‘Lazy Expert Syndrome’ is a phrase coined by the people over at Riskology that essentially amounts to ‘complacency’, but their article is well worth a read for some concrete, real world examples.
Have a read, we’ll be waiting.
Finished? Great. We’re going to talk about when complacency shows up in health and safety, who is responsible for it, and who suffers with the results.
Image by Chris Breeze
When Does Lazy Expert Syndrome Manifest?
If supervisors and safety officers get complacent, they are obviously not doing their job. The Riskology article suggests one solution, the mentor/mentee program. But what contributes to complacency? How can companies nip it in the bud, and how is it their responsibility when things go wrong?
Complacency And Risk Assessments
Risk assessments are unlike most forms that business owners have to deal with, in that they can’t ‘set and forget’ any part of them. Risk and safety in most businesses is constantly changing, and inadequate risk assessments are often caused by complacency within the business.
Occasions when health and safety or business owners almost certainly need to re-evaluate their risk assessment process and forms include:
- After changes within the industry.
- After changes within your workforce.
- After moving operations to a new location.
- After refurbishing your current location.
- When new risks come to light from materials and tools you work with regularly.
- On a regular basis, as part of an on-going review and renewal process.
- After you become aware that other companies have updated their own risk assessment practices.
Workers should be asked on a regular basis about the most dangerous parts of their jobs in order to keep risk assessments relevant and up-to-date, and health-and-safety reps absolutely must be listened to.
Complacency Around Manual Handling
Manual handling is one of the biggest risks to workers in the UK, and it should be a priority for employers seeking to minimise their employee’s exposure to danger.
The back injuries caused by inappropriate manual handling can last a lifetime, and their impact should not be underestimated or dismissed.
When arranging manual handling on a regular basis, it is all too easy for complacent employers or complacent management to simply request manual handling without considering if there is an alternative way to get the job done. This alone could count against you (or your employer), as you are required to avoid the need for manual handling that could cause injury as much as is reasonable. An example of growing complacent around manual handling in this way could be a small furniture company that requires its staff to haul furniture long after it has the capability to take on specialist help.
Individual staff capability for manual handling should also be assessed, and adjusted if necessary. This is close to the area that the Riskology article was discussing as lazy expert syndrome, as competence of staff members may decline over time with complacency, too.
Complacency And Minor Accidents Or Hazards
Minor accidents and hazards are just as significant as major as signs that something is wrong.
This is not just the responsibility of the employer/management/supervisory staff, but of workers. All accidents and hazards should be properly recorded, and any associated risks must be promptly and accurately reported to your employer. It is then the employer’s responsibility to decide what to do with the information.
A complacent workplace leads to a lower chance that minor accidents will be properly reported, which leads to much more serious accidents further down the line. It is essential that small accidents are treated as serious signs of hazards and dangers in the workplace.
If an employer ignores important information related to an accident you’ve had or a hazard you’ve encountered, you should make sure you speak to a safety representative. If your employer’s actions lead to a personal injury, contact us free of obligation to talk about your case.
Who Suffers? Who’s To Blame?
The name ‘Lazy Expert Syndrome’ makes us want to blame the worker, who let themselves get too comfortable in their job. However, the processes, working conditions and working practices within a company are ultimately the responsibility of the employer.
This is why we prefer to call it complacency, which is endemic to a system, rather than ‘Lazy expert syndrome’, which suggests the worker is to blame.
Ultimately, it’s often the fault of the company when accidents happen, and it’s often the ordinary worker who suffers. Get in touch with LoyaltyLaw today and we can help make sure that justice is done.