Safety Myths That Are Not True
One of the biggest problems with facility safety is that there are many myths that are repeated on a regular basis. These myths are not just untrue, but they can actually make a facility more dangerous. When these myths are constantly repeated, people start believing them, which often means they stop looking for better solutions.
Review the following myths, and the truth about the topic, and see what changes you can make to help improve the overall safety of your facility.
Let’s Debunk These 5 Safety Myths
Myth #1 – Sometimes Accidents Just Happen
This is perhaps the most commonly repeated myth, and one that is often said after a safety manager or other individuals have given up finding the root cause of an accident or injury. While it may, occasionally, be impossible to get to the actual cause of an accident, it is never a good idea to repeat this myth.
The reality is, almost all accidents are preventable, which is why it is so important to work hard to find out why an accident occurred so that it can be prevented in the future. In fact, according to The American Society of Safety Engineers, 99% of accidents are preventable.
Myth #2 – Injury Repeaters Are Just Accident Prone
Another common myth is that those who experience frequent injuries at the workplace are likely to just be accident prone. While it is certainly true that some people have more accidents than others, this doesn’t mean that they are a hopeless case. It certainly doesn’t mean that they should be fired, or allowed to continue experiencing accidents.
There have been many studies done on those who experience the most accidents in the workplace, and it was found that there are a number of factors that are often at play. The following information from Occupational & Health Safety Online can help you to determine why some people are having more accidents than others:
- Emotional States – When people are upset, they often experience more accidents. This is because they can be distracted or even depressed. Long term emotional problems, such as going through a divorce or the death of a loved one, can really put people at risk. Consider offering some type of counseling or other services to help with these issues.
- Training Issues – In many cases, what may seem like accident proneness is actually an issue with training. People often don’t like admitting that they don’t know how to do something properly and asking for help. This can lead to significant accidents and injuries.
- Disengaged Workers – When employees are not engaged at their jobs, they are more likely to take shortcuts and other potentially dangerous steps. Keeping people actively engaged at work can be difficult, but it is well worth the effort. Make sure you are aware of how people feel about their jobs as this can be a good indication of how likely they are to experience an accident.
Myth #3 – Having Personal Protection Equipment Means People Are Safe
One of the most potentially hazardous myths that people share is that when you provide personal protection equipment (PPE) you have done all that is required for safety. The reality is, however, that PPE should really just be the last line of defense against accidents and injuries.
It is far better to be able to prevent an incident so that the PPE is not used than it is to rely on this equipment to keep people safe. OSHA specifically states (in their publication about PPE), “Controlling a hazard at its source is the best way to protect employees. Depending on the hazard or workplace conditions, OSHA recommends the use of engineering or work practice controls to manage or eliminate hazards to the greatest extent possible.”
This shows that even OSHA, an agency that often requires the use of PPE, knows that this is a last line of defense. Adding PPE should never be considered an actual safety improvement, but rather an injury avoidance tool.
For example, having a gas mask provided to employees working with dangerous chemicals is important. It is even more important, however, to make sure you are using proper safety labels (easily printed on your industrial label maker) on all containers. This will help ensure people are taking the right precautions, which can actually improve safety and not just prevent injury.
Myth #4 – All Safety Gloves Are the Same
Safety gloves are extremely important for keeping people’s hands and fingers protected while working. The myth, however, is that all safety gloves are the same. In reality, different jobs require different types of safety gloves.
For example, leather gloves (similar to these) can often provide a lot of protection against many things, but they aren’t great for working with sharp glass and other cutting tools. They also won’t stand up to most corrosive chemicals. Other gloves are made to resist almost any cutting, but shouldn’t be used with electrical equipment. Always having the right hand protection for the right job is absolutely essential.
Myth #5 – Disciplining Employees After Accidents Is a Good Preventative
Many accidents are caused by employee mistakes or violations of existing safety standards. This is why many facilities mistakenly believe that when an accident occurs because of a safety violation, they should be disciplined.
In reality, however, this is almost never a good idea. The employees will know that what they did was wrong already, and their injury will be a reminder of that. In fact, OSHA has recently updated a policy that says that employers should not enforce safety and health rules after an injury in most cases.
Reviewing the OSHA policy, and making sure you are always putting accident prevention first and not just immediately moving to disciplinary action is very important.
Never Use Safety Myths
With all of these safety myths, the most important thing you can do is make sure you aren’t repeating them. This will only cause others to believe that they are true, which will make the entire facility less safe in the long run. Having an open and accurate safety policy is absolutely essential.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration– creativesafetysupply.com
- Safety Myths We Could All Live Without– blog.creativesafetysupply.com
- Human Factors – How Do They Impact Safety?– realsafety.org
- Unknown Workplace Hazards – How Should We Deal with Them?– creativesafetypublishing.com
- Preventing Accidents by Improving Crane Safety– babelplex.com
- The Affects of Workplace Engagement– blog.5stoday.com
- Workplace Safety & Foot Protection– lean-news.com
- What is PPE? – 10 Ways to Protect Workers– blog.labeltac.com
- Safety Lean Manufacturing – 5 Ways to Combine Safety and Lean– iecieeechallenge.org