Safety and OSHA News

Top 10 office annoyances: Safety makes the list


Ranking right up there with poor restroom etiquette and people not showing up for meetings, it turns out some workers find safety … annoying.

Some of the items on London-based Opinium research’s Top 10 list of office annoyances make perfect sense.

Take, for example, the top vote getter: grumpy or moody colleagues (37%). Sure, no one like a sourpuss.

In second place, slow computers (36%). OK, we get that one, too.

But “too much health and safety in the work place” comes in at No. 6. (16%). The same percentage of people surveyed chose “poor toilet etiquette” and “people not turning up for meetings on time or at all.”

Too much safety: Really?

Maybe it’s because health was lumped in there with safety. While we’ll support the idea that employee health is important, perhaps the recent focus on wellness programs has turned some people off.

It’s possible the person who requested healthy snacks in the vending machine has become one of the most unpopular people in the office.

Also, it might be a good idea not to ask safety trainees to “think outside the box” or to “drill down to a more granular level.”

Those two phrases appear on a companion list of most annoying office jargon.

Here are both complete lists:

Top 10 office annoyances:

1. Grumpy or moody colleagues (37%)

2. Slow computers (36%)

3. Small talk/gossip in the office (19%)

4. The use of office jargon or management-speak (18%)

5. People speaking loudly on the phone (18%)

6. Too much health and safety in the work place (16%)

7. Poor toilet etiquette (16%)

8. People not turning up for meetings on time or at all (16%)

9. People not tidying up after themselves in the kitchen (15%)

10.Too cold/cold air conditioning (15%).

The most annoying jargon:

1. Thinking outside the box (21%)

2. Let’s touch base (20%)

3. Blue sky thinking (19%)

4. Blamestorming (16%) (sitting down and working out whose fault something is)

5. Drill down to a more granular level (15%) (look into something in more detail)

6. Let’s not throw pies in the dark (15%) (we need a plan rather than a haphazard approach)

7. I’ve got that on my radar (13%)

8. Push the envelope (12%)

9. Bring your A-game (11%) (be ready to do something to best of ability)

10. Get all your ducks in a row (11%).

So, workers find safety annoying? Turnabout is fair play.

As a safety pro, what habits do you find most annoying about workers? Let us know in the Comments Box below. We’ll tabulate your thoughts and feature them in a future post.

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  1. The most annoying thing about workers for me are the ones who say “I’ve been doing that this way for 20 years and have never gotten hurt, why do you want me to change now?” To which I shake my head and walk away… kidding! I explain how lucky s/he is that they haven’t got hurt, that I care, and their methods are ticking time bombs.

  2. I actually have two pet peeves that annoy me about workers – 1) those who throw trash in clearly marked recycling containers, and 2)those who attempt to pawn off their work onto others and then take credit for doing it themselves in meetings.

  3. TargetDriver says:

    No problem…have them fill out this form:

    Deviation Under Modified Basis—Agreement Support Sheet
    (DUMB-ASS Certificate)
    I understand that there are identified rules and procedures in place but I cannot accomplish the task on the basis of those rules. I am applying for this Dumb-Ass certificate so I can get an exemption to perform (name task) _________________________without following the following safety procedures.
    (Please sharpen your crayon before you fill this out.)
    The reason that I want the Dumb-Ass exemption is (check all that apply):

  4. When some one tries to make an inherently unrelated situation a safety issue, like working on a Saturday. But yes, “doing it this way for 20 years” is like fingers on a chalk board.

  5. Most annoying: BLAMERS & LAZY!
    People that blame everything on someone else or the world and forget to look in the mirror and people that constantly need a swift kick to keep going; especially employees in leadership roles that set the examples!

  6. Safety Salamander says:

    yep jason…
    same goes with wornout, damaged or just plain dangerous equipment such as lift slings or mushroomed chisels… “i’ve been using this since i started 30 years ago”.

    ..or some other favorites…
    “we never documented these chemicals before”
    “you just want to take my stuff”
    “you don’t care if i get anything done”

    … and from my new boss of 6 months… my favorite.. [best sarcastic boss voice] “we don’t do that at my other place… i’ll call one of my guys (a former co-worker from the out of buisiness company he worked at for two years) and see what we really should be doing…. yep, we don’t do it like this at my other place….” (after showing him the law in my osha cfr 1910).

  7. People that wear their safety glasses on top of their head.

  8. Supervisors who walk right past obvious safety violations such as no safety glasses and contractors with no fall protection.

  9. My top annoyance is people who say they don’t have time for safety. The time they spend complaining could be better spent following the company’s safety policies without any loss in production. How much work will they get done when the next short cut lands them in the hospital?

  10. We are safety to death…go figure!!!

  11. Safety cost to much!!!

  12. If we didnt have to be so safe we could have been done already!!!

  13. Walterene says:

    We’ve had to make Safety (Risk Management) as part of employee’s Quarterly Evaluations. We’ve also incorporated Behavior choices in this category. Now, an employee can be written up for violating or ignoring basic safety rules. We use a progressive discipline system: Written Up Verbal Warning / Written Up Note to File / Written Up Days off without pay.

    After many failed attempts to hold Safety Trainings, I now go to a Monthly Managers’ Meeting and Hold a Mini Training and then send a packet with Tests and a Special Sign-InSheet with them and they in turn must present the training to their employees, have them sign off on it that each one heard it and send it back to HR.

  14. Since most of us are denizens of “cubeland”, the are particularly annoying (as were the original ten)

    Playing voicemail on the already evil speaker phone.

    Holding impromptu meetings just outside your cube or while leaning on the administrative assistant’s counter


    We should meet “offline”

    Put that item in the “parking lot”

  15. Gary Wise says:

    While I appreciate the improvements in workplace safety, some of the efforts to make work safer can in fact be “annoying” and insulting. Safety measures that are trivial or childish tend to deteriorate our enthusiasm for safety and distract us from dealing with issues that might have real potential for bodily harm. A workplace that grinds the points off scissors, bans box cutters, and confiscates paper cutters feels like we’ve all been sentenced back to kindergarten. If we sound the alarm over everthing, it just becomes background noise.

  16. Robert Zack says:

    Annoying questions – Anything that starts with asking the safety professional “Why”
    Phrase – “There’s no other way to do it”
    “I’m in a hurry” While taking 5-10 minutes explaining how busy they are.
    “I ain’t got time” with an inference re: to do what is right.
    Behavior that strives to “make mistakes as fast as we can”

  17. I find that managers that require personnel to attend safety meetings and then do not do so themselves undermine the concept that safety is important. If they can not make time to attend, why should their reports. I am fairly certain that the managers expect their people to get all of their other tasks done on time plus devote some time to attending safety meetings. If a manager can not be bothered by devoting some time to attend, it becomes very apparent to their staff that it is not really all that important in the grand scheme of things. If people are complaining that there is too much emphasis on safety, what it tells me that the managers are giving it lip service, but not walking the talk.

  18. I think you are asking the wrong question. The question should be more like “Why do employees consider safety programs annoying and what do we need to do as H&S people to fix that problem?”

  19. When the general contractor hounds on the sub -contractors for safety but allows there equipment and operators to run the job site in an unsafe manner, causing the most serious and unforgiven act a fatality. Safety is a must!


  21. I always think it is interesting when I receive the response “Safety, Safety, Safety, all we talk about everyday is safety and we never have any accidents around here……………
    They failed to realize that the consistant message is having an impact on behaviors and attitudes for many in the workforce.

  22. I’d have to say the supervisors and employees that anything safety related is the safety staff’s job and not thier responsibility.

  23. New Safety Girl says:

    “We never had all of this safety sh** before”—from the guy that is missing part of his thumb-it was
    ripped off by a drill press
    “They are just doing this to piss us off.”
    “Why can’t they (OSHA) just keep their nose out of our business?”
    “It only takes one person if I tape the buttons down.”—while using a press brake to shear metal

    There are so many more, but not enough time to list them all.

  24. I find it annoying that employees seem disinterested in safety. I think this relates to a bigger concern: not taking responsibilty for your own actions and environment.
    I dislike the following office jargon: “transparency within our organization”.
    Some people prefer not to know and use this as an excuse that they were out of the loop.

  25. Great article, how is this supposed to help with my safety communication? Oh yeah it’s from across the pond how relevant. Why do people continue to look across the pond to see what the 3rd world is doing? A bunch of has-beens desperately trying to keep a grip on the world as it evolves and moves forward. How about something from workers in the US? You know, us, U.S. here in America.
    Also this article tries to interpret how health and safety actually was understood by the participants with guess after guess. Another relevant and useful points.
    Fred what are you thinking? Not sure why or how this article even got published?

  26. “Yah, yah, I don’t need to follow the rules. I know what I am doing.” Followed later by “I hurt myself. I need to go to the doctor NOW.”

    “It happened a month ago but I thought it would quite hurting, so it I didn’t tell anyone.”

  27. Similar to the “we’ve been doing it this way forever…” is the comment “I’ve got 20 years of experience at this: don’t tell me how to do my job.” My response is “No, you have ONE year of experience TWENTY times: you haven’t learned anything new in 19 years.”

    The other hot button is “Safety is just common sense”. Yeh, if you’ve committed to memory and understand the estimated 32,000 pages of regulations and requirements that apply to safety in the workplace, then the rest is just common sense.

  28. Older employees resistant to change and firmly rooted in a belief that just because they have avoided injury in the past they can ignore an existing hazard or safety procedure, writing the hazard mitigation off as unnecessary and tedious.

  29. Tom Campbell says:

    TargetDriver – Would you post the rest of the DUMB-A** Certificate? I could use a whole bunch of them!

  30. This comes right out of the our childhood playbook. “They are not doing it so why should I?” I am sure everyone remembers their parents response to this old question.

  31. Nobody wants safety untill someone gets hurt or dies, then it’s the Safety Department that gets to answer to OSHA and the Insurance company. It’s always the Safety Manager/Coordinator that is responsable for fixing all safety issues without upper management support or a budget to do it with.

  32. SafetyGoon says:

    I agree with Susan – those few employees who just refuse to get on board with the company’s “safety culture.” In response to being asked to perform the “hands-on” portion of a training session as an “expert” on the task, an employee once responded to me, “Safety isn’t my job – that’s why they hired you. If you hand your paycheck over I’ll do it.” After a somewhat lengthy discussion on safety being a part of everyone’s job, the employee still refused to accept safety as a part of his job without a raise. Talk about annoying.

  33. Ray Riley says:

    “It’s not my job”. I can’t stand to hear this from anyone. It may not be that persons responsibility but when you represent a company by working for them, it’s somebody’s job.

    When I hear it from a worker about safety, they get my sermon on how safety is everyones responsibility on the job and off. Sitting at home, driving, working or anytime, anywhere.

  34. EJ Russell says:

    My biggest pet peev is when I order an item for safety purposes and the purchasing department will not order it using the grant money we received to buy it because they want to hold on to that money to collect the interest on it then they lose the order form and order the wrong thing or a cheeaper less effective one. If you have a problem with it they say “it was a better deal”… its still not the right thing and will not work for what we need to do.

  35. “Safety is # 1” as they walk away with their safety glasses on top of their head….
    “We’ve always done it that way”… I could spit everytime I hear that.
    “I’m the engineer, I get the thing to run, you’re the safety lady, you figure out how to do it safely.”….{scream (inside)}.

    Opening line to a meeting “Let’s get this party started”. If it was a party there’d be more beer and hot people in the room.

  36. Gary Hulse says:

    As safety professionals, we have all heard the excuses for not performing job duties in a safe manner. All of the excuses above annoy the hell out of me for sure. Heard them for almost 20 years and they never change. But, the # 1 annoying thing that really gets under my skin is when upper management that will NOT get serious about safety. If the employees that are actually performing the hands on task on a daily basis see that upper management isn’t serious about safety, then their attitude is just this: “If they don’t care, why should I” As in any leadership role, you must lead by example if you want real results…… ESPECIALLY when it comes to keeping people safe.

    Theres an old saying thats been around for awhile that is directed toward the safety professional: “If your the most popular person at the Christmas party, you’re not doing your job”. I like to think that I am a nice guy but I also understand that I have a job to do and I take employee safety very serious and I do make others mad at me when I insist they do things the “SAFE WAY”. My response??? “I would rather have you mad at me than to have you dead”. 99% of the time when I say this phrase in a safety meeting, you can hear a pin drop.

  37. I have to agree with the “It’s not my job.” comment. That drives me nuts. Safety is everyone’s job.

    Also “Where does it say I have to …?” is really annoying.

    People get annoyed when there rediculous safety policies or meetings about common sense things. It’s because some idiot did something stupid and then wanted to see it in writing that they weren’t supposed to do that. Annoying. That’s why you got the “don’t run with scissors” (or whatever) email.

  38. TEXASBIGFOOT says:

    Mine are;
    1) during a Safety Tour hearing, “That wouldn’t be in the isle for someone to trip over if we didn’t have to particate in this Safety Tour during our clean up time.” Duh! My answer is, “Why was it put there in the first place?”
    2) Continued blocking of Safety Showers, Exits, Fire Extingishers, etc. I mean, come on, are people really that dump!?! Is it really that hard to pay attention to what you are doing. JEEEEZZZZ!! Help me to understand!!!!

  39. To steve, you wrote “Fred, what are you thinking, I dont know why or how this article even got published”
    I think you are a good example of why and how. The comments from the”has beens” here get it. The most annoying comments in the office are from people that just don’t get it.
    Hateful comments need a check up from the neck up.

  40. Safety Greg says:

    I get irritated at the workers that think the “Safety Man” is a butthead and he is full of BS. Then when someone gets injured high in a structure and needs to be rescued; who do they holler for on the radio…”Safety We have a man down in the pipe rack”. Then we put our own personal safety on the line to save their lives. Sometimes it’s a frustrating job, but it’s worth it. I just keep on preachin’ to the force.

  41. SafetyMan says:

    1 – Safety glasses worn on top of the head beats them all.
    2 – PIV operators that drive too fast
    3 – Forklift operators that don’t wear their seat belts
    4 – Trash cans or boxes set in front of fire extinguishers, alarm pull stations, electrical panels and fire exits.
    5 – Employees that think safety training is a waste of time because it’s all common sense stuff, then go out and commit 1-4 above.

  42. Bill West says:

    All of the above, plus, the guys who tell you what you want to hear then do what they want to do. Grrrrrrrr.

  43. Same as Tom Campbell – TargetDriver – Please post the rest of the the DUMBA** Certificate. I need a lot of them too!

  44. Hey… I have filled out a whole lot of them DUMB-ASS certificates… hmmm… wait a minute… dumbass… hey… DUMBASS! HEY!!!

  45. New Safety Girl says:

    I love the “DUMB-ASS Certificate” by TargetDriver, and came up with some for the “Reason that I want this certificate (check all that apply)”. I read through everyone’s posts, and put some of them in there. If you would like them, here they are:
    _____ Too lazy.
    _____Don’t want all of my fingers/toes any more.
    _____It’s quicker to go to the hospital than to do it right.
    _____ Have been doing it the same way for 20 years.
    _____ Want to see if I really am invincible.
    _____ Wanted to see if electrocution actually makes your hair stand on end.
    _____ The other guys/gals do it this way.
    _____ The boss didn’t say I had to do it.
    _____ I know what I’m doing.
    _____ It’s not my job.

    I hope TargetDriver will post the right ones, but in the meantime, I’m printing a big one of these to hang in the break room where I work.

  46. Tom Campbell says:

    Thanks, New Safety Girl. I found some others on the web. Any others out there? Here is what I found:
    Rules are for fools.
    I don’t have time.
    PPE is uncomfortable, man. It’s hot. Makes it hard for me to do my job.
    Machine guards and safety rules slow down my production.
    Our injuries are not that serious, just lots of little things.
    I won’t get in an accident.
    Those rules don’t apply to me.
    I buy that chemical in bulk and store the extra because I might need more sometime in the future.
    That’s not my stuff. That was there before I got here.
    I have to turn off the fume-hood fan because it is too loud.
    I’ve been doing it this way since you were in diapers!
    I don’t have time for this. Safety is common sense, and my work is much more important.
    The safety policy only applies to other people.
    Gloves just encourage sloppy work; it’s safer to work barehanded so you know when you’ve spilled some material.
    I am willing to die for my work.
    Nothing bad has ever happened before.
    I didn’t work to get this body so I could wear a plastic apron.

  47. I have seen a similar form to the dumbass with a slight difference. The employee must take the form home and have their spouse, children or parents sign off that it is o.k. for them engage in work activities un-safely.

  48. I find it mildly humorous that you can identify people who are actually “safety people” and people who are “just workers” that get to deal with all the regulations imposed by safety professionals. I agree and will argue on the side of safety as long as it is really about safety. However, in my experience, a great many “safety” rules/regulations have only been instituted to keep companies from frivolous lawsuits. Many things that people do today are inherently dangerous. A large portion of that danger is because the machinery isn’t designed for people to operate. It is designed to do a job and the operator have to figure out how to get it done.

    A prime example in my experience is the wearing of hard hats. I agree that hard hats are a good safety precaution. How is a hard hat a good safety precaution for 10,000 lbs of equipment that is being lifted by a crane onto something? Also, in regard to hard hats, when working on Navy ships we often find that we are required “for safety reasons” to wear hard hats. I understand that there can be work going on aroung that can be dangerous and hazardous to those around, but why is it a safety issue when you are walking through the passageways where there isn’t any work going on? Or even better, why is it a safety issue for “contractors” to have PPE on while only passing through an area where the sailors are standing watch and are not required to have PPE on?

    When safety is actually about safety and a hazardous situation, I’m all for it. When it’s about someone personal vendetta or because a company is afraid of a lawsuit because someone is a moron, then IT ISN’T SAFETY.

    Just to put it into perspective, think about the last time someone had to tell you not to put your fingers inside the “business area” of a stapler… Now think of the number of times people have been injured by a stapler… Now think of the number of safety regulations regarding stapler use are in existence… And finally, think about how many “OSHA approved” staplers exist that have some type of safety device built into the stapler.

    Oh, and my most hated phrase would have to be “We..”, as in, “We need to get this done…blah, blah, blah.” When was the last time someone who used the word “we” as a manager really meant that they were going to help with the task?

    One of my irritations at work is typographical errors. Mostly improper use of synonyms. Didn’t we all learn in school that “there” is a place and “their” has to do with a group of people?

    Common sense is an uncommon commodity.

  49. I can understand this. Many people get miffed when it’s mentioned to them to do something “safely”; that includes the safety meetings or safety training that are pretty much de rigeur in workplaces now. How many people have given you a dirty look when you mention to them not to stand on that chair; please get a stool or step ladder to reach that upper shelf? And that’s a trivial example. I feel like banging my head against the wall when one of my guys says “I don’t need to wear my gloves.” when we’re doing valve operations. About all I can say to them is, “Go and get them. It pays the same.”

  50. I see a trend here in the attitude towards safety.

    For anyone here that does the safety training:

    – the first thing OSHA looks at if you are being investigated for a serious accident is your training records and consistency in enforcing the companies safety policies. You have the training records in order and you are pretty much covered. After that you have to show that you are proactive in making the work centers safe by having proper signs posted and identifying any mechanical safety hazards.

    – during training relate personal experiences regarding safety and incidences where someone got hurt. Especially incidents that have occured within your company and point out individuals that the incidents happened too. Bring the training home to the employees. Also bring in some donuts so they have something to eat during training to keep them awake, and you get a better turn out. Don’t worry about repeating incidences every once in awhile because like us, companies experience a pretty good turnover with employees, especially if you utilize temporaries.

    – Company supervisors and managers must be made aware that if someone gets killed THEY stand to go to jail and not the safety manager as long as the safety manager’s records are in order. Just because you hold the title of Safety Manager does not let Supervisors and Managers off the hook, they are ultimitely responsible for the safety of the individuals that work under them and the courts are hold them accountable more and more, we are following the practices held in Europe in regards to safety. If someone dies, someone goes to jail. That someone is the Supervisor or Manager if they can’t prove that due dilligence in enforcing safety policies.

    – Keep in mind that if your records are not in order, you won’t necessarily go to jail but you can be sued separately from the company.

    Remember you can’t fool an OSHA investigator or an OSHA inspector. If you tell them you don’t have anyone written up for a safety violation because everyone conducts themselves safely, all they have to do is look on the floor for forklift skid marks or scratched paint on the forklift and they will know you are full of crap. Especially if they look around and see Bozo with his safety glasses on backwards. Even with safety glasses worn correctly people still get debris in their eyes, especially if they are using a hand held grinder or die grinder, the debris will bounce off your cheek off the inside of the glasses and into your eyes, however the opportunity to get debris is increased if they are not wearing their glasses correctly. Just like seat belts in a car, they sometimes fail but they won’t work at all if you’re not using them.

    If someone gives you grief for warning them about a near miss, then take it up with their supervisors. You have the authority to write up supervisors if they are not enforcing safety. You are not their deputy dog when it comes to safety, you are there to provide the training and identify any safety problems, the supervisors are the deputy dogs and they can’t afford to use you as a scapegoat because that will only land them in jail if someone should get killed.

  51. Too much health and safety as the #6 annoyance??? How can there be too much emphasis on safety? These people must think they are invincible, and nothing can touch them? Do they think that rules/regulation and safety gear or equipment is just made to annoy them? These are the same people who will cry foul when something happens to them. You need to take your own safety into your hands and if you decide against it, it’s no one else’s fault!!!!

  52. I agree with Gary Hulse, I tell employees all the time, I don’t keep extra fingers, eyes or backs in the shop. I want to send you home in the same condition you came to work in. The other thing we do is recognize that employees on the line are the experts at what they do, and they know where the “almost accident, near misses” will occur. We ask the question and recognize they have information, we went from 5 suggestions in a year to 655 in 6 months. I believe it has been proactive against having injuries and they have gone from fix this or that to when you do this task be sure to do this. We don’t limit it to only workplace safety now, but outside the job also. I picked this phrase up from a keynote speaker I recently heard, “It’s a minute in your life or your life in a minute”. When someone gives me an excuse for not following safety policy.

  53. “thats the thing” Should be employees responsibility…yet we never trained them

  54. C. Hall says:

    10. safety glasses on head
    9. safety is common sense
    8. wont ever happen
    7. supervisor in the truck
    6. it was just a quick job…no need for JSA
    5. Airmonitoring??????
    4. reporting just leads to trouble
    3. we’re burning day light
    2. just get it done
    1. uh….isnt that why we have safety people????

  55. Paul Shapiro says:

    I always enjoy having an employee recite a section of the CFR 1910 back to me after I explain that our companysafety policy says you shall do this or that, it never seems to dawn on them that you can exceed the minimum requirements of the CFR, even after you explain it to them . By the way the Dumb Ass Certficate now proudly hangs on my cubical wall for anyone Dumb enough to request it !


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