Toolbox Talks – Complacency

For this Toolbox Talk I had to look in the dictionary and found the meaning of complacency as

a feeling of quiet pleasure or security, often while unaware of some potential danger, defect, or the like;

Let’s just think about that for a second and maybe simplify it. “A feeling of security while unaware of potential danger” and now let’s apply it to our workplaces.

Many of us do the same job many times a day, and we like to think that we are skilled at doing our jobs. However if you do the same thing many times you also can become complacent at some of the hazards or risks around you.

You might do something 100 times in an environment that has lots of hazards and 100 times you get the task done. But what is happening in our brain is the risk is becoming smaller and smaller because we have not been injured or hurt.

Our brain tells us ‘We can do this job because we have done it before.’ But complacency comes into it also because our brain is not on high alert to the risks involved and because we have done it before we ‘Switch Off’ and are less aware of the hazards around us.

Complacency – Routine

So what we do is we do the task in a ‘Routine’ manner and we don’t expect anything to change or to go wrong.

My problem with this is how do we change it from being routine and mundane to making sure we do it safely and cautiously every time we do the same task.

Do we document it so that each step has to be done according to the job plan or JHA (Job Hazard Analysis) or do we make a checklist that has to be completed each time we do the job? Both of these add time and effort to the tasks.

Or do we engineer the hazards out by putting guards and isolations in place that ensure that? Even though it is a repeated procedure there is no chance that complacency can cause us to get hurt?

Or is there a combination of these solutions.

My view here is that no matter what we put in place complacency is going to be a factor in some people getting hurt. So my suggestion is to ensure that people are engaged, trained regularly, involved in providing solutions and stimulated often to avoid becoming complacent.

How do we do this?…..

Well this discussion is the start of it. Continue this discussion at your workplace and see what you can come up with to avoid complacency and stop people from getting hurt.

Check out our Toolbox Talks page for more topics.

Next: Toolbox Talks – Drugs and Alcohol

Toolbox Talks Complacency