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How Neuroscience Impacts Safety in Construction & Other Industries

The haunting terrors of guilt that distract you from daily tasks, the gut-wrenching knots that twist tighter with each “what if” thought, the never-ending ripple effect that constantly reminds you of the past or fills you with fear of the future… Can you relate to any of these experiences?

If you've ever made a critical choice in life, you’ve probably felt this way to some degree.

Every day, we make infinite choices that impact ourselves, our families, our companies, our colleagues, and our communities. Little choices can make big differences, elevating the timeless relevance and importance of Safety Week 2019’s theme: Safe by Choice.

After all, many of life's most important choices are related to safety in one way or another. From emotional and intellectual, to physical and financial, human nature often equips us to make choices that offer a form of protection

What’s in a choice? When you enter the previous question in a Google search bar, the top result will tell you “choice involves decision making.” However, a better understanding of how the human brain makes those decisions is critical to making safe choices every day.

Neuroscience studies reveal there are only three ways in which the human brain decides what to do next: reflex-oriented, habit-oriented, and goal-oriented.


Reflexes and habits are automatic and require less cognitive energy, while goals are strategic and require more cognitive energy.

If your goals are to get home safely or work without fear of injury, holding yourself and others accountable for making safe decisions is a must. Although not everyone has the capacity to spend energy on goal-oriented decisions for every choice they face throughout the day, the value of habits can play a pivotal role.

Conscious v. Subconscious Safety

Reflexes are subconscious, and habits are conscious at first. The more we repeat the habit, the less we must think about it and it eventually becomes subconscious. Is there an occasion in your life that exemplifies this concept? Can you identify a guilty pleasure that evolved into a mindless behavior?

The more you indulge in compromising safety, the more innate your unsafe work behaviors become. The good news? The more you integrate safe behaviors into your habits, the more likely you are to get home safely

From overreaching on ladders to distracted driving, there’s plenty of unsafe temptations around that are difficult to resist. Regardless of your industry or role, making conscious decisions through safe habits and goals can help you be Safe by Choice.

Keep Projects on Time, Within Budget, and Safe

If you want to make a quality impact in all that you do, keeping the neuroscience of decision making in mind can help you get on the right track and finish strong

Resources for Construction Safety Week 2019

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Categories: Blog