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KU-EHS January Safety Tip: Distractions in the Workplace

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

When we’re distracted, the likelihood of being involved in an accident increases dramatically. This applies both on and off the job. Today we’re going to talk about the dangers of distraction as it relates to the workplace.

1. What are some causes of employee distraction in the workplace and what can we do about them?

  • The problem: noise
  • The solution: wear hearing protection
  • The problem: Disruptive co-workers
  • The solution: Ask them to quiet down or report the situation to a manager or supervisor
  • The problem: stress, which makes it hard to focus
  • The solution: calm down by doing some breathing exercises or taking a walk during break time
  • The problem: talking on your cell phone or texting
  • The solution: limit cell phone use to break times
  • The problem: listening to music with headphones or ear buds
  • The solution: Save this activity for your off-the-job enjoyment

2. True or False? The ability to multitask is a highly valued job skill.

The answer is false.
According to the National Safety Council, there really is no such thing as multitasking.

  • Our brains can only focus on one task at a time
  • What appears to be multitasking is our brain quickly shifting from one task to another
  • Rapidly switching our focus in this way reduces our ability to concentrate on any one activity — potentially leading to mistakes and accidents

3. True or False? Listening to music can be a safety hazard.

The answer is true.

  • When your mind is distracted by music, you can’t focus on the job at hand
  • You might not hear an alarm or a co-worker trying to warn you of a hazard
  • Your level of awareness is impeded, meaning you might not notice the forklift in your direct path of travel

4. True or False? Addiction to the Internet is a real disorder.

The answer is true.

  • Researchers are finding that a growing number of people feel compelled to “be connected”
  • For example, some people must constantly check their email, send text messages or visit social media sites such as Facebook
  • This group displays behavior that is similar to other addicts, including emotional shutdown, lack of concentration and withdrawal

A Final Note

While some distractions are inevitable, the use of personal technology, such as cell phones, should be limited to break times. Safety requires our full attention each and every day.

Report A Safety Concern

Report a concern to KU-EHS

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