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My dictionary defines complacency this way, “self-satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of actual danger or deficiencies”.
I am not sure of the statistics, however, there is no doubt in my mind that numerous accidents have occurred due to allowing ourselves to become complacent in our everyday activity. (On and off the job)
I have often said that working safely is not easy, nor is it automatic. We have to work at it with the highest degree of awareness.
If we just stop for a moments and think we all can come up with instances that we did become complacent. It happens to us because we perform many functions on an almost continuous basis. Many of our jobs are repetitive in nature, and the more we repeat what we are doing, the better the chance that we are becoming complacent without even realizing it. Therein lies the potential danger, the danger of complacency.
We must remember, that life is what happens, when we are making other plans. We become complacent about our personal safety by repeated exposure to situations without consequence.
We take shortcuts and with the absence of consequents, cause us to become more lax about our personal safety, in other words we are becoming complacent.
Personal safety is not like a light switch that you can turn on or off. The personal safety switch must continuously be in the on position.
Just because we feel safe, does not mean we are safe. On the contrary, “feeling safe all the time”, could be the biggest threat to our well being, because we are drifting into that complacent mode.
One key to avoid the complacency trap is to form “safety habits”. Habits that you do over and over until they override your former unsafe behaviour and become automated.
Habits such as, wearing gloves, glasses, proper foot wear, safety harness on and ready to tie off, face shield when grinding, removing tripping hazards, attending safety meetings and paying attention, using seat belts, tying off a ladder etc etc.
Is it not better to form these types of automatic habits, and let them become the norm?
There is an old saying that familiarity breeds contempt. To paraphrase, I would say that, familiarity breeds complacency. Lets work in a manner that we ensure we do not fall into the complacency trap.
World events have forever changed the way we live and act in our daily lives. Many of the things we took for granted have been inexorably modified, and we are forced to adapt our once-comfortable routines to accommodate the changes. Travelers notice an increased presence of security personnel in airports, train stations, parking lots, and other public venues. Our streets are patrolled more often and by greater numbers of police and security personnel. There is an increase in neighborhood watch groups, and our lives are suddenly less private.
We are on edge and very concerned. We worry at every turn that some evil might lurk in a hidden corner where we least expect it. We plan our activities with greater detail and vary our daily regimen a bit to be a little less predictable. We want to be prepared. But who is the enemy? Whom should we watch out for? There are many fanatical factions in the world that could justifiably be labeled an enemy. However, of all the multifaceted dangers that do present themselves, complacency may well be our biggest adversary.
Complacency is a self-satisfied state of mind oblivious to any danger present. We regularly experience complacency in our personal lives and at our jobs. The key is being cognizant of its existence and the measures we can take to offset any negative consequences. The places we feel the most familiar with can be the most perilous because the menace is not so obvious to us. When we feel confident the environment is stable, we often forget things are subject to change and become precarious in an instant. We must learn to react and interact with our surroundings to ensure we are alert to the possibilities of catastrophe.
Complacency is an attitude that determines how we respond to given situations. How many times have we heard the statement, "We have always done it that way." Of course, it must be right if it has stood the test of time and repetitiveness. Not necessarily true! The very fact it is repeated often can draw us into the complacency trap--we learn to expect proven results until one day, the outcome changes for the worse.
Deliberately breaking rules, laws, and regulations is a transgression, and knowingly assisting in the commission of such a wrongful act is complicity.
Complacency is a known problem and must be clearly recognized as a causal factor in accidents. There is no cure for complacency, but we must be ever diligent in our prevention efforts. J.C. Ryle so aptly wrote, "Do not suppose that it needs some great scarlet sin to bring you to the pit of destruction. You have only to sit still and do nothing, and you will find yourself there at last."