In our last newsletter safety article, we wrote about making safety a habit. This week, we will address how to make that happen in the workplace.
When an action has become a habit, a break from the usual routine will feel off, if not outright wrong. When habits are entrenched, we immediately notice any lapse, such as when our car is moving but we don’t feel the seatbelt pressing against our lap. Its absence serves as a reminder to buckle up. Safe habit development in the workplace can follow a similar progression.
Consistency is vital for habit formation. Even momentary lapses in routine can erode the process in the early stages of developing a habit. If a worker ventures onto the production floor to run an errand without the proper PPE for the area, thinking, “just this once, and I’ll be quick,” then skipping appropriate PPE becomes an option in their thought process. To build firmly-entrenched habits, we must enforce adherence without exception no matter what role we play in the company—especially in the early days of onboarding new employees.
How we reinforce the habits matters, too. Building a habit requires constant reminders in the early stages. A positive, proactive approach will be more effective than a reactive, negative attitude. If management cracks down on lapses after the fact, it’s already too late. Consistency—not correction—turns the action into a habit.1
Routine safety habits will yield greater situational awareness throughout the workday.
Rick Means, Director of Safety and Education, is available to help members with safety. Contact Rick at 360-943-9198, Ext. 118 or [email protected].
1. Page-Bottorff, T. (2016). The Habit of Safety: Forming, Changing and Reinforcing Key Safety Behaviors. Professional Safety, (February 2016), 42-43.