Plan the Work and Work the Plan

By Tim McElroy

First and foremost, Pre-Task Planning (PTP) keeps people safe. It can also improve performance and the outcome of the job.

Here’s how PTP works. Before the start of any task or job, the supervisor/employee (or whoever is in charge of the project) needs to identify three main things:

  1. The task(s) that need to be completed that day.
  2. The potential hazards that could be involved in the completion of those tasks.
  3. The corrective measures that will be put in place to avoid/mitigate the identified hazards.

For example, let’s say the project task is to flat saw a six inch thick slab of concrete. One of the first things that need to be done is for the supervisor or person in charge of the project, to walk the site with the customer (and walk the site solo) to identify potential hazards, such as:

Utilities

  • Underground services: Typically when cutting concrete, Penhall Company Concrete Cutting Professionals are continually exposed to gas lines, water lines or electrical lines that could be under the concrete or asphalt or imbedded in the concrete.
  • Traffic: If the work is conducted on a street or near an area where people are driving, the crew needs to determine what kind of barriers or work area delineations needs to be put in place to protect the safety of the workers and drivers.
  • Pedestrians: Work that is conducted in public areas can expose both workers and bystanders to harm (e.g. flying objects, slip/trip hazards, exhaust fumes, etc.).

Once all the potential hazards have been identified, measures must be put in place to control the hazards. For example:

Safety Cone

  • Underground services: Call 511 (number for dig alert) and have someone come out and identify what’s underground and where it’s at.
  • Traffic: Put a truck between worker and traffic; delineate the work area using cones, etc.
  • Pedestrians: Use spotters to keep unauthorized person out the work area; vacuum slurry water immediately; etc.

Pre-Task Planning is also applied to the tools and equipment used on the job and the personal protective equipment (PPE) that the crew wears and uses. For instance, if a blade is used, one of the corrective measures to prevent someone getting cut would be to use a blade guard and to inspect the structural integrity of the blade guard.

In addition, if a situation changes while the job is underway, all workers must take a “time-out and stop work,” to conduct a new PTP to evaluate the changing hazards and to assess whether the existing corrective measures will sufficiently mitigate the hazards, or if new corrective measures need to be implemented.

Who is responsible for Pre-Task Planning?

All employees on the job.

If the job is a contract job or a job that is managed by a supervisor, the supervisor will create his/her hazards list and corrective measures. Then, during the morning “Pre-Task Planning” meeting, the supervisor will review the days plan, hazards and corrective measures and then seek input form the crew and ask if there’s anything on the PTP that they think has been left out or overlooked or needs to be added. This gives the employees the opportunity to contribute to the planning on the project that they will be working.

However, if an hourly service employee is working independently on a job, they will create their own PTP documents.

For example, here’s a list of potential hazards Penhall employees should be aware of and suggested recommendations for what corrective measures to put in place.

PRETASK PLANNER

Physical Hazards

  • Falling Objects
  • Sharp Objects
  • Walking and Working Surfaces
  • Impact From or By
  • Work Over or Near Water
  • Heavy Lifting
  • High Noise
  • Hot Surfaces

Task Specific Hazards

  • Fall from Height 6 Ft.
  • Scaffolding
  • Climbing Ladders
  • Electrical Energy
  • Excavations and Trenching
  • Confined Space Entry
  • Slips, Trips and Falls
  • Moving Machinery
  • Hand Power Tools
  • Raising and Lowering Materials
  • Floor or Wall Opening
  • Traffic
  • Pinch or Crush Points
  • Machinery Operations

Traffic and Pedestrian Control

  • Signage and Barricades
  • Flag Person
  • Arrow Boards
  • Delineations
  • Traffic Control Plan

Fall Protection and Prevention

  • Full Body Harness
  • Fall Plan
  • Vertical Life Line
  • Guard Rails
  • Retractable Lanyards
  • Lanyards
  • Hole Covers and Barricades
  • Control Access Zones

Excavation and Trenches

  • Competent Person
  • Escape Ladder
  • Barricades and Plating
  • Shoring, Sloping and Benching
  • Signage and Cones

Confined Space Entry

  • Permits Completed
  • Crew Trained
  • Ventilation
  • Atmosphere Monitored
  • Rescue Plan

Emergency and Medical

  • First Aid Kit
  • Call 911
  • Call Dispatch

Health and Housekeeping

  • Trash and Debris Contained
  • Liquids Available
  • Respirator Clean
  • Heat Stress

Pre-Task Planning is a vital part of proactive safety. But it’s not enough to just identify the hazards. Actual steps must be taken to avoid – or at least significantly reduce – the hazard.

Stay safe!

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