After injuring my hand, I thought about all the different reasons why the injury occurred. Beyond the obvious procedural items, there was one cause I found interesting. In sports, one of the items they coach is understanding the relationship between energy level and awareness. That is because peak performance is not about maximum energy or effort at all times. It is about knowing what level of energy is appropriate for the given job because, as your energy level increases, the range of your awareness shrinks. 

For example, in football, a pass rusher can raise their energy level because the only point of focus is to get to the quarterback as fast as possible. On the other hand, a quarterback cannot do that because they need to see the full field of play. That is why the best quarterbacks often seem "relaxed" or calm in the field of play. It is essential for them to control their energy level and see the full field of play. So, where is the connection to safety?

When you are working and something unexpected happens, we often continue the job, with more effort. A bolt still won't turn so we push harder on the wrench; the stud won't fit exactly in place so we hammer a little harder. What happens though, is that our immediate response raises our energy level and we become less aware of our surrounding environment. That reduction of awareness, actually raises our risk of injury.

So, instead of responding right away, when something unexpected occurs, take a quick step back and re-survey the situation. Make sure you are fully aware of the surrounding environment and any risks before re-engaging in the job. When I increased my focus on making the troublesome drywall piece snap, I lost site of my utility knife - hence the three stitches. Had I taken a step back to re-balance my energy, I probably would have put the utility knife down, adjusted my approach and got the job done without injury.

By not dismissing the incident as a minor event or fluke, I ended up learning an interesting lesson about energy management in the workplace.