The Top 10 Workplace Safety Myths

There are several articles online listing Workplace Safety Myths, so I decided to do a research and publish the best 10 myths I found.
From the most important one, down to the funniest one, the top 10 Workplace Safety Myths are:

Myth # 1: Safety is just common sense

No organisation should rely on workers to use common sense. There must be an effective risk management policy in place. There is a myth about common sense, which fails to understand that one person’s instinct might differ greatly from another’s. This is particularly true if they are a young or inexperienced worker.
Good sense is acquired through knowledge and experience. That’s why safety inductions, toolbox talks, and good communication between workers and line supervisors are all vital ingredients for making workplaces safe.

Myth # 2: It will never happen here.
The truth is that workplace accidents or violence can happen in any business, at anytime, and anywhere. And, they do.

Myth # 3: Workplace Violence is Random and Unpredictable

Violence can be random and unpredictable in some cases. However, there are several cases when a pattern of behaviour begins to emerge. A lot of times people ignore warning signs until it is too late. In 80% of all incidents of workplace violence, the are warning signs that went unheeded.
Awareness heads the list and is the easiest and most successful means for surviving a workplace violence attack. Early awareness and action can save property, lives, and money.
Verbal threats of violence are a real warning sign. Verbal threats of violence should not be ignored or played down as “just talk”.

Myth # 4: Risk assessment is too complicated

Carrying out a risk assessment should be straightforward. It’s about focusing on real risks and hazards that cause real harm and, more importantly, taking action to control them.

Myth # 5: Musculoskeletal injuries are inevitable with manual labour.

Workplaces with hazardous manual tasks have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workers. The risks of injury associated with hazardous manual tasks must be controlled.
Advances in technology means there are many practical options to assist employers to control the risk of injury.

Myth #6: Workplace health and safety systems are rigid and stop us getting real work done.

The mention of ‘workplace health and safety’ is sometimes met with cynicism. However, it’s not about slowing productivity, but rather finding safer, smarter, more cost effective ways of getting work done.

Myth # 7: Myth: Every possible risk needs a safety sign

Using too many signs just guarantees no one will read any of them.
Safety signs are useful when there’s a significant risk which can’t be avoided or controlled in any other way. But that doesn’t mean you should add a sign for every possible risk, however trivial.
Where there are serious risks in your workplace, don’t just rely on signs – take practical steps to deal with them. If you do need a sign, make sure it has the right symbol and is clearly visible.

Myth # 8: PPE will keep everyone safe.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) helps to keep workers safe, but the employees must be trained on how to use them. In several cases, PPE equipment is there as a last line of defence, you don’t want them to be really required to do any work.
Workplaces should implement engineering controls, such as machine guards to protect fingers from sharp moving devices. Rotating tasks to avoid repetitive motion injuries is also a way to avoid injuries (and boredom!).

MYTH #9: Some people are just accident prone

Some people are clumsier or more absent-minded than others, it is true. But they can’t take all the blame. Good management means looking out for these people. In an organisation, if somebody is having a high level of small accidents at work, something might be wrong. It is the supervisor/manager duty to identify the problem and find out the reason why this particular employee is having so many accidents. Is he getting enough sleep? Does he have any personal problems? Is he depressed? Drinking? Or is there another reason?

Myth # 10: Flip flops are banned from the workplace

Finally, the last myth and this is a funny one. I found it on many websites from the US and I thought it was a great myth to end this article.
How did this myth start?
Apparently, sometime in 2007, bosses at Oldham Council (US) banned staff from wearing flip-flops and sandals to work, citing health and safety. They feared people who wear the flimsy footwear are more likely to trip and injure themselves.There was another widely reported ban in 2013 for staff working at Plymouth City Council (also in the US). it is noteworthy to mention that the reason for the ban was to remind workers to dress appropriately for a working environment. The later report stirred up the flip-flop ban myth again with members of the public citing health and safety reasons for the ban.

Research and information for this post was obtained from the following websites:

WorkSafe Queensland

Safety ED

Stay Legal

HSE UK

The Safety Brief