Common sense is a term everyone has heard of and which is used to describe sound judgement based on simple observation backed up with reasonable behaviour and good decision making.
As it applies to workplace safety, it is something that everyone has but not everyone uses. That’s why we have safety rules all around us. Common sense safety is something a person is born with, or in some cases, without. While you can’t teach common sense safety, you can teach safety concepts and condition it or hope that your employees have enough sense to follow the rules and guidelines you have given to them.
What is the relation between common sense and safety rules? Are they interlinked or do they exclude each other? How far should we go with the safety rules and reminders?
If you order a cup of coffee to go and you are waiting in the queue for it to be freshly made, do you really need “Hot content” statement on your lid when the coffee is handed to you? It looks like that in safety the first thing we should do is deactivate the ability known as common sense.
Is it common sense not to stick your finger in an electrical outlet? Were you born with that knowledge or did you learn it? Do we all have that same knowledge?
The fact is that people learn in many ways. The most common way of learning is through experience, either your own or the experience of others. The common sense is in the fact the knowledge gained by an individual through their life experience, education or training linked with the ability to make decisions.
Safety is often nothing more than common sense! It is generally accepted that at least 85% of all accidents are preventable. Taking personal responsibility for your work habits and work area and recognizing that an accident is most likely preventable is the first step to a safer workplace.
A preventable part of the accident is the one we gather information about in our life through learning or experience. But there is also another part of an accident which is also preventable with appropriate training.
So, safety is not in whole about common sense which is important as proper Power Skills training can significantly reduce the amount of accidents.
It is much more convenient for individuals, as well as for organizations, to gain knowledge and make sound decisions based on good training than to learn through a bad experience and/or trial and error.
It is not safe to assume that everyone has the same knowledge or the amount of the experience in what we consider to be common sense, which can’t replace strong safety practices, but it can be used in conjunction.
If organisation ensures everyone receives the right Power Skills training and gains the similar level of knowledge, then everyone should have a bit more common sense to lean upon. That is why we need training and coaching.
The goal is to get everyone to approximately the same level of Common sense so that everyone will make good judgments and decisions about taking risks and working safely.