What is desensitization (complacency)?
Desensitization can be defined as self-satisfaction, and a sense of security in one’s own abilities, especially when accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies. When people think about desensitization, they think of repetitive/routine work and/or doing the same tasks over several weeks/ months/years that result in working in an autopilot mode. When in auto pilot mode, we get used to things being done the same way and don’t always look at the hazards. We may also underestimate the risks associated or fail to notice a change in our environment when we become complacent in our daily routines. This puts workers in a dangerous position with a high potential for an accident or injury.
There is another layer to desensitization that has the same dangerous effects as working in auto pilot mode. That layer is focusing on personal issues while performing work duties. Nearly everyone experiences life events and issues that distract them from work. A personal issue is anything from your life outside work that might make it more difficult for you to focus and perform well at work. Employees under stress are prone to mistakes, reduced productivity, and substantially increases the potential for an accident or injury. Even while dealing with personal issues, we still must follow safety procedures and meet our job duties.
How do we overcome this type of desensitization?
It is broken down into three elements. The first answer is within you. It boils down to communication and managing those personal issues to stay focused when at work. It’s also vital to communicate your issues with someone in your organization which would include your lead, supervisor, or human resource point of contact.
When sharing those personal issues with someone you feel comfortable and trust, they can exercise several different measures which include getting you help from your Employee Assistance Program, adjusting your work tasks while you manage your personal issue, or giving you some time off to deal with those issues (provided you have time accrued).
The second element is for the leaders to develop and maintain a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their personal issues with someone in their organization. When