Safety pros know that even the best safety gear doesn’t prevent worker injuries all by itself. But do workers know that? Do they feel their PPE makes them invincible?
Let’s use a sports analogy. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal asks the question, “Is it time to retire the football helmet?”
The reason behind the suggestion: While helmets reduce the chance of death on the field, they also create a sense of invulnerability that encourages football players to collide more forcefully and more often, according to the article. If they weren’t wearing helmets, they’d be less likely to have head-on collisions with other players.
And research shows that, in the cases of these football players, brain damage isn’t necessarily the result of any one trauma, but the accumulation of thousands of seemingly minor blows to the head.
No one is really suggesting the NFL do away with helmets.
What is being suggested is changing some of the rules of football to make head-on collisions among players less likely.
Now, let’s apply this to workplace safety.
Here’s one example: Will fall protection equipment absolutely prevent a worker’s injury or death if that person is taking too many risks while wearing the equipment? Of course not.
Safety pros know that, but some workers don’t get it. Here’s a message workers have to hear every so often: Safety gear doesn’t make you invincible. Avoiding injury also requires proper use of the PPE, employees sticking to safety rules, not taking unnecessary risks, etc.
One of the most effective ways to counter workers’ thoughts that they’re invincible is to show them how others have been injured at work. Invite someone who suffered a serious — and possibly debilitating — workplace injury to speak at a safety meeting. Ask the person to explain in detail how the injury has affected his or her life — how everyday activities can no longer be taken for granted.
How have you dealt with employees who feel an injury “won’t happen to me”? Let us know in the Comments Box below.