Impulse Control and its importance for HSE

Poor impulse control can have severe consequences! BUT IT CAN EASILY BE TRAINED! 

“When I realised my hand was inside the machine, I knew I had done something wrong.” 
I know for a fact that all of you have similar stories with more or less the same ending of someone getting hurt. 
Why is it that an employee with 20 years of experience, that is well educated, well respected, and well rested, suddenly puts his hand in a machinery that he has been operating for years? 
There’s a high likelihood that the accident happened due to poor impulse control; the impulse control being such a profound part of why and how we behave as people and how we live our lives.
A classic example of the importance of impulse control was shown in the famous Marshmallow Test conducted in 1960 at Stanford University by professor Walter Mischel. Here, a group of children were given the opportunity to have 1 marshmallow or to wait 10 minutes and then instead get 2 marshmallows, 10 more minutes to get 3 marshmallows and so on. 20 years later the study could conclude that the longer a child could wait for a marshmallow, the better they managed in their adult life.
Of course the above mentioned experiment has been debated throughout the years, but it succeeds in setting the frame: working on our impulse control is important! And in the modern world with all its distractions it is more important than ever before. People that used to read books now can't find the focus to even read a couple of pages; they much rather want to spend their time on social media where they can get that instant gratification.
What happens inside the brain?
We often describe humans suffering damage to the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) as being impulsive. The most famous example of a person suffering such damage is the rail worker, Phineas Gage, who in 1848 suffered extreme frontal lobe damage when a long iron rod was projected through his skull after an accidental explosion. Gage survived, but was reported to have an extreme change in personality, including increased impulsiveness, and he couldn’t manage his job nor his family after the accident. This, of course, is a very severe case of suffering, but it nonetheless demonstrates how important the OFC circuit is for our everyday life and our decision-making skills. The circuit thus begins with a pyramidal output from the Orbitofrontal Cortex to the central parts of the Nucleus Caudate in the Striatal complex, then to the thalamus and then back to the OFC. All affecting our impulse control.
By training our impulse control we thus gain more control over our behaviour, problem solving skills, and, moreover, improve our resilience. If we can distribute this knowledge and training to our employees it will help us in our goal of improving the work safety and allowing us to send people home in one piece. It is therefore crucial to equip the organisations with knowledge and easy to apply methods to increase the impulse control of its employees.

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