People are worried about a serious hazard they can’t see. They’re being forced to change the way they do their jobs, some in very significant ways. They’re worried about their families and their health. In their off hours, they can’t do the things they’re used to doing.
With stress elevated to the level it is, it’s only natural to conclude that safety performance would suffer significantly.
Is that what’s happening on your job? In your operation?
If it is, that would be perfectly understandable. But there are lot of operations that are experiencing exactly the opposite effect. Safety performance has gotten better – not worse!
That serves to teach us something useful about stress. Stress isn’t always a bad thing. In the right amount, stress causes us to raise our game, and forces us to do things better.
Yes, too much stress can be harmful, but not enough stress all too often leads to complacency.