Separating Fact From Fiction: The Worst Workplace Safety Myths
Whether they are old chestnuts passed down from traditional safety views of yesteryear or based on pure misconception and ignorance, present-day myths abound concerning workplace safety.
If you're laboring under any of these myths, you are putting your business and your employees at risk.
Myth 1: "Complying with health and safety laws costs money."�
Fact: The truth is, taking safety measures through safety training and adhering to OSHA compliance laws may cost you some money upfront, but it saves you more money and lives in the long run.
The costs associated with work-related injuries and illness -- sick pay, fines, legal costs and repairs -- depending on the accident and injury, have the potential to be astronomical.
Myth 2: "Health and safety ... that's just common sense."�
Fact: Your common sense might go a long way in keeping you relatively safe in your daily activities outside of the workplace. And, of course, thinking is critical to assessing hazards and risks in your workplace. However, the hazards and risks your employees face on the job are trickier and the consequences are more severe than what you confront walking down a sidewalk in broad daylight.
Carrying out specified risk assessments of your work environment, along with proper safety training, goes a long way in preventing accidents from occurring.
Myth 3: "I must provide personal protective equipment (PPE), but my employees can choose not to use it."�
Fact: The bottom line is that employers are responsible for the safety of their employees. OSHA requires the use of PPE to reduce employee exposure to hazards, and employers are required to determine if PPE should be used to protect their workers.
However, employees cannot opt out of using PPE because they find it uncomfortable, a poor fit or unattractive. Also, employers are held responsible should injury occur through failure to enforce the use of PPE.
Myth 4: "My employees are just careless."�
Fact: The cause of almost all workplace injuries and illness is unsafe practices. The only way to avoid them is through safety training, supervision, coaching and other system changes.
Employees do unsafe things because either they don't know their behavior is unsafe or they may perceive a payoff for their unsafe behavior (such as a temporary gain in production speed). You have to address safety regularly and consistently. Safety is not a one-shot deal but an ongoing, daily effort.
Myth 5: "Accidents just happen -- you cannot create a hazard-free workplace"�
Safety is an action word and requires you to do something through leadership. Your facility should be targeting zero injuries. And although situations change over time, making it difficult to identify and control hazards, all that means is your workplace safety efforts must be disciplined and diligent.
Don't let these myths dictate your workplace safety practices. Base your safety practices on the facts. At the very least it'll save your business some money. At the very best, it will save lives.