How to Minimize Distractions and Prevent Workplace Hazards

Keeping your mind on the task at hand will make you safer and more productive

Interested in Safety?

Get Safety articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Safety + Get Alerts

There are many things that can distract us at work and in life in general. Family circumstances, financial struggles and medical issues have always been sources of distraction. Today, our cellphones are a near-constant source of distraction. If we allow these distractions to over take our thoughts, it can limit productivity, affect quality of work and lead to dangerous situations.

Sometimes work itself can be the distraction when your mind is on whatever you need to do next before you complete the current task. When it comes to your professional lives, these distractions can make your work dangerous and unsafe. If others are around you, it can put them at risk too. 

What does being present really mean? Being present means taking the necessary steps to eliminate those distractions and focusing on the current task at hand.

The following are some ideas to help you eliminate distractions so you can focus and get the job done safely.

  1. Prep your work area. Before you get started, make sure your work area is properly set up. Have the right tools on hand. Know which task each employee is assigned to complete and communicate the plan to complete the task so everyone knows what they need to accomplish.
  2. Deal with the hazards. Have a plan ahead of beginning work to handle any hazards that are present or any potential hazards that might occur. This way your mind is free to focus on your task. When hazards do present themselves, deal with them quickly. Don’t let them linger.
  3. Be intentional. Being intentional means that we make deliberate decisions that reflect what is important to us. Being intentional helps us maintain a positive focus and allows us to experience the clarity we need to push out the distractions.
  4. Monitor your thoughts. When you begin to notice your mind wandering, it’s time to get back into focus. It’s easy to allow life’s distractions to take over your focus without even realizing it. It happens to us all. This takes practice, but it can be done and it’s important to give yourself some grace, too.
  5. Organize your thoughts. Give yourself time to focus on the things that can be distracting so that you can focus on the task while you are completing it. You may need to talk to someone and get some sort of resolution before you begin your work task. Take a break if you need to and walk away from the task if the distractions become overwhelming.
  6. Be an active listener. When you’re getting instructions on operating equipment or tools or during safety meetings, make the effort to be engaged. You could miss something really important to your safety and the safety of others.
  7. Get proper rest. Fatigue and general tiredness can lead to being distracted so make sure you are being disciplined about getting rest at night. A rule of thumb is to go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning to get your body in a regular sleep pattern.

A major part of working safe is your ability to be mentally alert at all times but even more so when hazards or potential hazards are present. A great quote from former military officer Col. Jeff Cooper is “Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands.”

We have many tasks that present dangers. Your best defense starts with your mindset. Be present in the moment and work safely by staying focused on the task at hand. 

About the Author

Ronnie Freeman is safety director for Mount Pleasant Waterworks and Safety Committee chair for the Water Environmental Association of South Carolina.



Discussion

Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.