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Leave Yourself an Out Toolbox Talk

Brief your crews on how to plan a way out of a hazardous situation on the jobsite.

Leave Yourself an Out Safety Talk

The concept of leaving yourself an out is exactly what it sounds like: Never put yourself in a dangerous situation without a way out. When working on the jobsite, there are many hazards that can put you in the line of fire. You should always be aware of your surroundings and have a plan in place for reacting to emergencies.

Which way would you go, and how would you escape? If more workers take the time to identify a way out, many incidents, injuries, and fatalities can be avoided.

What is leaving yourself an out?

Defining what “leaving yourself an out” means is simple. An out is the predetermined steps you'll take if danger comes your way. It's a set of actions you define in advance to escape serious injury or death.

There may be no time to come up with an exit plan by the time you identify a dangerous situation. That is why it is so important to plan in advance before starting any hazardous tasks. “Leaving yourself and out” may save your life in a dire situation.

Examples of leaving yourself an out

Having a plan for what you will do in the event a potential hazard becomes reality on the construction site is an important part of protecting yourself and your coworkers. Let's look at some examples of situations where “leaving yourself an out” is an essential safety strategy.

Dropped loads

Common types of heavy equipment that are used to move heavy loads on a construction site include forklifts, cranes, and front loaders. These machines pose heavy equipment hazards that put the people operating them, surrounding them, and below them at risk.

No one should ever be close enough to a machine moving a load to be injured by the load or have a load moving above their heads. There should always be some type of barrier that is blocking off the areas in which loads are being moved or transferred. However, if you are working in an area where heavy machinery like a forklift is being operated, you should have an exit plan in place just in case something goes wrong. You should plan in advance the route you will take to safely exit the work area if the heavy machinery gets too close, or if the load is dropped.

Operating a vehicle near heavy equipment

You may need to operate a truck or another vehicle on the jobsite premises. Road vehicles are smaller than most pieces of heavy equipment, so a person operating heavy equipment on the jobsite may not see you until it is too late.

If you do not have a planned out in a situation like this, you can very easily be stuck, injured, or killed. Make sure you know how you will safely exit your vehicle and get away from danger in the event someone operating heavy machinery does not see you.

Always be prepared and aware of where you are standing

It is important to always be aware of your surroundings and where you are standing on the construction site. Look to see who is working around you and take notice of what they are doing. This way you will be able to assess if you are in direct lines of fire.

When you are aware of what is going on around you, you will be more prepared if something goes wrong and you need to get to safety quickly.

Line of fire scenarios

Some of the most common line of fire scenarios in construction are being stuck-between, stuck-in, struck-by, or released energy accidents.

  • Stuck-in/caught-between - A worker could be pinned by a piece of heavy equipment, a load, or a vehicle that was on the construction site

  • Struck-By - A worker could be hit by a load that is being carried, dropped, or even a piece of heavy equipment

  • Released Energy - An unexpected or uncontrolled release of energy could cause a burn or other injuries.

All of these scenarios can result in minor injuries, major accidents, or fatalities. Having an out could help you to prevent incidents or lessen the severity of an injury.

What to do if you see an unsafe situation at work

There are safety rules and guidelines put into place by OSHA, NIOSH, and your business itself, but that doesn’t mean all employees abide by them. It is your responsibility to stay aware of your surroundings and alert others to hazards in the work area.

If you are on the worksite and notice that someone is either in an unsafe area, working under dangerous situations, or in the line of fire, you should immediately make them aware and alert your employer, manager, or supervisor.

All employees should do their best to protect themselves and those around them.

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