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Stop, Look and Move out of Line of Fire

What’s the Danger?

In the workplace, being in the wrong place at the wrong time is sometimes referred to as being in the line of fire. You can be injured or killed by your own actions or by the actions of another worker or even a stranger.

A common line of fire mistake is to be standing in the way of a closed door that could suddenly fling open. Workers have been knocked off ladders while changing light bulbs or painting in the path of a door. The solution is to prop the door open and post a warning sign.

Here are some other line of fire hazards and suggestions for avoiding them:

  • Standing too close to another worker who is wielding a tool such as a sledge hammer or a large wrench. The head could fly off the sledge hammer or the wrench could slip off the nut, sending all of its force into your body. Don’t stand in its path.
  • Standing too close to materials secured by steel bands that are under tremendous pressure. When one of these bands is cut, an end can whip around and inflict serious injury. Ensure you are wearing the appropriate PPE. If there are several straps, cut the one farthest away first, using shears with long handles. Stand well back while releasing straps.
  • Working on machinery without being certain that all of its hazardous energy sources have been safely shut down. Hazardous energy sources go beyond electricity, including hydraulic, pneumatic, mechanical, chemical and thermal energy, plus gravity. Moving a power switch to the off position or flipping a breaker switch won’t keep you safe. If it hasn’t been properly locked and tagged out, don’t go near it.

How to Protect Yourself

Before starting a job, take a moment to look around for any potential hazards. Ask yourself what could possibly go wrong and what could happen to you if you were working there.

Could you be hit by welding sparks? Is someone operating a forklift too quickly and too close for comfort? Are you standing below an elevated area where a worker could accidentally knock a heavy object off a roof or scaffolding?

Test Your Knowledge

  1. Losing awareness of your surroundings can put you directly in the line of fire.
    True or False?
  2. What is one of the hazards of working under a suspended load?
    _________________________________
  3. If you’re only going to be performing a task for a few seconds it’s fine to stand or set a ladder up in front of a closed door.
    True or False?
  4. Before working on machinery you need to ensure that all forms of ____________ have been neutralized.
  5. People operating mobile equipment always know what’s in the vicinity of their equipment and will always see and avoid people working or walking nearby.
    True or False?

A busy workplace is no place to daydream. Stay aware of your surroundings, think of how you might be in the line of fire and step away from the danger.

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