Safety Blind Spots

Imagine you are driving down the road. The scene around you is peaceful, the cars are all going the same speed and the drive so far has been easy. You allow yourself to go into autopilot. Your favorite podcast is playing and your mind begins to wonder.

Soon, you see your exit up ahead. You turn on your blinker and prepare to merge to the right—looking in your mirrors to ensure that you are safe to change lanes. Just moments after you begin to steer into the next lane, a car—which somehow appears out of nowhere—begins to lay on their horn, afraid of the consequences if you don’t stop merging.

I know that most people have been in this situation. Experienced drivers are aware of their blind spots, the areas around the car that cannot be directly seen by the driver while at the controls due to existing circumstances. Throughout the years, you’ve learned to drive with these blind spots because your safety and the safety of your passengers depends on it.

Blind spots, however, can show up in other areas of life as well, even at work. When you talk about blind spots in regards to work and safety, it isn’t as literal as a vehicle’s blind spot. Safety blind spots are situations where a worker is unsafe because of a lack of insight. Sometimes workers—or even employers—don’t even know they have a blind spot, or worse they are aware of the blind spot but they don’t think it will lead to a dangerous situation.

The best way to mitigate safety blind spots is to ensure that you are staying aware of the situations you are in. Assess attitudes and beliefs around safety policies and identify workers who may have blinds spots that need to be addressed.

In the driving scenario before, when you began to merge and heard the car’s horn from your blind spot, what did you do? Hopefully, you slowly redirected and waited for the car to pass before once again trying to merge—this time with more patience and awareness of the cars around you.

When blind spots appear in the workplace, you must allow workers, or even yourself, to recognize these instances and then allow for the ability redirect. Be cognizant of the actions, or non-actions, being taken around the workplace and call out any non-compliance that could be indications of blind spots—it could be the difference in a worker, or several workers, staying safe on the job.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2022 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Editor of Occupational Health & Safety.

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