Even when performing routine tasks, cats continually watch for dangers, a habit that would also help humans in the workforce. Image courtesy of "hagit" at www.sxc.hu
Repetitive tasks on a job can increase the risk of injury. As people become comfortable with the task, they establish mental shortcuts to selectively block out unnecessary information. While this reduces stress and improves efficiency, it can also block information necessary to prevent accidents.
Simply urging people to pay more attention seldom has a significant or lasting effect. Here are some suggestions that are more likely to improve attentiveness.
Selection - People vary in their ability to deal with information presented to them. Select workers whose skills correlate with the task at hand.
Mental workload - Try to balance the mental workload. Too much work can tax abilities, while too little can create complacency.
Avoid interruptions - Any sudden change could startle a person, breaking their concentration. Try to avoid making loud noises.
Rest - Lack of sleep can decrease reaction time, shorten attention spans and disturb a person's ability to process information.
Diminished abilities - Poor health, major life events or use of medications can adversely affect one's attentiveness to the task at hand.
Fitness - Overall fitness correlates with improved mental abilities. Participate in regular aerobic exercise, healthy eating and activities that stimulate the brain.