Myth 1 - Safety is Just "Common Sense"
How many times do people say that Safety is just "Common Sense"?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Why? Well let's look at what "Common Sense" means.
"Common" means everyone i.e. common to everyone.
"Sense" in this saying means a person's intellectual ability which as we know is not the same or common for all persons.
As such, we cannot say that to do something or not do something is "Common Sense" It is all too easy to replace the true cause of incident by saying that the person does not have common sense. But doing this just perpetuates the myth.
Myth 2 - Accidents Just Happen
If we agree that an accident is where an injury or other loss event occurs, then all accidents are incidents but not all incidents are accidents.
Some people state that "accidents just happen" and will always occur. This is a staggering myth as all accidents and thus incidents have causes. Now we can go too far with trying to track back the cause. For example if your school teacher had of taught you something in a different way then maybe you would have understood a certain principle and thus not been involved in an incident. Alternatively, if a workplace did not exist then you could not have been hurt there.
However, the underlying principal of incident investigation is too look for the underlying causes rather than just saying well it just happened. The investigation can be very simple by asking "5 Whys?" or detailed using methods such as ICAM and Taproot.
Whatever method is used it is important to look at all the aspects of the workplace system including:
- Employee training and competency;
- Workplace engineering;
- Hazardous nature of the task and as such were they adequately controlled;
- Work stress levels - either too high or too low;
- Perceived or real pressure to undertake the task within a certain timeframe, especially if that is not achievable;
- Equipment maintenance and failure and faulty alarms circuits that result in subsequent ignoring of alarms.
Whilst it is good to look at the above during an investigation, it is also important to review them before a process or task starts. Safety Resources Australia can assist via either risk assessments or process design reviews - HAZOP studies.