We often fall into the trap of taking routine tasks for granted and performing them on autopilot rather than with fully engaged minds. This tendency can lead to a lack of situational awareness and the potential for mistakes resulting in catastrophic consequences.
A typical example could be driving on a familiar route and arriving at the destination without fully remembering the journey. Another situation could be using a tool at work without mentally walking through each safety step before starting the task. Do we let our minds drift off thinking about something else? Situational awareness is crucial to prevent such lapses, and employers can help employees maintain it.
One way to improve situational awareness is to challenge the brain to engage with the task actively. By consciously observing the environment, potential hazards, and the behavior of others, we can maintain situational awareness. However, the brain tends to validate what we want to see, so it is essential to question assumptions and look for signs that contradict them.
External and internal sources of stress can also impact situational awareness. Employers can help by establishing open lines of communication and creating a supportive workplace culture. Checking in with employees regularly, being aware of their circumstances outside of work, and offering assistance resources can also help.
Maintaining situational awareness is critical to preventing mistakes that can have lasting consequences. We can keep focus and attention on the task at hand by actively engaging the brain, questioning assumptions, and managing distracting stressors. Employers can also play a crucial role in promoting a supportive workplace culture that encourages communication and offers resources to control stressors.
Our safety team is available to help members elevate their safety practices from simply meeting requirements to implementing quality safety measures. Contact us at [email protected] to learn more.