Avoid Complacency on the Job Site

Don’t let little things slip in the name of saving time and money

Avoid Complacency on the Job Site

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What is complacency in the workplace? It can be defined as self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. Complacency is extremely dangerous in the workplace. You get so used to things being done the same way that you do not always look at the hazards in your surroundings. 

One of the dangers of being complacent is that we become so accustomed to being around hazards that they no longer seem to pose a threat to our safety. Many workers are aware of the risks they are exposing themselves to but have accepted the risk and don’t feel threatened by the risks. This is a dangerous mindset and a reason for many workplace injuries.  

There is a reason complacency is called the “silent killer.” At the workplace the name fits. When our mind is not on the task at hand and the hazards that exist, we can drift into thinking about other things. This is when the real danger can get you. It just takes a split second and many times you have little to no time to react.  

Part of our human nature is that we become “creatures of habit” and we get comfortable doing the same thing day in and day out. We perform the same job tasks over and over, and when nothing bad happens we begin to believe we are in a good place and think nothing of the hazards we have exposed ourselves to.

Overcoming complacency

  • Get back to how safely you once worked when you recognized the hazards before complacency set it. That time when you always wore your PPE and always followed the safety polices in place to protect you.
  • Ask co-workers if there are areas in which you may be complacent when it comes to working safely. You might be surprised by the responses you get.
  • Refuse to take the easy way out, which is often the case when you get in a hurry or feel the pressure to get the job done. The safety policies are in place for a reason. Follow them for your protection.
  • Fight the desire to rationalize why you should cut corners, which can leave you open to hazards. Saving costs or time are usual rationalizations that may sound like good ideas but are not worth the risks in the end.
  • Be willing to take the extra steps to make being safe a habit that will keep you from becoming complacent in the first place. Once it becomes a habit you are less likely to become complacent when a hazard exists. 

We all must fight complacency at different times whether it is at work or some other areas in our lives. The best way to combat complacency is to self-monitor yourself and see if there are areas where you can improve in, especially when it comes to workplace safety. The good news is complacency can be overcome. With enough effort you’ll always be working in a safe environment.

About the author: Ronnie Freeman is safety director for Mount Pleasant (South Carolina) Waterworks and Safety Committee chair for the Water Environmental Association of South Carolina.


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