October 19, 2022

Fighting Safety Complacency

Guest Author: Joseph Bolle, Senior Safety Manager, Excellerate

Complacency starts small but can become a big problem. This is true in many aspects of life, but on a job site, complacency can lead to serious safety concerns.

Unless you are someone who always has a spotless car, this scenario should sound familiar. Imagine the last time you cleaned your car inside and out. You vacuumed, wiped everything down, went through the car wash or did your own scrubbing and hosing – the whole nine yards. You look at your clean car thinking wow, this is nice, I’m not going to let it get dirty again. On the drive home you see a puddle and go around it to keep your car clean.

The chilly fall air has arrived, so the next day you grab a light jacket for your morning commute. By afternoon its beautiful, so you throw your jacket in the back and think, “I’ll take it out it tomorrow.” But you do not. Football season is here, and you have a fantasy football draft, so you hop in your car with all your paperwork and lists and magazines. You have the draft, after party, etc., and it ends late, so you throw everything back in the car thinking “I’ll grab it tomorrow.” Again, you don’t. On your way home from work the next week, you pick up food at a drive through. With everything else piling up in your car, you don’t even realize that you left the empty bag and food wrappers in the car on your way out. By the time you realize how messy your car is, you’re left with another huge cleanup process.

Complacency within the workplace affects us in much the same way, but the consequences can be far more severe. It may start with what may seem to be a small housekeeping issue, such as running out of PPE at the place it’s usually located. That leads to a PPE violation, and to an injury. When we avoid complacency and do not allow even a seemingly minor housekeeping issue, we can more clearly see potential safety issues as they arise and correct them well before they lead to an injury.

In the construction and manufacturing industries, the repetitive nature of our work can lead us to complacency. It takes a very conscious effort to fight against it. This is one of the reasons our daily operational risk management (ORM) meetings are so critical to our safety process. They force us to look at the things we do every single day and be sure that we’re seeing them with safety at the forefront. They give us the opportunity to avoid complacency before it creates a ripple effect that can result in an injury. It is up to each of us to use the opportunity and continually bring potential safety concerns forward.

At FTI, we work to stay focused and fight against complacency, so that we can all work safely each day.