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Photo of many working on electrical panel to illustrate why complacency is dangerous in the workplace.

If you’ve been on the job for a while, complacency may set in and you may be tempted to cut corners. Safety procedures are often tedious, and once you’re familiar with the machinery and the tools you use, you may see ways to do things more quickly and easily.

It is true that newer and younger workers are statistically more likely to get hurt on the job. But the truth is that every safety procedure is there for a reason. The reality is that complacency leads to risk-taking, and risk-taking leads to injuries. 

Why Experienced Workers Take Risks 

If you’ve been doing the same work for 5, 20, or 30 years and never had an accident, you likely believe you’re at the top of your game. You know the job inside and out, and you may even feel invincible. You’re also less likely to pay close attention to each part of every task.

New workers are trying to remember everything, while those with experience may find themselves zoning out. All of this leads to a lower perceived risk, which makes it more likely that you’ll cut corners since you don’t feel that you’re at risk for injury. 

Why Complacency Is Dangerous 

As soon as you introduce a lower perceived risk to any task, you also increase the possibility of human error. And human error is involved in roughly 90% of workplace accidents. Human error may be as simple as a moment of distraction or as complex as a deliberate safety violation based on the belief that you can do things better than the established procedure. Regardless of the type of error, though, the reality is that once you stop paying attention to safety, you increase your risks of being injured. 

Modeling Good Safety Behavior 

Even if you still believe you’re invincible, workplaces rely on teams. There are new employees watching you, as they attempt to understand how everything works. The more safety risks you take, the more they are likely to follow your lead. If you don’t believe in following safety procedures for yourself, consider how you would feel if someone else got hurt by doing what you showed them. 

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