Complacency can be a factor in near misses, injuries and fatalities in the workplace. For example, workers may skip steps in a procedure because they’re rushing, bored or lazy. They may also fail to pay proper attention while doing a task they’ve done thousands of times before without any issues. But all it takes is one problem or hiccup for a routine task to suddenly become dangerous.
Signs of worker complacency may include not using required PPE, unsafe use of equipment or skipping steps that should be performed to ensure safety and quality.
Safety professionals should take steps to address worker complacency before it becomes a serious problem. You should enlist the help of your frontline supervisors, who work closely with workers. Give them these suggestions on ways they can combat safety complacency:
- Practice what you preach. Be a role model. If your workers see you working unsafely or not wearing PPE, what message does that send to them?
- Engage all workers in reporting unsafe conditions or near misses. Quickly respond to all concerns. And during your safety meetings, mention safety issues that have been raised and discuss what has been done to address them.
- Encourage your workers to watch out for one another and say something to co-workers they see working unsafely or taking shortcuts. These interactions should be respectful, with a focus on expressing concern for the other person’s safety.
- Encourage workers to plan ahead before starting any task. They should think about what could go wrong and how to protect themselves from workplace hazards.
- Encourage workers to share their ideas for safety improvements during safety meetings.
- Invite workers to be part of the OHS program by leading or co-leading a safety meeting or joining your JHSC.
Go to SafeSupervisor.com for more tips, resources and other tools to help supervisors promote a safety culture in their workplaces.