Stay Safe: Stay within Your Work Plan
When you're working on a project, it's easy—and seems more efficient—to extend what you're doing to get just a bit more done. However, doing that extra task outside the defined project scope can put you, your colleagues, or the environment at unacceptable risk. Don't do any job without planning it out.
Potential hazards for any project are identified before work begins, based on the scope of work to be done, and controls are put in place to mitigate them. If you are unsure of the consequences of a task then you need to stop and re-evaluate. We’ve had several situations where workers have taken the initiative to do work beyond the initially evaluated scope, with good intent, but unfortunate results.
For example, a couple of years ago, a job was planned to mow a field. The area to be mowed was clearly identified, and hazards were evaluated & mitigated. The day’s task was completed early and there was more area to mow, so the worker simply extended the work to an un-scoped area, without contacting the service manager to discuss the change in scope. The chain from the mower ended up hitting concrete rubble, causing sparks and starting a small grass fire. Had the service manager been notified, the new area (expanded scope of work) would have been assessed to determine whether any hazards existed that required mitigation. This would have identified the presence of the concrete.
This is just an example. Take a moment to think about how a comparable situation might exist with your work. Stick to your planned scope of work, because those are the boundaries by which the hazards were evaluated and controlled. Talk to your supervisor or your organization’s Environment, Safety and Health Coordinator if you have questions or suggestions.
—Leslie Stepanek, ES&H Division