Slow Down for Workplace Safety: Take 5 to Save 5

Michelle MachenMauser News, Safety

At Mauser Packaging Solutions, the health and safety of our employees one of our core values. Despite year-over-year improvement in key safety metrics, employees continue to experience a high percentage of recordable injuries to hands and fingers. Many these injuries are caused by poor personal control of hazards, particularly when doing routine work. Personal planning to identify and control hazards takes practice and can always be improved. When performing any task, especially routine activities, it is important to slow down and think carefully before, during and after each job.


Many injuries can be prevented by taking time to ensure hazards are mitigated before starting a job. One way to do this is by practicing “Take 5 to Save 5”.

“Take 5 to Save 5” is essentially an individual, mental Job Safety Analysis (JSA) to be conducted before starting a task. It encourages employees to take the time to identify and think about the hazards they may face before starting a job and helps to promote a culture of effective hazard management through training and by encouraging people to continually evaluate the safety of their actions throughout the workday. “Take 5 to Save 5” focuses on taking time before conducting a task to specifically protect the five fingers on each hand but the practice will prevent other injuries as well.

This informal personal planning process is based on a principle of engaging the mind before the hands. The practice is fundamentally centred on two basic actions:

  1. Step back 5 paces from the task to look at the big picture and evaluate the area in which you are working. This enables awareness of potential hazards and helps avoid tunnel vision.
  2. Take time (5 minutes) to think through the task and anticipate any hazards that you may face or may develop. During this time:
    • Think about your safety while observing the work area and surroundings.
    • Think about what you are going to do.
    • Think about what else is happening in the area or nearby.
    • Identify anything that might go wrong.
    • Refer to the Job Safety Analysis as necessary, particularly for non-routine tasks.
    • Satisfy yourself that all hazards are controlled before starting work.
    • Consider conducting a pre-job briefing with other workers for complex tasks.

When conducting a task that is routine or familiar it is easy to be distracted or let our mind wander to other things. Remaining intentionally focused on the task at hand is an effective way to prevent injuries.

  • Make a conscious effort to remain aware of what is happening around you. Be aware that when performing a routine task, it is easy to get into an automatic mode of operation and develop tunnel vision.
  • Stop and investigate. If something doesn’t feel, look or sound right, then it probably isn’t.
  • Take short regular breaks to re-focus on the job, work environment and related hazards. Be intentional about your focus when a job is coming to a conclusion or a natural break when we are more likely to get distracted.
  • Remain alert to things that may be changing and other employees coming in and out of your work area.
  • Be aware of hand placement at all times – especially the non-dominant hand which may not be doing work.
  • Ask not to be interrupted or distracted while engaged in work that requires complete concentration and show the same courtesy to others.

Taking time to reflect on the work performed after completing a task helps prevent injuries in the future. Observe the work area to identify any hazards that were created and need to be addressed before work is conducted in the area again. Reflect on how the job went to identify actions or circumstances that could have led to injury. Determine how to avoid these risks in the future.

Employee safety is our greatest interest - above production, quality, costs, and service. While it may be easy to feel rushed or speed through routine tasks, no time saved is ever worth the cost of an injury. We all have a responsibility to slow down and ensure that tasks are completed safely. Don’t be in a hurry to get hurt.