Distractions cause accidents

Distractions cause accidents

Watching out for the safety of others pays personal dividends – from knowing there will be others looking out for you as well, to ensuring you never live with the regret of not stepping in before an accident occurred, writes NICOLA JENVEY

An internationally acclaimed speaker and author, registered hypnotist and accomplished magician, John Drebinger, president of John Drebinger Presentations, told Noshcon 2016 delegates there were five solid reasons for taking the safety of those around you to heart.

The first two were: in watching out for others, you see the hazards they may miss, while also knowing those around you are correspondingly watching your back. Science has shown that people cannot consciously concentrate on more than one thing simultaneously and distractions cause accidents.

“The objective of workplace safety is ensuring everyone gets home safely, but the irony is that when you have a family, you are distracted, especially when someone is ill, and that is when you miss seeing the hazard,” he said.

Science has also shown that brains are subject to cognitive failure – the effect where the message does not translate between the retina and brain and a person, literally, does not see what is right before them. To numerous giggles and nods, Debinger cited the common problem of searching for the car keys lying in full view on the dining room table.

Consequently, another pair of eyes will see the hazard the colleague cannot see.

The last two reasons Debinger cited were: the knowledge you will never have to live with regret and that speaking out on safety issues is “the right thing to do” – as these are the most vital principles for health and safety professionals.

“We hold the value of safety as important and watching out for others is simply the right thing to do. It means you will never relive the nightmare of what happened when you walked away, because you were too insecure to speak out,” he said.

However, he acknowledged that people too often did not know how to handle safety awareness and preventative situations. Underpinning that situation was the thinking that “it will never happen” and the human psychology that typically avoids situations that make them uncomfortable.

“How many times have you seen a homeless person and wanted to do something, but walked away because you don’t know what to do without sounding, or being, patronising?” Debinger challenged.

He said that the flipside was defining techniques that allowed people to express their views about watching out for the safety of others. The first of these was asking the rhetorical question: “Do you want me to watch out for your safety?” as it is designed as a question with a “Yes” answer, or: “Hey, John, as you know, you need help lifting that (heavy object) as it’s too heavy”.

Posed in that fashion, the person can let someone know about a hazard without causing offence.

However, Debinger advised that, when someone cared about you sufficiently to warn you about a hazard, one should acknowledge their care; essentially by not dismissing them for paying attention, so that they will do so again.

“Make them feel as good as possible, not for you, but for the next person they will be prepared to warn. Belittling them in any manner discourages further action and may not save the next person’s life,” he concluded.

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