When it Comes to Safety, there is Often More Fiction than Fact
Safety managers know that everyone seems to have their own thoughts about workplace safety. In most cases, everyone seems to think that their opinion on the subject is a fact that everyone should follow. Whether it is the executive that thinks that workplace safety is largely a waste of money, or the front line employee who thinks that their experience means they don’t need to wear the proper safety gear, it can be difficult to overcome people’s ideas.
David Castella, a marketing associate at ProcessMAP Corporation looks at all these myths in the industry in a blog post. In it, he asks for input about which ones but safety professionals the most, and which ones make their jobs most difficult.
Common Workplace Safety Myths
In the blog post, Mr. Castella touches on a number of myths that can lead to a loss of safety in the workplace. Some of the key myths he covered include:
- Workplace Safety Isn’t Worth the Time – Many people in both management positions and front line employees think that safety is a waste of time. Helping to show them why this is a myth is one of the most difficult parts of a workplace safety manager’s job.
- Slip & Falls Can’t be Stopped – People often think of slip and fall accidents as events that can be reduced in frequency, but not eliminated. While it is certainly a hard task to eliminate them, that should always be the goal in every workplace.
- There is no such thing as a Perfectly Safe Workplace – This one is similar to the previous myth. When people state that it is impossible to have a perfectly safe workplace, it is essentially giving up. When you have a goal of perfection, you’ll always be striving to make improvements.
It is well worth your time to read through the blog post as he brings up a number of important points, and provides evidence to debunk these and other myths. When Mr. Castella posted this post to the Safety, Health, Environmental, Risk and Community Management group on LinkedIn, it generated some very interesting discussion and ideas. The following are some of the most important.
Carsten Busch made a brief, but profound, comment. He said, “”Common Sense” is another good candidate, for sure!” As a safety manager, it is important not to assume that anyone in the facility is using common sense at all! This is because what is considered common sense to a trained and experienced safety manager may not be all that common at all. Rather than assuming people will or won’t do certain things, it is best to take the time to give explicit instructions so there is no room for error.
Michael Allocco, PE, CSP made the comment, “Consider the myth of simple single hazard or myopic thinking, actually thinking cause, hazard, and effect works when attempting hazard analysis and risk assessment. Why bother?” This brings up an interesting point. When looking at accident reports or investigations, many people really do have specific ideas in their head.
If someone’s goal is to reduce electrical related accidents, for example, they are far more likely to look for those types of issues as a cause of an accident or injury. As a safety manager, investigations must be entirely unbiased at all times. This is far more difficult than it sounds, but when done correctly, it can help ensure progress is made toward a safer work environment.
Armchair Safety Managers
Sasha-Leigh Watridge wrote, “All very good points. What about, it’s not a myth but it makes progress difficult, those that aren’t in the profession but know more than you.” Every safety professional knows this myth of the ‘armchair safety manager.’ People often think they know more about how to improve safety than you, which can make it a big battle when trying to implement change. Safety managers need to be able to find a good balance between listening to other people’s ideas and taking control of a situation to ensure the safety of everyone in the area.
This blog post generated a lot of good conversation, and offers a lot of thought provoking insights. Anyone who works in the safety industry should make an effort to read through the post and see what it means to them.
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