The Top 5 Safety Myths Debunked

The Top 5 Safety Myths Debunked

Over the last few years, safety has undoubtedly become something like a mantra. While everyone may support the notion of safety, few are actually willing to criticize or scrutinize their actions.

To make matters worse, there is an entire field of safety working under countless pieces of folklore masquerading as bona fide fact.

This perilous gap of understanding has created a seemingly impenetrable barrier toward creating and implementing sound safety habits. Instead of continuing to create initiatives based on common folklore, it's time to debunk some of the top safety myths.

Continue reading for the unraveling of some of the top safety myths.

Myth 1: OSHA Compliance Safety Myths

One of the biggest safety myths is that compliance with OSHA ensures safety. However, the only thing compliance with OSHA ensures is OSHA compliance.

If your business has suffered no accidents, you should definitely count your good fortune. In reality, most statistics suggest businesses in compliance with OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs cite average or worse-than-average injury rates.

While OSHA has developed a relatively extensive set of rules, no rule book can cover all situations. You must be proactive about safety - always looking for new ways to improve processes. By doing so, you can transform your safety protocols into a competitive advantage.

Myth 2: Safety is an Activity or a "Thing"

One of the top safety myths is you must go out and "do" safety. However, safety is a result of several combined actions. Safety is what you get when your people do things properly and things go as planned.

Accidents are the result of something preventing the task from proceeding as intended. Having a plan to keep the task on course, even in the face of disturbances, will ensure a safe task.

Safety, productivity, and quality have always gone hand-in-hand. It's up to you to preemptively design systems to mitigate the effects of disturbances. When you try to deal with safety as an activity or a "thing," problems will arise.

Myth 3: Construction Firms Without Safety Have Lower Bids

It's a fact: construction companies who work safely have less waste, less work turnover, and higher productivity. As a result, the contractor that produces the superior safety results should have the best bid.

This can be attributed to the large number of competitive advantages, such as lower labor costs, reduced insurance costs, and minimize overhead costs. In the end, safe organizations have superior work practices and management.

On the other hand, contractors with poor safety records are commonly seen as dangerous by workers. This results in a higher turnover rate, which increases the unsafe contractor's costs.

In turn, production costs spike because the increased training costs required by a lower skilled labor force. The majority of research suggests newer workers are directly linked to higher rates of accidents.

Myth 4: Incentive Programs Result in Improved Performance

Incentive programs in any social system can quickly become toxic waste. Over periods of time, these types of programs will be seen as entitlements.

At best, the connection between the reward and the intended behavior is lost. At worst, incentive programs drive the reporting of injuries underground, which completely defeats the purpose.

Most incentive programs are only effective at moderately promoting positive changes over a short period of time. If the incentive program is left in place for an extended period of time, the reward must be increased to get the same result.

Myth 5: Safety Programs Will Rectify the Problem

If you create a safety program, you will only have a safety program - not a solution. However, having a process to deliver an outcome of safety and effectively managing the effort to produce safety is significantly different than simply having a safety program.

Unfortunately, many safety programs are only designed to ensure a certain legal obligation is met. As a result, these program are commonly developed entirely separate from the business practices of the firm.

The outcome is typically a few large binders with several chapters dealing with a wide array of subjects. These binders are great at nothing more than gathering dust. While the legal requirements may be satisfied, safety results do not improve.

Get Serious About Safety with Premier Safety Partners

In the end, there are several safety myths that are assumed to be facts. Unfortunately, what you don't know can hurt you when it comes to safety.

It's not good enough to view safety as some passive measure able to be stored away on the shelf. Your organization must have a culture of safety, which permeates throughout every business practice and process.

If your goal is to improve productivity, quality, and the safety of the organization, Premier Safety Partners has a solution. We specialize in construction, space and defense, energy sector, and many other industries. We bring a wealth of experience and have a proven track record of results.

Contact Premier Safety Partners today to get serious about safety.

About the Author

Scott Ray is an industry leader in Health and Safety. Recognized for his business acumen and innovative approach, Scott has a track record in successfully implementing H&S systems that result in fostering a culture of operational excellence. His 25 year Health and Safety career includes both technical and leadership experience within diverse industries including energy/utilities, manufacturing, higher education, construction, defense and aerospace.