Have you ever driven to a destination and upon arrival could not recall the trip including the route you took, or the cars and exits that you passed along the way? Or, have you ever entered a room to retrieve something but once in the room you could not remember why you are there much less what you were there to retrieve?
Maybe you were thinking of a recent occurrence (such as the argument that you had with your spouse earlier that morning) or something that you have yet to do (such as the paying that large credit card bill- the future)?
Whatever the reason, the above scenarios are what I refer to as “mindless living” and are rather scary (particularly the motor vehicle scenario). The motor vehicle example while not exactly what we would think of when we use the term “distracted driving” is actually a form of distracted driving even though you are not partaking in tasks that are ordinarily associated with distracted driving (texting while driving, etc.).
Mindless living is essentially performing daily tasks in a trance, or operating in auto pilot if you will.
The fact is, these lapses in mindfulness, some momentary, others for longer periods of time, can occur rather frequently throughout our daily lives and activities. I believe that these moment to moment lapses are a contributing factor to errors and sometimes injuries, both on and off the job. Most of us are not even aware of these lapses muich less the consequences.
After a recent safety talk at a construction site, I had a foreman approach me and say, “Today I let Tom leave work early as his head is not in the right place and I did not want him getting hurt. His grandfather is expected to pass away and he is expecting a phone call at work to inform him”.
While we never know what could have occurred on that construction site, the foreman took a proactive step to reduce the possibility of an injury as he was aware that his co-workers mindset was affected by this off the job situation.
So what can we do about these mindless trances that we all suffer from periodically?
In comes the concept of Home Meets Work ®. This is a concept centered on the idea that there is a connection between the home (or off the job issues) and the workplace. Traditionally there has been a separation between home and work issues based on the ideas that home issues are personal in nature and have no place in the workplace.
We all know that that is not really so. If you have a bad day at work, it is often taken home with you and vice versa. Issues and challenges move freely from home to work and work to home.
Employers and employees both have a vested interest (personal and family safety, improving quality/ productivity and reducing costs) in finding ways to address these issues.
Below are two topic areas that I have used successfully within the workplace to promote the concept of mindfulness and accident prevention on and off the job. Both items can be incorporated into your current workplace safety and health educational process.
1. Mindfulness education
If you agree that these trances exist in our lives and are a potential contributor to errors and incidents (not to mention there may also be a link to poor quality and lower productivity) then it is probably advantageous to educate the employees on techniques and strategies they can use to become more mindful and aware. By giving your employees tips and skills on how to improve their state of awareness both on and off the job, their quality of life as well as their quality of work is sure to improve!
2. Home Meets Work ® Education
More Americans die of unintentional injury death in the home than in the workplace (21.1 million injuries in the home as compared to 5.1 million injuries at work). (NSC Injury Facts, 2011).
Incorporating non-traditional safety education (home/off the job safety) into your traditional workplace safety process, is not just a good thing to do but it builds employee awareness and involvement. It also shows employees that the organization really cares about their health and safety and serves a very good financial purpose for the employer. After all an injured worker (whether injured at home or work) cannot do his or her job in a productive manner, if at all!
This article was written by Milton Jacobs, Certified Safety Professional and President of Safety Solution Consultants, Inc.
For speaking engagements and workshops on mindful safety, please contact Milton at email@example.com or 1-888-240-7724.