Make Safety – Not Complacency – Your State of Mind

January 24, 2021

On occasion, I suspect all of us wake up feeling as if we’re Sleepy, one of the Seven Dwarfs. “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go …”

Symbol for reducing a risk. Cubes form the word “RISK” while a hand turns a cube and changes the word “high” to low” (or vice versa).

As you hop in the car, keep in mind driving is not a fairy tale, though. Safety needs to lead the way. The task of driving is not one to take for granted. If we have a driver’s license, it means we know how to drive. It’s easy, right? Well, how come complacency sets in from time to time then?

In the dictionary, complacency is defined as “self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies.” I looked it up and was reminded, “What a great definition!”

Let’s think about that. Without awareness? When is the last time you drove home in auto-pilot mode? Do you remember the route you took? Seeing the landmarks you pass daily? No? These can be signs of complacency setting in as you deal with the monotony of a commute that plays out like a day filled with the same old same old.

How can safety leaders combat complacency in the workplace? What helps your employees and/or drivers keep defensive driving on board so they avoid complacency?

Here are a few critical practices to consider:

Safety never sleeps. Keep the message of safe driving in front of your employees. We have to be continually training, educating, talking with and reminding employees about defensive driving and safe driving techniques such as driving to conditions. We have to share the “why” behind safety.

When behind the wheel, there are no “do-overs” and so we need to find safety motivation to avoid slip-ups. Me? My family motivates me. My husband and my kids share the roads every day with others. If I can influence them or reach just one other person, then that’s a success.

I hope you will review your transportation and driver safety programs after reading this – or establish a new program if there isn’t one in place. If you do that, I have succeeded. I take joy out of every success, small or large. Saving lives matters. So, what gives you joy?

– Lisa Robinson is a senior program manager with the National Safety Council

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