We like to think that we would not intentionally put ourselves in danger but our subconscious mind has different ideas.
Before I start I want to say that there are set rules that apply to safety in all walks of life and safe operating procedures, training and discipline in the workplace are proven ways to create a safe environment.
The problem is that unless we address how our mind works, however safe we think things are accidents will continue because our behaviour causes most incidents.
No one intentionally sets out to injure themselves and a majority of accidents occur because we are not thinking.
Most safety measures are aimed at our conscious mind yet our subconscious mind controls our actions when we are on auto pilot behaviour.
I ask you to read this with an open mind because it is my true belief that by understanding that the conscious and subconscious mind do not always work in harmony that can be a major step forward in all aspects of safety.
Some of the most complex things become second nature, think of tying shoelaces when we were first confronted with the task it seemed impossible, yet now we do it without thinking and this is one of the states where problems can arise.
When we first learn to drive a car we are totally present because nothing is natural and it is only by paying 100% attention that we are going to pass our test, then once we pass the test we go into habitual mode and do not consciously think about driving as it is all going on in the subconscious. We can even arrive to a regular destination and not even remember the journey because when we are in that habitual mode we can think and do other things without apparently affecting our driving.
It is not until our mind is forced to concentrate that we totally come into the present, for example if we were placed into a formula one racing car our mind would be totally present because although basically the operation of the car is similar, the controls and power are totally different. We in effect have to move into a new arena and relearn an existing skill.
Most accidents involving human interaction can almost always after investigation be blamed on human error and it is by studying this connection between our conscious and sub conscious mind that gives a lot of clues as to how we can improve safety in the workplace.
Each of us have totally different risk levels and we always seem to push our risk level in accordance with new information and as we make the workplace safer the subconscious sets about using that new safety buffer to allow us to take bigger risks.
A classic example of this was an experiment for ABS (Antilock Braking System) ABS brakes were fitted to 50% of the taxis in a company and over 6 months the results were monitored.
What happened shocked everybody because the taxis fitted with ABS were involved in more accidents than those without. The drivers with ABS had subconsciously pushed their risk level up a notch because they felt safer. The conscious mind controlled by the subconscious thought that because braking was better it could tailgate or brake later resulting in the increase in accidents like rear end collisions.
So as you can see it is imperative that this connection between the conscious and subconscious mind is understood when changing or improving safety because it may actually result in more accidents if triggers are not in place to make sure that the mind is aware.
The resistance to change is often that the past investment has created a culture based on knowledge and beliefs to date and to suddenly decide that a vast amount of time and money has been invested to create a situation that is not functioning correctly takes courage on the part of the person who is making that decision to admit that there is a better way.
Once you are fully aware as to how we can use the conscious and subconscious mind to increase safety things will improve in all departments.
"The Mindset Technician"
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