In a recent study, estimates show that over 600,000 workers are injured annually in workplace accidents. A further 500,000 workers suffer new ailments that are believed to be caused or made worse by their work. In the last two years alone, almost 200 workers were fatally injured while on the job. While very disconcerting, all these statistics can be attributed to a lack of proper personal protective clothing as well as other neglected hazards around the workplace.
Believe it or not, many of these accidents can also be related to some careless myths. Whether based on pure misconception, ignorance or passed down generation after generations, these present day myths concerning workplace safety may just be responsible for a large percentage of workplace accidents. In an effort to reduce these numbers and save the lives and limbs of millions of workers, we shed some light on some of the worst workplace myths ever. If you’re laboring or working under any of the following myths, you just might be putting your employees and business at risk.
Setting Things Straight!
Myth 1: Workplace Health and Safety Is Just Common Sense
First off, I’ll admit that your common sense may go very far towards keeping you relatively safe on your typical, regular activities out of the workplace. Your wit and critical thinking may also help you assess hazards and potential risks positioned all around your workplace. However, your primary job does not involve risk assessment, it involves constructing that building or operating the heavy machinery. Point is, you are bound to get distracted as you focus on your job and forget about the hazards. This makes identifying them a bit more trickier than before. Workplace safety is not common sense, no matter how alert and responsive you are, accidents are aptly named so because you never see them coming. Always ensure you are wearing proper protective equipment such as hard hats and safety work boots.
Myth 2: Complying with Health and Safety regulations is Expensive
Again, like with every myth and legend that has ever existed, they are often based on some form of truth. In this case, taking safety measures and adhering to industry regulations does cost both employers and employees some money upfront. However, the training and equipment received saves you more lives as well as money in the long run. The costs associated with various work related injuries and conditions alone can literally cripple your business. With the fines, sick pay, legal costs, repairs, compensation, law suits and other unforeseen fees, the costs have the potential to be astronomical. As an employer, always ensue that your staff is well protected to avoid hefty losses.
Myth 3: Employers Must provide PPE such as Safety Boots, But Employees Can Choose not To Wear It
Most employers think that just because they have made all the necessary resources and equipment available to their staff, it’s the workers job to wear it. The truth is that the bosses’ responsibilities do not end with purchasing the safety gear. All employers are held liable by the law should any injury occur in the workplace as a result of failure to enforce the use of personal protective equipment. That means if any of your workers get their toes broken on the job while not wearing their safety toe boots, it’s all on you. However, employees also have the right to opt out of using their safety gear if they find it a poor fit, uncomfortable, or unattractive in any way.
Myth 4: Protective Safety Gear is Uncomfortable and Burdensome
While this may have been true a few decades ago, this in entirely not the case today. Thanks to technology advancements and clever, innovative designs, current personal protective equipment comes lighter and more comfortable than ever. This is very evident in safety boots that come in a slew of different shapes and sizes. You don’t have to compromise on your comfort or performance just to stay protected in the workplace. With a great pair of safety boots and other protective gear, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.
Myth 5: Accidents Just Happen, There’s No Such Thing as a Hazard Free Workplace
This is one of the most rampant myths about workplace safety that most people use to justify accidents. Research has proved that over 99 percent of all workplace accidents could have been avoided or prevented in one way or the other. Workplace safety requires the employers to be proactive and not reactive when it comes to creating the most conducive environments for safety. All your action as the boss should target an average rate of zero work injuries. It is also important to note that situations and environments change over time. This makes it twice as hard to identify and control all the potential risks and hazards around the workplace. As such, all your workplace safety practices should be as disciplined as they are diligent.
Whether you are an honest, caring, law abiding employer or a diligent, hard working employee, it is very important to know when to separate myth from reality. Allowing these myths to dictate your workplace safety practices can only lead to one disastrous outcome. If you base your safety practices on fact and enforce them with discipline and diligence, you are one step closer to a truly hazard and injury free workplace. Not only will this save your business some hard earned money and resources, but it will at the very best save the lives and limbs of your work force.