Just what does it mean to look at something with a “Critical Eye”? Is it to criticize or to find fault? No, that’s not the idea! By observing with a “Critical Eye” you will be making an objective and analytical evaluation of the situation rather than just being a casual observer. When you are considering how to perform a task safely, just being a casual observer takes away your opportunity to find and eliminate hazards and greatly increases your chances for injury. The most important result of observing with a “Critical Eye” is that it eliminates the impulse decisions and allows time for the mind to do the critical thinking that will lead to the best course of action. A simple way to make the best decisions regarding safety is to use the STOP method.
Stop: Step back and review the task. Are there any pinch points? Jagged edges? Hot surfaces? Are machine guards in place? Have all energy sources been locked out?
Think: How am I going to safely accomplish this task? What can possibly go wrong? Do I have all the right tools to do this job? Do I have the experience to do this job safely? Where will my hands be while doing this work and will I be able to see them at all times? Do I have the correct Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?
Observe: What are the “not so obvious” risks? Will my work create a safety hazard to others? Will their work create a safety hazard to me? Are there other process or environmental conditions that need to be considered and addressed before starting the work? Who else needs to be notified before starting this work?
Proceed: Begin your work only after completing a (Safe Plan of Action) SPA to eliminate all known and potential hazards and that controls are in place to complete the task safely.