No matter how robust a safety management system is, human behaviour can bypass almost any safety procedure. Habits make up 40 per cent of human behaviour, where most people think of a habit as brushing one’s teeth or applying a seat belt when driving a car.
A seat belt is a safety feature of a car and it is amazing how over the years the use of a seat belt has become second nature. If only other aspects of safety could become second nature such as keeping a cleaning room tidy or not yanking electrical cords around furniture.
Routine drives many daily actions conserving mental effort for issues that require more detailed consideration. The issue with routine, however, is that it causes cleaners to work on autopilot when they should be more aware of their surroundings and paying more attention.
When something occurs out of the ordinary then a cleaner on autopilot may become involved in an incident. In many incident investigations over the years I have had the injured party admit with a smile that the incident was their fault, they were complacent and in autopilot mode.
An example of this may include a cleaner tripping on the same set of stairs he/she has walked up and down for 10 years. Another example is a cleaner tripping on the ground level tines of a forklift parked in the same place it has been parked day after day.
I remember a cleaner who walked up to a clearly marked zip hot water boiler and proceeded to wash her hands – she certainly paid the price for her complacency. My research demonstrates that 65.5 per cent of incidents in the cleaning industry have a human error base and 51.5 per cent of those resulted from moving without looking.
This article first appeared in the May/June issue of INCLEAN magazine. To continue reading click here.