According to the dictionary, a habit is an acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary. For example, we don’t usually decide whether to brush our teeth before bed each night—it’s an action we repeat from as far back as we can remember. It’s a decision you never even think about—a choice you’ve already made.1
When workplace safety is a habit, workers repeat the same protection pattern with basic everyday precautions, like wearing PPE. It becomes automatic.
Think of habits as mental shortcuts. They allow people to navigate the constant flow of everyday life and the small individual choices that are part of it. We conserve our mental energy for important decisions.
Repetition is the key to building a strong habit. Research shows that a new habit takes at least 21 days to take hold, but the average worker requires ten weeks of conscious repetition before the action becomes automatic. The most forgetful members of a team will take almost twice as long.2 This is why promoting good safety habits in the workplace is critical.
Researchers have found that habits account for as much as 40% of human behavior.2 Habits guide our most routine, unthinking behaviors and good habits will guide them in good directions.
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].
- Hill, R. H. (2018). Make safety a habit! Journal of Chemical Health and Safety,25(2).
- Page-Bottorff, T. (2016). The Habit of Safety: Forming, Changing and Reinforcing Key Safety Behaviors. Professional Safety, (February 2016), 42-43.