Category: Safety

The Human Side of Neuroscience and Safety

 

Early in my career, I worked with heavy machinery and dangerous chemicals. I was well-trained to maintain a keen safety awareness on the job site. Yet, on the day I was involved in a car accident as a passenger in a friend’s vehicle, I decided not to wear a seat belt. In seconds, I went from an athlete and martial artist with a bright future ahead of me in sports to a quadriplegic.

During recovery, I had no choice but to re-evaluate the decision to disregard my safety. Why had I not been more careful? When I later began my professional career as a motivational safety speaker, I was determined to help others make safety a top priority on the job.  My research about why we make poor decisions despite knowing better led me to study neuroscience and how it applies to safety accidents.

It is Human to Be Emotional, That Can Be Bad

Nada Wetzel is a recognized neuroscience expert based in Australia. She has devoted years to studying workplace safety and pointed out that most of our safety decisions are based on emotion. That’s not always logical.

“Good safety is a function of people making conscious safety choices…Safety leaders need to recognize and value the role of emotions and their role in creating an enabling or disabling environment…”

Minutes before I was in the accident, common sense told me to take a second and put on my seat belt, but my emotions convinced me that as we were driving less than a mile, I would be safe. I was not thinking logically, but emotionally. Wetzel wrote that “The majority of our thinking is in fact unconscious. Neuroscience helps us to better understand decision making…”

When I was working around heavy machinery and chemicals, I saw co-workers take great risks. They did not see hazards, just getting the job done quickly so they could punch out. This contradicted their training and common sense.

Can neuroscience override emotions to make good safety choices? It seems so. Neuroscience News, January 2016, reported on a study that concluded:

Learning and memory are among the brain’s most fundamental tools for survival… (survival is) the brain’s ability to discriminate between an environment that it has previously learned to be dangerous and one that is safe.”

Neuroscience has shown we can take what we learned in training or in one job situation and apply it to another situation if we are determined to do so every single day.

Safety is Essential, Neuroscience Proves It

Dr. Stephen Porges is a psychiatrist at the University of North Carolina and a neuroscience expert. He believes that “Safety is critical in enabling humans to optimize their potential.” He talks of the need to promote opportunities to feel safe and to use that tool to make us happier and more productive.

By making a conscious effort to exercise personal authority over unsafe behaviors, we can adopt a safety mindset. Even if our co-workers and friends say, “Sheesh, not another reminder about safety!” at the end of the day, when we feel safer we can better live up to our potential.

However, the most important finding in regard to the lessons of neuroscience and workplace safety to date might be the way we see danger.

Safety + Health magazine reported that “we are learning that we do not see with our eyes, but with our brains. This means that our eyes are not serving as active video cameras, capturing every detail of the world around us…The brain’s primary mission here, unless intentionally directed otherwise, is to determine if there are any unanticipated risks to our surviving and thriving…”

The vision to be safe is not based on sight, but our internal awareness and determination to be safe. We cannot trust what is imprinted on our eyes. Safety is something we must take into every fiber of our unconscious thinking. It is a reinforced mindset.

Is your work place determined to take on the challenge of a safer vision?

 

Contact Scott Burrows, Keynote and Breakout Speaker on Safety through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169

 

 

Scott Burrows: Motivational Workplace Safety Speaker

 

Most of us say that we believe in safety. We try to remember to wear our seat belts, take care when climbing ladders, or prompt our kids to pick up the toys they left on the floor!

In companies, we put up safety posters, provide training, and maintain the VISION to commit ourselves to safety by following safety protocols to keep accidents from occurring on the job.

While our MINDSET may be safety first, we experience accidents on the factory floor, warehouse, on the roads and when we make deliveries. Why does this happen? It comes down to a lack of GRIT, the focus to make safety the highest priority, each day, every day.

Scott Burrows: Keynote Speaker on Workplace Safety

I always worked hard. In my late teens, as a golf course supervisor, I drove trucks, tractors and worked around hazardous chemicals. I thought I had a safety mindset. One night, while the passenger in a friend’s car, I made a poor decision to not wear a seat belt. That night my friend lost control of the car and we hit a sand pile. The car overturned end over end, several times, and I was badly injured.

Prior to the accident I was a Division-I football player and a martial artist. After the accident, the doctors said I would be a quadriplegic. As I recovered, I developed the philosophy of VISION-MINDSET-GRIT. Vision and mindset are important, but without grit, we can never reach our safety goals.

Workplace Safety and GRIT

Workplace safety is a full-time job. We need the daily determination to see the job through. We must be interconnected by safety awareness no matter how familiar we are with the equipment and established protocols.

If GRIT weakens, it leads to indifference. When “just good enough” is enough, it guarantees an accident is waiting to happen. It takes everyone’s focus to have a safe work environment.

In 2019, American companies will pay out more than $65 billion in employee injury insurance claims. Many of those workplaces will lack the GRIT to instill a safety MINDSET and VISION. This year, let me help your company to have the GRIT to make your workplace a safe workplace.

 Want your workplace to have the VISION, MINDSET and GRIT to embrace safety? Contact Scott Burrows, Keynote Motivational Speaker on Workplace Safety today through this website or call us at: (520) 548-1169