Complacency and Fatigue: Safety Topics - August 2018 - Week 4


Disconnecting from the task at hand can often be dangerous and create hazards. Hazards can be both physical and mental causes of serious injury. Pressure to perform well, frustration in your personal life, and fatigue are some of the most common mental causes of physical harm. This week we will focus on decreasing mental hazards by identifying their most common forms and offering easy solutions for slowing down and staying on track at work and at home.

Monday - Complacency

Complacency can cause:

  • Dangerous situations
  • Loss of focus
  • Loss of traction, grip, and balance

Complacency occurs when a worker becomes too comfortable with a task. After doing the same task every day, it is easy to build tolerance levels to the risks associated with the task. The more confident a worker is in their job, the less risky the task. Unfortunately, this confidence can lead to less awareness of hazards. Bad practices can become the norm if this false sense of security sets in.

A worker tends to complete routine jobs on autopilot and begin to ask themselves questions unrelated to the work, such as “What should I make for supper? Do I need to run errands after work? What needs to be done when I get home?” This mental behavior does not stop until the worker realizes they have drifted off into thought or, much worse, an incident involving themselves or others has occurred.

Pre-assessment of the situation before completing the job is a good practice to implement. Have a look around to identify hazards before beginning. No matter how many times the task has been completed before, it is always a good idea to assess the situation again.

Tuesday - Frustration

Frustration is a common emotional response and can be caused by anger, annoyance, or disappointment in the outcome of a situation. The phrase often associated with this is “one step forward and two steps back”.

There are two types of frustration:

  • Internal which is caused by confidence, negative thinking, daily stress, and situational or environmental factors.
  • External which is caused by time, physical roadblocks, difficult tasks, and a lack of adequate supplies or tools required for a task

Wednesday – Fatigue

There are two common types of fatigue: mental and physical. Fatigue is commonly confused with drowsiness when the two are very different. Fatigue is the amount of energy that is lost and not regained during resting periods. This can lead to inactivity and motivation loss.

Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Fatigue:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Forgetfulness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Tender lymph nodes
  • Sore throat
  • Headache

Thursday – Rushing

The feeling of constant pressure to complete a task quickly, rushing not only reduces the quality of the completed task, it also increases the chances that an accident will occur. Rushing actually makes workers less productive. 

Whether working in an office or on the shop floor, here are some ways to help you slow down and stay on track:

  • Take advantage of breaks and step back from a task and clear your mind. Use this time to eat and replenish energy.
  • Make sure to set time aside for yourself. Me time is important!
  • Unplug from electronics. Turn your cell phone off, set it aside, and connect with those close to you.
  • Do something new! Disrupting a familiar schedule can be a good way to live in and take advantage of the moment.
  • Meditation can help you gain a balance between relaxation and peace.

Friday – Free Speech Friday

Have you noticed lately that you are rushing around more and more as you anticipate your well-deserved time off? Are you rushing to get all your tasks done so that you can leave early on Friday afternoon? Is it worth it to rush through and possibly finish a half hour earlier? Is your mind actually on task?

Take the time to stop and think:

  • What can go wrong if I rush?
  • Who will this impact?
  • Am I actually saving time?
  • How much more time will I waste redoing a project if done incorrectly the first time?
  • Are a few extra minutes of me time worth risking the chance of an injury?

Discuss with others what you do to keep your mind focused on the task at hand. What are some strategies you have learned and can share with others? If you notice someone rushing or hurrying through a task without regard to hazards, stop that person. Step back together, analyze the situation, and find opportunities to work safely.

Tags: safety topics , health and wellness , injury prevention , personal home safety ,

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