Some jobs, activities or tasks involve a certain amount of risk. When we first start the job, we’re very aware of this risk, so we’re cautious of it. However, as time goes on, we get comfortable and forget about the dangers associated with the task. That’s often when mistakes and accidents happen.
Picture: hobvias sudoneighm/Flickr
This is called “normalisation”. It can cause workplace accidents; it can cause you to slip up on a project and make a simple mistake. Harvard Business Review explains:
In everything from small home-improvement tasks to public infrastructure megaprojects, injuries and deaths tend to happen late in the job, when confidence runs high and tolerance for delays dips especially low. This springs from a phenomenon known as normalization, which often allows people to accept looser standards in the name of greater speed. The more people do something without suffering a bad outcome, the harder it becomes for them to remain aware of the risks associated with that behaviour. The most obvious example of this in everyday life is texting while driving.
Writer Neil Swidey says he noticed this behaviour when researching a book on commercial divers. Going into the research, he assumed that most accidents would happen the first day on the job, when workers were getting used to their new environment. But he discovered it was actually the opposite. Fatal accidents occurred towards the end of the project, when managers made questionable decisions that put workers at risk. Their confidence overshadowed their better judgement about the dangers of the job.
The more we do something without running into any problems, the more we forget that those problems can happen. Of course, you don’t want to walk around constantly paranoid that something bad could happen. But you don’t want to forget to safeguard against any potential dangers or issues either.
For more detail, check out the full post.
Why Workplace Accidents Tend to Happen Late in a Project [Harvard Business Review]