How can “one step back” protect you from accidents?

April 28, 2021

In construction environments, there is an underlying risk for workplace-related accidents such as tripping, falling, or being hit by vehicles or moving objects. Any risk or hazard needs to be removed and mitigated with a proactive mindset. We try to identify and mitigate these risks in our project risk assessments prior to starting any work, but it is always good to look at your working area with the known hazards in mind before starting.

The StepBack process is a guided field-level hazard assessment tool used by Linxon to identify hazards and activate control measures in a consistent and systematic manner.  And the methodology is easy enough: All personnel on-site are prompted to step back two meters and take two minutes to think critically about their working environment. Work teams or individuals shall participate in the StepBack process at the start of each day when starting a new task or activity and/or when the scope of work or hazard conditions have changed. StepBack is a documented discussion of the HSE hazards, associated controls, and subsequent risk levels associated with the planned work for that shift/day.

The activities of every team member, as well as the activities of anyone else within the same area, are identified, documented on a dedicated StepBack card.

The StepBack leads to direct actions of different nature, such as:

  • Removal: Complete removal of a hazard
  • Replacement: Replacing the material or process with a less hazardous one
  • Engineering: Designs or modifications to reduce the exposure to the hazard
  • Administrative: Limit exposure to hazardous conditions or energies by procedural means (e.g. timing of work, policies, signage, and work practices)
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Last line of defense: hazards are still present, and PPE is used to reduce the potential for harm.


When collecting the cards, we also get an overall view of potentially unsafe behaviors and conditions, helping us to create an even safer working environment for our teams.