‘Complacency’: self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers of deficiencies (Merriam Webster dictionary). When applied to safety in the workplace, it’s probably more relevant to define it as the workers numbed perception of risk through habit and after a long period free from incidents. Complacency ultimately causes workers to lower their guard and cut corners affecting their safety and that of their peers. There are two key characteristics that I believe stand out: habit and unawareness.
I asked the other day in a safety forum (click here to read it) what safety professionals around the globe would recommend for addressing the causes of complacency in the workforce. Out of over fifty answers received, two solutions stood out:
- Change: switch things up, update PPE, change the look of forms and procedures, move people out of their comfort zone a bit, try to keep it fresh and interesting, simplify the processes etc.
- Exposure to the consequences: let the workforce see the effects of cutting corners, show them videos of accidents, conduct emergency drills, simulate incident investigations, invite guests that were victims of accidents to do a talk at your workplace,
Investigating and addressing a possible lack of leadership was also suggested, but I believe lack of leadership and complacency are fundamentally different issues. Complacency is the result of a habit whereas lack of leadership lowers the bar of safety requirements in the first place, it doesn’t have the habit component.
This leaves us with ‘Change’ and ‘Exposure to the consequences’ as specific tools to address complacency. Each of these actions tackle one of the key characteristics mentioned above: complacency is the result of a habit, so change things around and break the habit. And it is also caused by unawareness of the risks, so let them see periodically the consequences of cutting corners.
Why not use our emergency app to address complacency? EVA Emergency new so you’ll break the habit, and you can use it for medical emergency exercises, evacuation test etc. Check the features!