Safety is Common Sense – Debunked

The phrase I hear most often when I tell people what I do for a living is “safety is pretty much common sense” while on a basic level this can be somewhat true, there are several factors that make this a false statement.  One important factor is perception.  Sometimes our logic is impaired by our perception of a situation.  A good way to illustrate this is the accident record of a single pilot aircraft vs. an aircraft with additional flight crew. The AV-8B Harrier has an accident rate three times that of the F/A-18 Super Hornet.  The difference is, the Harrier is piloted solo whereas the Super Hornet has a crew of two.  When the Harrier pilots perception of a situation is flawed, there is no feedback to correct course and avoid an accident.  When the pilot of the Super Hornet perceives a situation incorrectly, the Weapons and Systems Officer (WSO) can call the pilot out; the two can then work as a team to correct the situation and avert disaster.  Barring the carrying out of nefarious plans, no one wants to crash an aircraft and no one wants to get hurt at work.

Clear Standards Save Lives

Yet both happen quite regularly.  One of the saving graces that prevents aircrew from dying more often than they do are the strict programs in place to standardize an extremely unsafe process.  These programs provide the procedures, training, and hazard recognition aircrew need to navigate the friendly skies in the safest manner possible.  In 1971 the Federal Government created OSHA and set-forth to create standards to protect the health and safety of American workers.  The 29 CFR 1910 (for General Industry) and 1926 (for Construction) were the standards created for this purpose. Still, navigating these standards is not a simple task.  There are strict requirements for the establishment and maintenance of programs for employers with 10 or more employees.

Safety Programs Explained

These programs are the foundation to any employee safety program.  With the establishment of OSHA compliant safety programs, a company is well on its way to protecting their workers.  Safety programs help establish ground rules for some of the more hazardous work in a facility; controlling hazardous energy, guarding machinery from hazardous points of operation, protecting employees from chemical exposures, and ensuring the proper training is carried out to inform the employee population of the hazards and responsibilities associated with their work.

Safety Programs are only the Foundation

However, OSHA required safety programs are only the foundation.  Each process at a facility needs to be evaluated and audited for safety regularly, the facility itself is no exception.  The programs need to be audited to ensure they are up to date on any changes OSHA makes between editions of the 29 CFR.  Training needs to be continuous for the sake of new employees and the forgetfulness of legacy employees.  New business units and processes must be evaluated to ensure their safety before employees are exposed to potential hazards. Depending on the size of an employee population, the maintenance of a safety program can require a dedicated safety specialist (or 3). 

Let Orient Safety Help You

Safety is a full-time job and there are times that all of an organizations needs cannot be met by a single safety specialist, or even a team of safety specialists engaged in other projects.  Orient Safety can help bridge that gap by offering expertise in program development, auditing, hazard analysis, training, management of change, and much more.  If you are part of an organization that is starting-up and in need of tailored safety programs, we can help with that too.  Visit our website to learn more about the services we offer, and visit our Contact Us page to let us know what you are looking for.  We look forward to working with you!

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