Five Hazardous Attitudes in the Workplace

“The Five Hazardous Attitudes” are the source of most on-the-job incidents during elevated construction. These attitudes, Anti-Authority, Impulsivity, Invulnerability, Macho, & Resignation, often lead to poor judgment and risk assessment. Rigorously evaluating the situation, including its risks, is vital to ensuring a safe work environment. These attitudes often pop up in everyday life, aviation, the military, and construction. Everyone from ventilation contractors to office workers is responsible for having the right attitude to ensure workplace safety.

Learn the Five Hazardous Attitudes and be ready for them.

  1. Anti-Authority

Ladder Safety Photo
5 Hazardous Attitudes

People who think “no one can tell me what not to do”, share the anti-authority attitude. They may be resentful of having someone trying to tell them what to do and may regard rules, regulations, and procedures as unnecessary or silly. While it is one’s prerogative to question authority and look for errors, doing so constantly, and without looking for other solutions, can lead to trouble.

When a construction worker has an anti-authority attitude, it can lead to problems or even injuries. They believe that tie-off regulations are “excessive”, caution signs “arbitrary”, and personal protection equipment “gets in the way”. Very real hazards are ignored for the sake of convenience or expediency. They feel justified by their anti-authority attitude by telling themselves that the rules don’t apply in this given circumstance, or that they can get away with disregarding them.

Psychological stressors are the most common cause of allowing anti-authority traits to run amok. When there is a strong need to get the job done or to get somewhere quickly, one may feel justified in bending the rules. When an anti-authority attitude overwhelms good judgment, the danger zone is close.

  1. Impulsivity

People who frequently feel the need to do something, anything, immediately often fall victim to the “impulsivity” attitude. They don’t think about what they’re about to do before they do it. As a result, they may not think about if they should be doing it at all. Additionally, they often don’t select the best option but instead, do the first thing that comes to mind.

Often, the need to react quickly is necessary in response to a changing situation. However, there are times when quick thinking may lead to trouble. Making a leap from one area to another or moving a ladder with someone on it are just a few examples. Lightning-quick responses are essential to safety and survival in some circumstances, but in most situations, including many emergencies, it’s better to take some time to sort things out before committing to a course of action.

  1. Invulnerability

The third of the five hazardous attitudes is invulnerability. Many people feel that accidents happen to those around them, but not to themselves. They may be smart enough to know that accidents can happen to anyone at any time, but they never really believe that they will be personally involved. People with this mindset are more likely to increase their risk by taking chances.

A built-in sense of invulnerability originates as a survival mechanism. It allows humans to cope with the prospect of injury or death. If everyone believed they would be injured constantly, we would never have left the cave.

People see dreadful things happening to others so they feel that if they make the “right” decisions, they will be fine. Of course, not every incident is a result of unwise decision making; that’s why they’re called accidents. The feeling of invulnerability should be balanced against an equally keen sense of caution.

  1. Macho

“Macho” is all too common in the construction field. Workers often try to prove that they are “tougher” than their peers. People with this attitude want to prove themselves and will do so by taking risks to impress others. While this pattern is thought to be a male characteristic, women are equally susceptible.

Confidence sometimes exceeds ability. When there is an ardent desire to accomplish a goal, people fool themselves into believing that they can do something that stretches the limits of their abilities.

People with a hazardous macho attitude feel the need to continually prove that they are better than others. Foolish chances like carrying too much or driving too fast are done to demonstrate their superior ability. Keeping this attitude in check, and acknowledging limits, is important for the safety of everyone. Being injured while taking a stupid risk is worse than some perceived evaluation of strength.

  1. Resignation

People who think, “What’s the point?” do not see themselves as being able to make a great deal of difference in what happens to them. They are apt to think that it is good luck when things go well, and bad luck when things go poorly. This person might leave action and decision making to others and figure safety is all a matter of chance. That is why the last hazardous attitude is resignation.

Deciding that there is no more that can be done or that the safety plan is “good enough” can become hazardous when an individual gives up in the face of demanding situations. Placing everything in the hands of fate can lead to overlooking noticeably clear and obvious risks. The expression “tempting fate” is apt in these circumstances. Accidents will happen, but it is important that everyone does what they can to prevent them from happening more.

Changing The Five Hazardous Attitudes

In conclusion, physical and physiological stressors can have a huge influence on a person’s perceived limits. When a person is feeling tired, sick, or overwhelmed, they may take on one of the 5 hazardous attitudes. They may not even recognize that they are compromising workplace safety. It might be time to hold a meeting and discuss these safety meeting topics. The chart below details the five hazardous attitudes as well as antidotes for them. Safety is the priority on every job, and avoiding bad attitudes is the first precaution to creating a safe work site.

Five Hazardous Attitudes

Antiauthority“Don’t tell me…”Follow the rules; they’re usually right.
Impulsivity“Do something quickly!”Not so fast-Think first!
“It won’t happen to me….”It could happen to me!
Macho“I can do it.”Taking chances is foolish.
Resignation“What’s the use?”I’m not helpless.

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