Risk Assessing Mental Presence in the Workplace

by Michael Weston

Is there a connection between your mental presence and your safety at work?

When we turn up at our workplaces each day, there is an expectation from our employers and our colleagues that we present each day fit-for-work.

We would usually relate being fit-for-work as solely being physically fit as opposed to being mentally well and/or mentally present…and it’s now time to place a greater focus on our mental presence.

On reflection in my time as a leader of people and teams, there were unfortunately times when safety incidents would result in damage to equipment or people being injured. When I reflect on the incident investigation outcomes, in many cases speaking to the person directly involved in the incident event, the person not being mentally present during the task was certainly a main contributing factor.

If I was able to turn back time. I would have the people in my teams include their current state of mental presence in their risk assessments prior to undertaking any tasks at work.

You see, we have been educated that we need to be fit-for-work and how to risk assess the task we are about to perform with the inclusion of the environment that we undertake the task within; however, one of the key risks is whether we are mentally present when carrying out on the job tasks. If our minds are not on the job then we are exposing both us and others to risks.

Next time you are conducting a risk assessment prior to undertaking a task, think about your mental presence.

Are there things in your life that are taking your mind off the job?

If there is, then stop the task you are undertaking until you can return to being 100% present on the job.

From a leaders perspective, it’s about identifying those that have fronted to work, perhaps with changes in their characteristics, mannerisms, appearing vacant or daydreaming. In these circumstances, it is the perfect opportunity to start a conversation with the person. Share your concerns about whether their minds are present and on the task at hand.

As a leader, you have the ability to listen and provide support for the person in order to get their minds back to where it needs to be, which is the task at hand.

A mind that is present will contribute to a safe workplace.

mental health, michael weston
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