Is Workplace Safety Simply About Common Sense?

Is workplace health and safety just common sense? It sounds plausible enough, but really, it’s far from it. The thing is that common sense isn’t that common. If it were, there would be far fewer safety incidents and injuries in the workplace. Furthermore, common sense isn’t something we are born with. It is actually something that we learn through experience over the course of our lives. To suggest that workplace health and safety relies on common sense implies that it will just happen without effort.

What is Common Sense?

Is common sense both universal and straightforward? According to how it is defined, common sense doesn’t come from specialised knowledge, but rather as a result of built-in good judgement. If such a definition were true, there would be no need for instruction or guidance in workplace safety. By using our common sense, we would all naturally know how to keep safe under any circumstances. We would all be able to work it out by ourselves and depend on our good judgement. But how can we make sensible judgements about health and safety risks without having specialist knowledge? And, how is common sense acquired in the first instance?

If common sense is real, it must be accumulated over time just like other knowledge. Perhaps we are all able to learn it, but we all acquire knowledge at a different pace in relation to our differing life experiences. So, what happens with workplace health and safety in the period when we are still accumulating our common sense?

Relying on Common Sense Leads to Safety Issues.

If we rely on common sense, we will tend to simplify what is required to make a situation safe. We won’t consider other people’s levels of experience and how they may interpret any given situation. By just telling someone to be careful or be sensible, we assume that they will understand what they need to do and thus, we give them a false sense of security.

However, the human mind is complex. Many factors influence our behaviour and what makes sense in any situation. If we give credence to common sense, then it follows that anyone who sustains an injury might lack it.

Furthermore, even if we have the appropriate knowledge, we don’t necessarily always use our common sense. Sometimes we simply like to play the fool. So, when it comes to the question of safety in the workplace, we can probably all benefit from some common sense safety training.

The Value of Solid Safety Practices.Although we probably can’t teach common sense, we can teach safety. To improve workplace safety, it is important to provide good education and offer the right experiences. This can be done by implementing the necessary training in appropriate procedures and practices. To ensure workplace safety, people need to make sound decisions based on training. Although safety training isn’t enough, people can be helped to make sensible choices. Safety needs to be an intrinsic part of workplace culture. It needs to become an instinct that can be relied upon.