August Safety Tip
August 2018 Safety Tip: Complacency
Complacency can be defined as self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. Complacency is extremely dangerous in the workplace. We get so used to things being done the same way that we do not always look at the hazards in our surroundings. We may also underestimate the risk of tasks that we perform regularly, or fail to notice a change in our environment when we become complacent in our daily routines.
When working on the job, there is danger when a person goes on auto-pilot. All too often we don’t realize how complacent we are until we have a near miss or incident. When something like this happens, it jumpstarts our heart and then we refocus our attention.
Most incidents are caused by unsafe acts. Companies and employees work hard to create a safe workplace and eliminate unsafe acts. But what happens to one’s own unsafe behavior? When workers begin to work in auto-pilot mode, and stop paying attention to what they are doing, that can lead to taking short cuts and taking risks.
If employees aren’t thinking about what could go wrong every day, all day while they work, they are not completing the task safely.
- Encourage employees to examine equipment, procedures and the hazards that may exist. They need to focus physically and mentally on their work, no matter how many times they may have done the same job in the past.
- Train workers to think ahead as they approach each task and consider:
- What they are working with
- What they will be doing
- Where they will be going
- What could go wrong
- Recognize work tasks that you may be so used to doing that you no longer take the same precautions when performing them. Think back to when you first got this job or the first time you did a specific task; were you more cautious or did you follow more safety procedures?
- Audit yourself or even have a coworker audit your work to see what your shortcomings may be when completing work tasks. Having someone else give you constructive feedback can help give you an honest look at where you can improve.
- Fight the urge to take the easy way out or make the easier decision when it comes to following safety rules or procedures. Rationalizing why you should allow yourself to cut corners leaves you open to more risk. Hold yourself and others around you accountable to do what needs to be done.
- Once you realize what risks you are leaving yourself exposed to begin to make it a habit to take the steps that mitigate or eliminate that hazard. Once an action is repeated over and over and has become a habit, it becomes automatic and it is much less likely you will have to face complacency to get yourself to do it.
We all have to face and fight off complacency from time to time. It is important to monitor yourself when it comes to complacency on the job. What corners are you cutting? Why are you cutting those corners? What do you need to address in order to resist complacency with the hazards of your work?