The context is “We will always do a TAKE 5 prior to undertaking work”. I have no idea what a “take 5” is. I searched “take 5” on Google but I didn’t find an applicable explanation.

Here is the context of the line:

  • We will never compromise safety
  • We will always wear PPE
  • We will always do a TAKE 5 prior to undertaking work
  • We will be drug and alcohol free
  • We will report all incidents and near hits
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    Take five means to take a break (nominally five minutes long). – Bradd Szonye Aug 15 '13 at 10:39
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    @Steven Try searching for “define take five.” That gives you links to several relevant definitions plus an info box: take a break for five minutes; "The musicians took five during the rehearsal" – Bradd Szonye Aug 15 '13 at 10:56
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    The way the sentence is worded, I don't think it means take five like taking a break. It sounds like some kind of business jargon, like the 5 steps to do before you start a project. – Kit Z. Fox Aug 15 '13 at 12:08
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    I don't think folks can be faulted for thinking that the meaning of a common phrase is a general reference – we just overlooked the subtlety that “do a take 5” isn't quite the same as “take five.” This is another good reason to provide context and show your research effort, by the way. – Bradd Szonye Aug 15 '13 at 12:45
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    @Bradd: I agree. In this case, "Take 5" (for safety) is a play on "Take 5" (meaning "take a 5-minute break"). Such mnemonic devices are common in workplace and public safety publications (such as the ABCs of Water Safety or BE S.A.F.E.). While this may solve the mystery, I think it also "localizes" the question, as it has to do more with corporate culture than standard English. – J.R. Aug 15 '13 at 17:30

I Googled the phrase "do a TAKE 5" and the first result I got was with respect to safety training.

It pertains to making a risk assessment of the area:

  1. Stop, step back and think
  2. Identifying the Hazard(s)
  3. Assess the level of Risk
  4. Control the Hazard(s)
  5. Proceed safely

So "doing a take 5 prior to undertaking work" would mean doing a risk assessment before undertaking work.

This makes more sense than taking a five minute break, which would be expressed as "We always take five before starting work.", and never "do a take five" which sounds very unidiomatic with respect to break taking.

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    This sounds very likely to me. Nice one. – Kit Z. Fox Aug 15 '13 at 12:16
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    Yes, either this one or yours. Depends on the original context, I suppose – would help if the OP provided some more information. – Bradd Szonye Aug 15 '13 at 12:43
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    Personal Protection Equipment ("wear PPE") and "incidents and near hits" in the original text support the correctness of this interpretation. – msw Aug 15 '13 at 17:30
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    It's called a Take 2 at my works, but the principle remains the same. Perhaps we are in a hurry. Then again, I always start any job with a tea break. – Brian Hooper Aug 17 '13 at 8:14

In business-speak, "do a take 5" is a specific meeting technique. According to the Harvard Business Review:

Do a "Take 5": For the first five minutes of a virtual meeting, everyone should take turns and talk a little about what's going on in their lives, either personally or professionally. This will help "break the ice" and set the right mood for people to listen and connect with one another.

In your context, it is probably something similar, where workmates and-or clients share something about themselves or their goals before working on a project together.

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    This does seem related to the usual meaning of “take five,” but this suggests that it does go beyond general reference. – Bradd Szonye Aug 15 '13 at 12:14
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    I'm in no doubt this is the intended sense for OP's context. Which is clearly not "General Knowledge", since at the time I write this, no other comments and answers recognise this exact meaning. Another reason for doing it is so everybody has time to get used to the other voices on an audio-only "conference call" (to avoid being distracted during the meeting proper, trying to work out who's speaking). – FumbleFingers Aug 15 '13 at 12:21
  • This is undoubtedly wrong given the context of building work compared to the answer from Matt below about hazard awareness. – Nick Aug 15 '13 at 14:34
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    Yes, Matt's answer is probably the correct one, but the original poster hadn't provided the context yet when KitFox answered this. – Bradd Szonye Aug 15 '13 at 14:50

This sounds like the now required practice of taking a "time out" for safety before beginning a surgical procedure. This practice is now required in the U.S. by JCAHO. It includes making sure that everyone understands what procedure is being performed, that they have the right patient, the right site, etc.

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