Machine Safety: The myths of safety cultures

Every organization at some point in time has held a myth about machine safety. Here are six machine safety myths. What’s yours? Leave a comment.


JB Titus, CFSEEvery organization at some point in time has held a myth about machine safety. What’s yours? A company’s safety culture exists just like water. Some are professionally honed with clearly defined goals and responsibilities with open proactive actions and employee empowering engagement. Other cultures are let’s say missing in action and totally ineffective. The full spectrum! Yet, common to them all is that they exist. And, common to them all, they all have experienced safety myths.

   Let’s take a few minutes and brainstorm some of these myths that I’m sure you’ve heard over the years.

1. We haven’t had any accidents for several years so we have a very safe operation.

2. Safety performance is an individual issue, not a company issue.

3. Increasing machine safety is always costly and it reduces production.

4. He is responsible for machine safety throughout our plant.

5. We plan to increase our efforts towards machine safety next year.

6. A return on investment in machine safety……you’ve got to be kidding.

7. Etc.

8. And, I’m sure by now you’ve thought of several more.

  M.D. Cooper established a practical definition of safety culture that can be measured and tracked. The related article (link goes to a PDF), "Safety Culture: A Model for Understanding and Quantifying a Difficult Concept," to learn about his model. “That observable degree of effort by which (all) organizational members direct their attention and actions toward improving safety on a daily basis.” Over the last 40 years, many companies have experienced difficulty trying to follow great advice like Cooper’s to create and/or improve their company’s machine safety culture. However, it’s my opinion that technology has driven a paradigm shift over the past 10 years. Integrated safety surrounds us today.

   So, it’s the New Year and it’s time for a new perspective. I suggest that all you professionals out there set a New Year’s Resolution about a new safety vision for your company - a “2012 Safety Culture Initiative.” In my opinion, it’s timely to create a combined initiative involving the classical thought leader perspectives and the integrated safety solutions. Perhaps, these two concepts combined with your ingenuity will build that improved safety culture casting off those worn safety myths.

   Your comments or suggestion are always welcome so please let us know your thoughts. Submit your ideas, experiences, and challenges on this subject in the comments section below. Click on the following text if you don't see a comments box, then scroll down: Machine Safety – the myths of safety cultures.

Related articles:

How To Integrate Safety

Effective Safety Cultures: Myths, Magic, and Reality, Earl Blair

(PDF) Safety Culture: A Model for Understanding and Quantifying a Difficult Concept

Safety 24/7; Building an Incident-free Culture, G.M. Anderson and Robert L. Lorber, Ph.D.

Unleash the 7C's for World-Class Safety Performance!, David J. Sarkus

Contact: for “Solutions for Machine Safety”.

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