Lethal Distraction

We seem to be writing a good bit about distraction lately.  As a career safety professional, I spend much of my time investigating the root cause of accidents because it is only by discovering the root cause that we can prevent a future accident.  It is what I call my Best Practice.  It is similar to looking for the root cause of disease rather than the treatment of disease.  Isn’t it a better practice to prevent accidents and disease rather than mitigate and treat?

Distraction has become the root cause of the majority of workplace accidents and incidents.  Distraction causes automobile accidents, slips, trips and falls, spills, cuts, chemical injuries, and all forms of unsafe work practice.  The worst workplace accident in the history of our country – The DeepWater Horizon Oil Spill – has a root cause of distraction.

There has been a cultural shift toward pre-occupation with technology (pings and dings), relationship issues (think social media) and economic problems (it’s the economy stupid – Bill Clinton’s I believe).  In addition, many employees have medical problems and take medications that impair their concentration and lead to mindless behaviors.  Understanding this growing trend of distraction is the first step toward creating an environment that is distraction free and that focuses on the safe completion of work tasks.

As we look toward the beginning of 2013 won’t you join me in becoming more mindful of your decisions and behaviors, especially as they are related to safe work practices?

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