so, or to mentally put the distraction aside until the work is finished.

Planning for Success

In order to mitigate both external and internal distractions, one must not only be able to recognize concerns, but also have a plan in place to address them when necessary. Where does the organization stand on the use of cellphones by operators and crews? Is there a policy against it? Do employees abide by it? Does each worker manage himself/herself, or is it seen as a nonissue? What about emotionally distracted employees, how are these situations handled?

Preemptively talk to employees and operators about the importance of keeping their head in the game. A little preparation before encountering of these types of diversions will help the jobsite run smoother and stay a safer place.