Most of us swear by our own common sense, but unfortunately, we all have our own interpretation of what common sense means. Wikipedia defines common sense as:
“a sound practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge that is shared by nearly all people”
Should safety in the workplace not fall under this definition as well or is it even possible?
Unfortunately the term common sense, as defined above, cannot be used when it comes to safety in the workplace because each individual defines common sense as the perceivable risk to themselves based on their level of training or experience, not the level of training and experience that another individual may have. It is because of this that policies and procedures must be put into place by the employer in order to ensure their workers do not solely rely on their own abilities, but also have a basic set of instructions, or rules, that need to be adhered to.
If an employer has implemented policies and procedures that are designed to protect workers, and the supervisor is diligent in enforcing them, why is it that we continue to hear news reports of accidents happening in the workplace? The unfortunate truth is that many workers see some policies and procedures as time consuming and unnecessary. With their level of experience the “it will never happen to me” attitude tends to comes into play, and as some workers may say “it’s common sense, I don’t need those”.
We need to remember that no one is invincible, and anything can happen to anyone should they choose not to follow the rules. If an incident happens in the workplace, the domino effect naturally comes into play; the worker may need to seek medical treatment, the employer loses a worker and therefore production drops, and there may be a financial responsibility that the employer may now be subject to as a result.
Let’s take this one step further and look at how an incident may affect the workers personal life, which many of them never consider. Workers may be permanently injured, they may not be able to do what they enjoy anymore, they may not be able to play with their kids, they may put excessive strain on their partner as a result of not being able to do certain things around the house hold and with their kids, they may put added strain on their personal financial position… they may have kids and a partner that no longer have a father, a mother, or a partner…
The impact a workplace injury or fatality may have on loved ones is one that I don’t think anyone can ever imagine… so why would someone take that risk and allow the chance of it happening?
Ensuring a safe workplace is a responsibility that falls on the shoulders of everyone at every level within an organization, whether it be an office, a garage, a construction site, or a manufacturing facility. We can manage or even eliminate risks should we choose to take workplace safety seriously by following the policies and procedures that our employers have laid out, and start thinking of how our choices affect those around us. Our choices affect the people in our lives that are important to us and rely on us to come home in one piece at the end of each day.
No one should ever get injured or killed in the workplace, that is simply common sense.
David Ardito | Industrial Safety Trainers