4 Steps to Workplace Safety OODA Loop

Get in the Loop

In recent weeks we’ve learned to identify hazards, keep hazardous attitudes in check, and evaluate risks. Now we’re going to look at how we can standardize the decision-making process in potentially hazardous situations to get consistent outcomes. One of the fastest and most efficient ways to do this is by using the OODA Loop. Always keep in mind that any construction site will be extremely loud and one thing that must be protected for safety is your ears, finding some ear safety plugs is important because eardrums are delicate and people can be put in harm’s way if they are not aware.

workplace safety ooda loopWorkplace Safety is the result of consistent, excellent performance. A pre-rehearsed method for staying safe is especially important when things get busy. Rather than having to figure everything out on the fly, you can fall back on a prewritten process. This is especially relevant as it can help guide you through any dangerous situations. The OODA Loop provides a quick and efficient way to look at the decision-making process.

The OODA Loop is a four-step process that was developed by Colonel John Boyd, United States Air Force – Retired. It is an effective tool that helps improve situational awareness, make consistent/thoughtful decisions, and improve safety. While companies try their best to keep their employees safe through training and supervision, accidents do sometimes occur. Accidents that happen through human error are more common and can result in construction site injury. So, when it comes to construction safety, some construction sites find that using construction project management software could help keep track of their workers and the jobs they are required to do as well as whether or not the worker is trained enough to do such a task.

Achieve the desired outcome through a continuous, conscious, and methodical approach to making informed decisions. Boyd’s briefings were originally intended for the United States Military Services. However, in the years since then, these ideas have travelled into the Business, Law, and Higher Education sectors. Consequently, the OODA Loop concept is applicable to many other aspects of our professional and personal lives.

The Loop provides immediate feedback throughout the decision-making process. The four steps of the OODA Loop are as follows;

Workplace Safety OODA Loop

O – Observe

O – Orient

D – Decide

A – Act

  • Observe – Reflects the need for situational awareness, detecting changes that are happening around us. Whether we are on the roof installing equipment on a project site, operating machinery in a factory, formulating strategic plans, or simply driving to work in the morning, we need to continuously monitor our surroundings. Knowing what is happening and what may be coming, is the first step to being ready for it. We also need to communicate important information to our colleagues which can be done by using equipment such as a 2 way radio. Once you’ve observed something that could be dangerous to your colleagues, you need to tell them as soon as possible. Awareness of the situation and your surroundings provides us with a constant reference point, and the ability to apply the next step, Orient.
  • Orient – Focuses attention on hazards, abnormal conditions, discrepancies, or challenges in our environment. Therefore the individual is aware of the situation or event at this time, and can consider the available options. Looking at all of these options is what allows us to make the right decision.
  • Decide – Decide is where the individual makes a positive determination about a specific effect and chooses an option. As a result, the actor bases his/her decision on experience and knowledge of potential results. Consequently, they take a particular action that will produce the desired result. The individual then Acts on that decision.
  • Act – The physical input to achieve the desired result. The last step is also the action step. This is where the individual would jump out of the way of the falling item or extinguish a fire.

Consequently, once the loop is completed, the individual is once again in the Observe position. The person then adds the action assessment to the previously perceived aspects of his/her environment. The individual is now more familiar with that situation. Furthermore, he/she will be more prepared for the next time a similar incident occurs.

The Advantage of the OODA Loop

Finally, the biggest advantage of the OODA Loop model is that it is cumulative, and allows for multiple progressions to occur at any given point with regard to the event or situation. The OODA Loop is always building with each new incident added to a person’s experiences. As a rooftop contractor, the crew at Moffitt works together and pools their experiences. Combining these experiences, and working together, is what makes them a team.

Most of all, understand the OODA Loop and how it plays out in your head. Consider some common situations you encounter and think through the steps ahead of time. Remember, the next time someone says “keep me in the loop”, think OODA Loop.

Visit the Moffitt Corporation and Moffitt Mechanical blog for more construction safety tips from the leading ventilation contractors.

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