Looking the wrong way

Published on March 25, 2014 by

Having recently spoken at the Governor's Safety and Health Conference, I was reminded of some thoughts I had upon return from a trip a few years back.  They seem just as relevant today as then:

Thinking of safety, I have just returned from a trip to London.  It was astounding how potentially dangerous it is when our “programmed behaviors” are no longer appropriate for the environment.  I did not drive, but just walking was a bit harrowing as I continually needed to remind myself to look in the “wrong” direction when stepping off curbs or crossing streets.  Just walking past others in the stores or sidewalks often resulted in a dance as we both jigged to the same side.  Even all of the room light switches worked in the opposite way that was intuitive for me.

I bet that we are not even aware of the many behaviors we do on autopilot.  Much of behavioral safely is creating good habits.  Once they are in place, they tend to “just happen”, which can be good.   However, even good behaviors that we have learned to be safe, like always looking into the direction of traffic when entering a roadway can betray us when the environment changes.  Safety is not only about building good habits, but also creating a process to constantly learn/unlearn behaviors as the environment changes.

Interesting to ponder, as our work and office technology continue to evolve.

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