Having the correct health and safety measures in place at work is essential for your employees so they understand the risks health and safety hazards pose. However, there may be instances where the best way to approach the management of health and safety at work and how to conduct training is a point of tension.
The management of health and safety at work is important for every organisation. There was a question posted on a social media website recently that went along the lines of ‘I was asked at an interview “do you think that safety is common sense?” Any thoughts on how you might respond to if this question was asked of you?
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Perspectives on the management of health and safety at work
There then ensued a volley of responses. Some were from health and safety practitioners who appeared from the tone of their response to be rather indignant that such a question should be asked about the management of health and safety at work and that the interviewer was in some way belittling the complexity of health and safety management and the profession.
Other responders then tried to define what common sense is, to try and answer the question. The remainder deferred to explaining that common sense isn’t that common and provided some examples. Here are some of the responses:
‘I for one would like to see the person that asked you that try and use that as a defence when talking to the HSE after an “accident” in their workplace. I think the term competent person would be brought up fairly quickly, along with training, risk assessments etc. I would like to think I have “common sense” but it wouldn’t help me operate a piece of potentially dangerous equipment if I didn’t have the relevant skills and training.’
‘I would first ask the interviewer what he/she meant by common sense – and you’d find that they don’t know!!! I guess they mean things that people would do naturally because it is self-evident that it is good to do them and if you don’t do them it will hurt you. For example, it is common sense not to stick your hand in a fire because it will burn you. If that is what it means, then your answer would be yes for some people and no for other people.’
‘The Merriam Webster online dictionary defines common sense as; sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. This looks a lot to me like common sense is a behavioural tool. Just maybe if we practice behaviour-based safety then those we instruct and interact with will have the same judgment based on perceived hazards and conditions. Thus possibly we would share common sense?’
‘Thomas Alva Edison once was quoted as saying “the three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work, second, stick-to-itiveness, and third, common sense.” Last time I checked he was one of our greatest innovators and I do not think he was trying to justify his lack of understanding.’
The offering Praxis42 made was: ‘My standard response is that yes health and safety does appear to be common sense but common sense may not be common to everyone!’
This case of a Birmingham radio station is the example I use to support my point and perhaps shows how common sense cannot always be assumed, the importance of underpinning health and safety knowledge and the need to assess risks in an activity.
Does Praxis42 offer training for the management of health and safety at work?
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If you want to strengthen the management of health and safety at work in your organisation, contact Praxis42 and a member of our team will help you.
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