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Many workplaces invest heavily in safe work practices, but the risk of injury can still be high due to a less recognized factor: complacency. Even well-trained workers can become comfortable with job risks and get distracted from the task at hand.

Studies show that a brief distraction or loss of focus – just three seconds – doubles the likelihood that workers will commit an error. Even slightly longer distractions – four to five seconds – triple the chances of an error. For highly hazardous tasks, errors can be costly.



1. Deliberate: The easiest to spot, such as intentionally taking a shortcut through a known restricted area.
2. Unintentional: For example, inadvertently walking into a restricted area while preoccupied or distracted.
3. Habitual: Boredom or a belief that a task is no longer dangerous after it has been done safely many times.



• Are workers stopping in the middle of tasks to check a cellphone? Do they interrupt one another while performing high-risk activities?
• Look for increases in injuries that indicate inattention or distraction – minor cuts, scrapes, burns and bumps.
• Notice increases in non-injury indicators of complacency, such as problems with product quality or lack of attention to work-area cleanliness.
• Watch for at-risk behaviors, such as taking shortcuts through restricted areas, keeping food in areas with hazardous chemicals, or failing to tightly close lids on containers of flammable liquids.



• Join your workplace safety committee. Offer ideas to develop safe work practices, productivity or workflows.
• Take any opportunity to cross-train or learn new skills, which will make you a more valuable employee and help to keep you engaged.
• Mentor new workers.
• Help conduct hazard assessments and develop solutions to identified hazards or problems.


Complacency is a hazard that can compromise an otherwise safe workplace. If you or others have relaxed your guard, ask what you can do to bring focus back to the task at hand.



Any information and recommendations contained in this communication have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. However, Lon Brown Insurance, Fearrin Insurance, Key Henson Jackson Insurance and Auto-Owners Insurance Group accepts no legal responsibility for the accuracy, sufficiency, or completeness of such information. Additional safety and health procedures may be required to comply with local, state, or federal law. Content in this document is not legal advice, nor does it amend the terms, conditions, or coverages of any insurance policy issued by herein above listed insurance agencies and/or companies.  Materials provided by Auto-Owners Insurance Group and used with permission as an educational tool.

Posted 5:36 PM

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