Toolbox Topic: Complacency and Safety
We need to be proactive about safety at work, not just reactive. Complacency can lead to serious safety issues in the workplace. Safety is not just about wearing hard hats and steel-toed boots. It’s about being vigilant, which means paying attention and ensuring you are aware of what is happening around you.
Definition of Complacency
Complacency is a state of mind where workers are unaware of the dangers around them. Often, complacency happens over time. Ironically, this can develop in workplaces where there have been few workplace incidents or when injuries have been minor.
Complacency the Enemy of Safety
Complacency is the enemy of safety. You must be constantly aware of potential hazards in your work environment so that you can quickly react if something happens. One way to avoid complacency is by creating a good culture of safety. All companies should have regular meetings (at least quarterly- preferably monthly, weekly, or daily) to ensure everyone is focused on safety. In addition, Job Safety Observations and Near Miss reporting can go a long way in building a good culture. Safety culture is crucial because it encourages everyone to follow the safety rules and take ownership of their own health and welfare.
What Causes Complacency?
Lots of things can cause complacency, but here are some of the big ones:
- General lack of awareness
- Personal experience – It has never happened to me
- Lack of motivation
What Are Some of the Outcomes of Complacency?
- Employees just stop following safety procedures or safe work practices
- The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) becomes inconsistent.
- The reporting of hazards and unsafe conditions decline.
How Can You Avoid Becoming Complacent?
- Become consciously aware of your surroundings. In other words, pay attention to what is going on around you.
- Look for dangers in your environment -such as a spill, a coworker who seems tired or distracted, or a machine that has been left unguarded. If your workplace has a near-miss reporting program, these are great examples of things that could cause harm but haven’t yet. So, take action before they do!
- Remember, don’t ignore warning signs just because they seem unlikely or small.
- Take breaks: One way to avoid becoming complacent is by taking regular breaks so you can rest up and refocus.
- Be vigilant when it comes to following the established safety policies and procedures.
- Actively participate in daily safety meetings.
- Wear the appropriate PPE!
- Take a “Four Second Reset” - STOP, then THINK about what you are doing and what could happen. Analyze the situation, and ACT accordingly by eliminating any dangers.
- Do not take shortcuts.
- Maintain good housekeeping and organization
Even in workplaces where incidents are rare, it does not guarantee future results, but it can be a sign of a strong safety culture, which is a good thing. Lastly, use what you have learned to today, avoid complacency and never let your guard down.