It has been said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I think the metric safety equivalent might be a gram of safety prevention avoids a pile of HURT. HURT is an acronym I created a couple years ago that defines the most common causes of preventable injuries.

Causes of Preventable Injuries

H – Hurried Decision or Action

U – Unknown or Unaddressed Hazard

R – Respect for Self, Tools, Process & Environment

T – Tool Selection or Usage

If you can simply remember HURT you likely won’t have to experience it. If you’re neglecting any one of these four elements you can be susceptible to injury. When you neglect more than one you’re likely going to end up HURT.

Hurried Decision or Action – Sometimes we do things without appropriate consideration to the impact of the decision. We decide the speed of the decision or activity outweighs the importance of the safety that would generally be present. The big decisions in life have us deep in thought, but often it’s the small hurried decisions that have a profound negative impact.

Unknown or Unaddressed Hazard – As a young worker or someone new to a trade or process there may be things that are unknown to us. One of the responsibilities of a supervisor is to ensure the unknowns are taken care of, usually through training. If you are a young worker ensure you are comfortable with a task before you take it on. Remember you have the right to refuse unsafe work.

Unaddressed hazards are really a by-product of laziness. Thinking you can get away with not doing something you know is part of the required steps. This has an element of complacency and an element of avoidance … not good building blocks for a long injury free life. Addressing hazards also includes a communication aspect so others are made aware of the hazard.

Respect for Self, Tool, Process & Environment – If you find yourself willing to sacrifice your body so that some object doesn’t get damaged, perhaps you haven’t investigated all the options or thoroughly thought out the cost of your action. I have had numerous people ask me after a presentation “Do you think [this activity] is dangerous?”; if you find yourself asking this question, it likely is dangerous and there is likely a better way to carry out your current action. Respect for tools or equipment boils down to proper usage and adherence to safety standards. Respect for process means you shouldn’t be looking for how to cut corners to save time if it results in a safety risk. Respect for environment may again be expanded to include complacency in environments that have hazards we need to be aware of.

Tool Selection or Usage – Sometimes a crescent wrench isn’t the right tool. Sometimes we endeavor to use equipment that is nearby instead of what’s safe. Then there are other times we are using the right tool, but we are not using it in a safe manner.

In the case of my injury, I was guilty of transgressions regarding each one of these elements which resulted in a whole pile of HURT. Analyze some of the injuries or the close calls you’ve had … do they fit into one of these four causes? Is there a specific area that you more commonly fail on? What can you do to bring yourself into correction? How can you avoid getting HURT?

© Duane Janiskevich 2013

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