Tunnel vision, a lack of situational awareness, familiarity breeds complacency.
There is nothing more familiar than walking across the work area as you do every day. Driving the same route to and from work. Performing the same task day in and day out. These tasks become automatic and you no longer engage your brain. But this type of blindness goes a step further. This situation is being so focused that you truly become blind to anything else. When this happens we effectively become blind to what we may be walking right into.
So what can we do? Take steps to disrupt complacency and routine. Discuss this specific hazard in safety meetings and toolbox talks. The safety signage and posters (periodically changed) can alter the work environment enough to break the routine. Consider task and personnel rotations when feasible. Site-safety walks where persons inspect areas where they typically do not work can be very effective, “fresh-eyes” will often see hazards others didn’t see. Have a safety-walk of the job, no other focus. Just seek out workplace hazards that can be corrected.
-Frank Wampol, Vice President of Safety and Health