Bad habits put your workers at risk of injury on the job, but do they know what routines are affect their safety behaviors? Habits are personal: they are developed over time and become the structure of our routines. This makes them positive resources: they can leverage a worker’s natural inclination to be cautious on the job and ensure he prepares for his shift carefully every day. But there’s another side to the habit coin: the bad one. The moment a worker gives in to bad habits is when good safety behaviors are at risk. All safety professionals who have seen their employees operating forklifts just a little too vivaciously know what a lack of caution can do to team safety. So, how can you help your employees escape powerful bad habits to leverage safe ones?
Imagine you are in prison. Your application for parole is being reviewed today by a judge. What time of day do you want to have your application reviewed?
Think about your answer and hold onto it. We’ll revisit the question later…
Self-control. It's critical to safety behavior and important decision-making. When thinking of self-control, let’s focus closely on people’s ability to control emotions and desires in challenging situations. It’s a tricky effort.
This blog is about smartphones, but it isn't about the dangers of texting and driving. You already know all that stuff. I’m interested in other, less obvious hazards of smartphone use. Just look around an airport, lobby, restaurant or other public place. Note the number of heads buried into their hand-held device. Smartphones reshape the way we live our lives and interact with our fellow humans. Social interaction and communication are the most obvious. There are less obvious ways in which the smartphone is affecting lives.
If I could brainwash employees into acting safer, how would I do it? Documented brainwashing techniques include isolating persons, repetitive messaging under stress, controlling information from outside sources, and creating doubts in their beliefs. That’s what cults do. It doesn’t sound pleasant or practical. There is probably a company rule against this sort of stuff. HR won’t like the mess. So, what can we do to improve our employees' commitment to safer behavior that doesn’t involve psychological torture?
Which of these two employee safety signs do you find more persuasive? I’ll tell you how I feel when I look at them. I mostly follow rules, so I like to think I wouldn’t touch the sign on the left. As for the sign on the right… Not only would I not touch it, I would feel very uncomfortable being in the same room as that sign. Get me away from it! These two signs could hang on the same type of machine. Both signs want me to comply. However, for me, one of them is more persuasive. The one on the right gives me an almost physical reaction. Why is that?
You see so much of it you forget it’s there. The signage with safety phrases, clichés, and platitudes. If you work at an industrial job-site then you’ve probably seen all the variations. The challenge to personal commitment…
Stand up for safety
Safety starts with me
Safety: first, last, & always
In previous blogs, we've discussed how our intuitive system impacts our decision making. Cognitive biases such as the overconfidence effect, ostrich effect, availability heuristic, social proof, and many other heuristics impact decision making and our personal safety. Several blog readers have asked us how to avoid the potential safety negative outcomes of these mental “rules of thumb.”
“Don’t worry I got this” is a dangerous phrase. The overconfidence effect is a cognitive bias that frequently leads to recordable incidents and a lot of near misses. The overconfidence effect has been studied extensively within the context of decision making and risk taking.
A well-known study asked drivers to compare the safety of their driving to the other drivers participating in the study. 88% indicated that they were safer than the average driver. 60% said that they think they are one of the top 20% in terms of driving safely. Clearly there is a disconnect between perceived ability and reality. This is the overconfidence effect and it can be deadly.
Prior to 1967 Swedes drove on the left-hand side of the road. Högertrafikomläggningen is the day that Sweden switched all traffic to the right-hand side of the road. Picture that scenario. Imagine driving in the opposite direction on familiar streets, looking over a different shoulder while changing lanes, or reflexively reaching for the shifter with the wrong hand. You'd be trying to overcome years of muscle memory and habits.
Now imagine all of your fellow motorists suddenly experiencing this together on the road. Scary? You might think it was a rough time for Swedish car insurance representatives.
You’d be wrong.