August 05 2018
By: Terry L. Mathis
I just completed another assessment in which we analyzed an organization's accident reports for the past four years. The causal factors on these reports were full of the phrase "not paying attention." It seemed to be the magic way of explaining how a worker could fall victim to their surroundings. Some of the situations DID make one wonder how a worker missed the risks, but others were much less obvious and a few were actually bizarre.
Brain science is telling us that a person's ability to be fully aware of situational issues and to make highly conscious decisions on every detail of our tasks is quite limited. We MUST depend on our subconscious brain to guide us through common and repetitive tasks or we simply overload our capacity to process information. This means we need to train our subconscious to make good basic decisions and not simply let our common practice find its own ways. This means keeping our eyes on our path, using good body mechanics, staying out of the line of fire and pinch points, and other basics need to become automatic, not dependent on situational awareness (which is what gets called "attention" most often).
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.