The CLS Concept

The goal of Construction LifeSaver is simple: to eliminate Severe Injuries and Fatalities (SIFs) in the construction industry. In recent years, innovative safety measures and training have done well to decrease the number of minor accidents on job sites, but the frequency of SIFs has remained unchanged. On average, three workers die each day on the job. That’s not good enough. So, Construction LifeSaver is leading the charge to make sure workers have the training they need to avoid getting seriously injured or killed.

            Construction LifeSaver’s focus is on the individual worker. Companies can eliminate a number of hazards on the job site through improving their processes and culture, but ultimately, safety comes down to the decisions made by each worker – top to bottom. Therefore, our approach is to look at an individual’s behavior and see how we can shape it in order to empower every single worker on site to make decisions that protect themselves and promote the safety of their fellow workers. Construction sites are complex and unpredictable, so workers must be able to plan for hazards in advance and to adapt to new ones as they inevitably arise.

            Part of the CLS philosophy is that our brains are often our biggest safety hazard because so much of our thinking occurs behind the scenes and beyond our perception. Most of the time, we make decisions automatically or act out habits, so we don’t have to spend too much energy thinking things through. This is okay as long as those automatic processes are aligned with safety, but often, that’s not the case. On the other hand, we sometimes lock in on one task and ignore all other cues, giving us situational blindness that makes us miss important safety information. On top of that, our culture, experience, knowledge, motivations, and beliefs provide nearly-invisible influences on how we think and make decisions. If these influences are at all off-base, we might be prone to making unsafe decisions without even knowing it.

            Built on research within the field of behavioral psychology, CLS aims to take advantage of how our brains work and train workers in behavioral best-practices that help them make safe decisions. This means shaping those automatic processes and subconscious influences as well as making sure individuals learn to routinely take their brains out of autopilot to check how they are responding to safety issues. The end goal is to improve each worker’s situational awareness and their ability to recognize and properly address hazards. CLS has three primary strategies for achieving this.

            First, we’ll introduce workers to the OODA Loop. The OODA Loop is a decision-making tool developed by U.S. pilot and military-strategist John Boyd to help fighter pilots engaged in dog-fights make critical decisions faster than their enemies. In the construction industry, we can use the OODA Loop to improve situational awareness and hazard recognition. OODA stands for observe, orient, decide, and act. In order to remain situationally aware, you must “observe” your environment, “orient” to potential hazards – meaning, interpret your observations and recognize hazards – “decide” how best to mitigate hazards, and then “act,” or carry out your decision. Continuously running the OODA Loop helps combat perceptual errors that overlook hazards and cause situational blindness.

            Habit training is another core principle of CLS. Our brains thrive off implementing habits to keep us working without having to spend too much energy on processing decisions. This is great when we have good habits and potentially deadly when we have bad ones. So, we aim to expose habits for what they are and to exploit the habit cycle – cue, routine, and reward – to break bad habits and develop safe ones. 

            Thirdly, in order to make the most of the OODA Loop and to develop safe habits, workers need a wealth of safety knowledge. We can observe our work area, but if we don’t know what is safe or unsafe, we’ll never orient to hazards properly, and we definitely won’t be able to decide on how to safely respond to them. Likewise, we need to know the difference between safe and unsafe habits if they’re going to lead to safe behavior. So, CLS focuses on teaching safety knowledge that enables individual workers to recognize hazards and respond to them properly. 

CLS is more than just another form of compliance training. Instead, we put compliance training into practice and make the abstract concrete. To do this, we employ experiential learning methods and embrace immersive technology. This includes virtual reality systems that put learners into real-world scenarios where they can interact with hazardous environments that would otherwise be too costly and dangerous to expose them to. It also includes mobile apps that workers can access whenever is convenient or necessary.  Through technology, CLS connects workers with knowledge and training that readily translates to their work environments and is easily accessible.

Lastly, the CLS approach is to make safety personal. Everyone has their own reasons why safety matters to them, whether it’s going home to family in one piece or being able to keep up with their hobbies on the weekends. What’s important is to have the individual workers decide why safety is important to them and then turn those reasons into motivation for taking safety seriously.

CLS provides a new approach to improving worker safety in the construction industry. By shaping individual behavior through immersive training methods grounded in psychological research, we will begin to see the number of SIFs on job-sites move toward the ultimate goal of zero.