How can complacency harm our safety?


EHS safety expert and Head of Marketing for SafeStart International, Lucas Martinucci offers tips on how to not let complacency badly affect our daily lives on and off the workplace.

Before we start, it is important for you to understand what complacency is. So what is complacency? Complacency gives you a false sense of security/safety or confidence. It makes you let your guard down even around potential danger. We all become complacent with the hazards we have to deal with on a day to day basis. Once you get used to the way things are, it’s hard to treat the hazards with the same fear, apprehension and respect you did initially. Once things seem normal to you it’s easy enough for anybody’s mind to wander.

To give you an example, we all have picked up our cell phone while driving or texted while crossing a street despite knowing that it could potentially be dangerous. Even though we have come across fatalities and accidents that have happened to people while they were texting or calling, we have done it again and again. Why? Because “nothing has ever happened before” to us or to anyone that is close to us. This is complacency.

“More than 90% of accidents that happen, whether at work, at home or on the road, can be avoided. Complacency, or as we usually explain as overconfidence, is one of the main causes of accidents, but still, it is a state very difficult to recognize because we think we are safe doing something that we are used to do on a daily basis”, explains Lucas Martinucci, Safety specialist and Head of Marketing at SafeStart International.

“Safety is ‘at risk’ when we reduce our perception of danger, when we deviate our behaviour, take short-cuts or do not follow the rules because ‘it never went wrong’ or ‘I’ve always done it that way’. Also, when we believe that we don’t need to improve, because we are already good enough at what we do, we let our guard down making us more susceptible to silly mistakes”, adds Martinucci.

Lucas offers some tips on how to avoid being complacent:

Turn off the autopilot mode! When you feel that complacency is slowly creeping in, improve your habits, keep your eyes on task and look at others for the patterns that increase the risk of injury. This will help you to not repeat the same behaviours and errors;

Rate your State! It is very important to be aware that we do not know everything and we are not superheroes. Do a self-analysis: How am I feeling today? What errors do I really make everyday? What errors are real risks to my life and what can I do to avoid them?;

Anticipate your next moves to avoid possible errors! This should become a habit in everyone’s life – stay alert when you go on with your day, in traffic, at work, in public places. Excessive zeal is never harmful;

And finally, ask for help! “When I saw that I was picking up my cell phone a lot while driving, I asked my wife and kids to warn me or even yell at me. Everything is easier with a bit of help. Do the same with your family, co-workers, friends,” says Lucas.

About SafeStart

SafeStart is a leader in advanced safety awareness training with presence in more than 60 countries, having trained more than 4 million people in over 3,500 companies. The training is available in more than 30 languages and has been implemented in more than 60 countries. The focus of the training is to develop specific skills to reduce errors, injuries and incidents that happen daily and involve human factors. Among the companies that implemented the programme are: Komatsu, Mosaic, Saint Gobain, DSM, Epiroc, Etex, Heineken, Michelin, Outokumpu.

For more information