Don’t Let Routine & Complacency Ruin Your Good Safety Habits
How does complacency affect your perception for hazards?
Why does complacency put us at more risk? It’s not that we don’t know about the existence of hazards. In fact, we’re probably very familiar with them. But over time, we become less concerned because, after all, we’ve successfully navigated around the hazards many times without incident.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing that we don’t treat hazards with the same level of fear and respect that we initially had. In fact, we may have been overly cautious the first time we were exposed to them. But if we don’t retain an adequate level of respect for hazards, it does become a problem.
Here are some problems created by complacency.
- Loss of focus. There’s a direct link between complacency and losing focus. If you’re less concerned about a hazard it’s easy to take your mind off it.
- Risk perception is affected. Our comfort level drifts upward when things are going okay, but it drops quickly following an incident. A speeding ticket will cause most drivers to watch their speed over the subsequent weeks, but eventually many drivers drift to their original habits even though the risk of a ticket hasn’t changed.
- “It won’t happen to me”. Unfortunately, it often takes a significant near miss or serious injury for most people (and companies) to realize they’ve become too complacent. We know hazards exist, but we believe we are immune to them.
So if we’re prone to complacency, how do we fight it? For one, don’t ignore small events or work errors – these are signs of complacency that should be assessed. Look for complacency in others – if you see it, speak up. Also, acknowledge that complacency happens to all of us – a frank discussion can go a long way.