Distractions in the Work Place

Distractions can and will cause an increase in work place safety issues, poor quality, and production inefficiencies.  There are a lot of external and internal variables that can drive distractions, for example; planning travel, company activities, stress of home life, increased or decreased production schedules, complacency, vacations, overtime, fatigue, child care needs, and many others.  No matter what the cause, distractions have the same effect.  When we are distracted we fail to pay attention and do not see the hazards which lead to injuries, quality concerns, and missed production schedules.

More than half of all workers have smart phones

The risks of distracted driving by cell phone use has been highly communicated in recent years.  However, the distractions caused by cell phones are not only related to driving but are also found in the workplace.  According to Pew Research Center, 61% of Americans have smartphones and 91% have some sort of cell phone.  Wireless records show that America is sending approximately 3 billion texts per day, most of these are sent during working hours.  It is also estimated most adults will spend up to 5.9 hours a day on their phones.

Complacency as a distraction

This is a mindset that can lead to distractions or inattention.  As people become more familiar with tasks and the work environment becomes very easy to miss additional risks either through complacency or over confidence.  If a new hazard or risk is introduced into the workplace it can often be overlooked.

How to eliminate distractions in the workplace

You may never fully eliminate all distractions in your workplace but you can minimize the amount and lessen the severity of associated risks.  The best way to reduce distractions is to routinely look for them.  By conducting more job site inspections and looking specifically for distractions and complacency, you will be able to identify and eliminate them.

Discussing potential distractions and how to address them at start of shift meetings, is a great way to identify unknown distractions and possibly eliminate them before they become a serious issue.

If your company does not already have a cell phone policy it is recommended that you develop one.  By reducing or eliminating the use of cell phones while at work, your employees can focus on the task at hand and in doing so will work safer with fewer quality errors.

My HR Professionals offer various trainings and inspections, to help identify and correct potentials for unsafe work environments. These trainings and inspections are included within our Safety and Risk Management Service that also provides numerous other offerings to our clients.