Any responsible workplace focuses on safety, they train, they provide safety information and necessary equipment. The problem is the number one cause of workplace accidents is the worker being distracted. How many times have we looked at an accident and shaken our heads because “they knew better”? They most likely knew what they were doing, but in that moment, they were distracted. Even the most focused of us can fall victim to distractions, mainly our own thoughts. Even those in dangerous jobs can become complacent and prone to being distracted. According to one Harvard study we spend almost 50 percent of our waking time thinking about something other than what we’re supposed to be doing.
In order to prevent distraction, the first step is to eliminate external distractions in our environment. Working along other productive people is the best way to eliminate distractions from coworkers. Taking breaks is important to recharge and if possible, any conversations with co-workers could also be delayed for break time. Cell phones can distract us by their mere presence but also messages from home may cause our minds to wander, it is wise to leave the cell phone for break time as well.
Why does our mind wander?
The reason our mind wanders can be as simple as natural cycles in our brains or complicated as stressful situations we are trying to process. When it comes to simple distraction the key is to notice when the mind is distracted and bring the focus back to task. Paying attention to your thoughts and recognizing when your mind starts drifting is crucial. This gives us the ability to redirect our thoughts. One trick is to realize you are off track and bring your thoughts to your breathing. Take a deep breath and hold it for four seconds and then exhale. This acts as a reset for our brains.
Dealing with Stressful thoughts
Stress is the most common reason a person can be lost in thought. There are many legitimate reasons a person might be stressed out or upset. The key, however, is to deal with those situations at the right time and the right place. Give yourself time outside of work to deal with life’s challenges and then make the conscious choice to shelve thoughts about them until its safe to work on them again. If you find your self drifting into those stressful thoughts pull your mind back to where you are. Take a minute to really look around you, take in your environment and remind yourself that the task at hand is the only thing you can resolve at this moment.
The brain is a muscle that can be conditioned and trained. There are a few ways that we can develop focus. One method is called the “Pomodoro Method” and it requires you to set a timer and focus on a task for a period of time and then allow yourself a short break. Try memorizing short bits of information like a long joke, triva or poem every week to give your brain exercise. There are a variety of foods that aid in brain function including fatty fish, coffee, blueberries and dark chocolate to name a few. Having a sharper mind in general won’t prevent distractions completely but will make it easier to return to focus.
Staying present in the moment and focused on the environment you are in is the best accident prevention. Outsource Logistics had a record-breaking year when it came to safety. They won numerous awards and celebrated a year with no accidents. This was a total team effort and everyday started with a commitment to safety. We hope everyone can celebrate again this year. Stay focused and stay safe!
We have entered a new era in technology, and it will have a direct impact on logistics. Outsource Logistics recently purchased six semi-autonomous freightliner trucks for their fleet. The trucks are not quite self-driving but do have some advanced features including blind spot sensors, collision mitigation and a cruise control that adapts to road conditions. These developments have been in the works for decades and are ready to roll.
Self-driving trucks were being developed in the mid-1990’s for combat convoys. The concept was a lead truck would be driven by a human and the following trucks would be manned by satellites. The earliest development came from Komatsu. They tested 5 trucks in Chile in 2005, by 2007 they installed the first working fleet in a mine in Chile. Then a similar project was funded by the army and executed Lockheed Martin. When Caterpillar joined the cause in 2013, it was to address the efficiency in the construction industry. By 2016 multiple companies were testing autonomous trucks. Volvo and Daimler completed a week of driving followed by Uber Technologies. Uber partnered with Anheuser-Busch Inc and had a fully autonomous truck deliver beer 120 miles. In July of 2018 Uber shut down its program after an autonomous passenger vehicle crashed causing a fatality. There is certainly risks involved with new technology, however with over 4,000 deaths a year caused by accidents with large trucks the safety factors outweigh the risk. In June of 2019 Starsky Robotics became the leader in the race by operating a fully unmanned truck on public highways at 55 miles per hour.
There are different levels of automation and although each truck may have different features, they are categized in the following ways:
Level 0-No Automation
Standard cruise control is the only automation at this level.
Level 1 – Driver Assistance
At this level adaptive cruise control and lane assist will aid the driver but leaves most of control in the hands of the driver.
Level 2 – Partial Automation
Assistance with controlling speed and steering. It will help maintain a proper distance between the vehicles and center cars within the lane. Autopilot, Pilot assist and traffic jam assist are features one would find in a level two.
Level 3 – Conditional Automation
These vehicles can drive themselves under perfect road conditions. Drivers can drive with their hands off the wheel but need to be ready to take over if there is a bump in the road!
Level 4 – High Automation
There a few conditions this vehicle cannot maneuver in, this is basically a self-driver
Level 5 – Full Automation
This level is all the automation. This vehicle completely drives itself, may even be made without a steering wheel.
There are still government regulations prohibiting trucks from operating without a driver. Predications indicate that 2030 may see fleets of autonomous trucks on the roadways. This will certainly have repercussion for the workforce but its inevitable. Right now the sweet spot is the safety factor of partial automation.