Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before (Common Safety Clichés)

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before (Common Safety Clichés)

Jill James

Jill James

Chief Safety Officer

Jill James brings an unrivaled perspective on risk, regulation and liability. With 14 years of experience as a Senior OSHA Safety Investigator with the State of Minnesota, and nearly a decade in the private sector as a safety program manager, Jill is a passionate advocate for training ROI.

Here’s a fun conversation starter for any safety professional: “What are your least favorite safety clichés?”

Weeks ago, I asked that same question across several LinkedIn safety groups that I participate in, and the question must’ve struck a nerve with my colleagues out there because the responses were numerous.

Common Safety Clichés & Why They Aren’t Helping

The reason for my inquiry was that after decades in the safety game, I feel like I’ve heard them before, and I’ve grown intolerant of these statements because they erode progressive safety initiatives and dishonor workers who’ve experienced an occupational injury or illness.

They’re flat destructive.

So, I compiled the list of safety clichés and sharing with you here. Take a look and see how many of these clichés you’ve either personally heard or are all too familiar with:

  • “The appearance of safety is more important than actual safety.”
  • “Safety gear makes my job more dangerous.”
  • “Safety starts at the top.”
  • “Management doesn’t care about safety.”
  • “The reason we have a safety person is because our workforce isn’t smart and they injure themselves.”
  • “If you do it right, you’ll be safe.”
  • “We’d like you to do an Environmental Impact Assessment, but there’s no impact from this activity.”
  • Personal Protective Equipment requirements are stupid.”
  • “If people used common sense, we wouldn’t need this safety measure.”
  • “Spending the money on this safety measure isn’t worth it because workers will still find a way to injure themselves.”
  • “Why do we need a risk assessment? If there were any hazards, we wouldn’t perform the job.”
  • “This safety precaution isn’t necessary because the task will only take 2-minutes!”
  • “All this safety stuff is bull$%#@; every safety professional has a different opinion.”
  • “If the workers are communicating effectively, it’s okay for the team to break safety protocol.”
  • “We’ve always done it this way and no one has ever gotten hurt.”
  • “If we can’t get the Safety person to perform the task correctly, how can we expect anyone else to?”
  • “We don’t need safety because we don’t have children working here.”
  • “OSHA is trying to put us out of business.”
  • “That machine doesn’t need guarding because no one ever goes back there.”
  • “We target zero injuries and occupational illnesses.”
  • “Safety is only for the shift meeting.”
  • “Safety is just a wink & a nod.”
  • “We’re too busy for safety.”
  • “Real men don’t need safety.”
  • “Getting it done is more important than safety behaviors.”
  • “If something heavy falls on my foot when wearing steel toed shoes, my foot will be trapped inside.”
  • “You can’t prevent accidents. You can’t predict accidents. They just happen.”
  • “Why spend money/time on employee safety training when turnover is so high.”

Math tells the story. Safety saves lives and money.