August 17 2020
By: Terry L. Mathis
Once again I have been preached to by frustrated managers espousing the thought that "if workers would just think before they act" or "if they would just pay attention to what they are doing" or "if they would just keep their minds on their jobs," we would not have accidents. Many academics give this a label; the most common one I hear is "mindfulness."
Mindfulness is multi-faceted: workers can not be totally mindful for 12 hours; workers will not be mindful unless they have a good grasp of the risks and the need for precautions; even if workers are mindful of the risks, their experience of past risk-taking without resulting injury make them feel safe to take the risk again; some safety issues are so simple they should be addressed through safe habits rather than mindfulness (i.e. wearing seatbelts).
Telling workers to be mindful is like telling them to be safe or be careful. It is too nebulous to direct meaningful action.
Terry Mathis, Founder and retired CEO of ProAct Safety, has served as a consultant and advisor for top organizations the world over. A respected strategist and thought leader, Terry has authored five books, numerous articles, videos and blogs, and is known for his dynamic and engaging presentations. EHS Today has named him one of the '50 People Who Most Influenced EHS' four consecutive times. Business leaders and safety professionals seek Terry's practical insight and unique ability to introduce new perspectives that lead to real change.