Did you know there are four particular states of mind that have been found to lead to incidents?
When you're rushing, frustrated, fatigued, or lulled into a sense of safety with complacency, you can find yourself more likely become involved in an incident if you're doing a safety-sensitive task. That could be anything from working with a hand tool (hammer to the thumb -- ouch!), setting up an extension ladder, driving, or operating heavy equipment, such as a forklift.
1. Rushing - When you're in a hurry, mistakes can multiply fast, and more than that, your mind is probably not on the task at hand. You're probably hurrying along for a reason. You're worried about what's next. Are you late for something or is a deadline approaching for work? Regardless of the reason, you're more worried about what's coming next than what's going on right in front of you.
2. Frustration - We've all been there. Frustration can build up from seemingly small annoyances until there's one that finally breaks the camel's back. And when we get to that point, we're not so much worried about doing the job right anymore, we're ready to let that frustration have an outlet. Learn to monitor yourself before you get to this point. Walking away before you get here is always the better choice.
4. Complacency - This one is maybe less known and probably the sneakiest.
People are absolutely great at adapting to their environment, even when their environment is high risk. What can happen is that those that work in high risk environments -- like roofers at height or tank cleaners in confined spaces -- slowly become used to the risks and fail to appreciate their environments as risky anymore. Day in and day out, the risks begin to become the everyday backdrop to their work lives. Sometimes it's important to rattle our own cages and remind ourselves of the true dangers of these risks, even if it's ever-present for these employees every day.
These mental states are normal, human experiences and they're not going to be avoided all the time. But it's important to be vigilant for them in yourselves, your coworkers, and your employees, if you're a supervisor. If you do, you just may prevent an injury or even save a life.