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Allow us to debunk some of the usual myths surrounding workplace safety and safety barriers.
Misconceptions about workplace safety can have a significant impact on your business.
Whether you operate a grocery store, an office, or a construction site, you and your employees face potential danger during work shifts. Some are obvious, yet others are easily overlooked.
Whilst different workplaces have different safety challenges, there are basic things that remain fundamentally the same. However, there are principles and protocols that employees tend to get wrong. Some of these are a result of myths and misconceptions about workplace safety.
To ensure your company treats safety as a priority, let us debunk these common misconceptions about workplace health and safety.
MYTH 1: Investing in workplace safety is too expensive and not profitable.
Some business owners believe that safety programs do not provide a return on investment. That is false.
Companies that invest in workplace safety barriers, equipment, and training may reduce unnecessary costs caused by accidents, injury compensation claims, damaged products, government penalties, administrative expenses, and lawsuits. Unsafe work environments tend to cost more to operate leading to problems such as low morale, unhealthy employees, and equipment that may need constant repairing or replacement.
Here are just some of the indirect costs of an unsafe workplace:
- Poor employee attendance
- Low employee performance
- High staff turnover
- Accident investigations
- Loss of business reputation
- Loss of contracts/clients
- Damage to property
Investing money on properly training your employees is a worthwhile decision to make for your company. By helping your operations cut back on preventable accidents, safety programs can save you a lot of money, time, and valuable resources in the long run.
MYTH 2: Accidents will happen, no matter what safety precautions we take.
This is a dangerous mindset. You should be proactive by planning and taking action instead of leaving your employees’ safety to chance.
Accidents often occur when people are in a hurry, not paying attention, or simply being lackadaisical. Therefore, creating a safe work environment requires constant mindfulness, attention to detail, and daily practice.
MYTH 3: Personal protective equipment is enough to protect your employees.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is not your first line of defence. While it can minimise exposure to hazards, PPE won’t prevent accidents from happening.
Protective gear should be used in conjunction with safety systems that include machine guards, safety barriers, access control, and safe working practices.
For example, a fall arrest system can prevent a worker from getting injured or killed, but safety railing can stop the fall even before it happens. Hard hats can also minimise the damage to a worker who is struck by an object. Still, netting on the scaffold can prevent tools or materials from flying around so they do not hit anyone within the vicinity.
You should also provide proper training on how to select the correct PPE and ensure a proper fit. Inspect every set before use and replace it when there is visible damage or signs of wear and tear.
MYTH 4: Workers have the option to wear or not to wear PPE.
Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws around the world are consistent about one thing: that it is the responsibility of the business to ensure the safety and well-being of its employees.
As a business owner, you must ensure that all WHS policies are enforced, including the use of personal protective equipment. You can be liable if an employee gets injured because they were not wearing the proper PPE.
Likewise, employees must understand that safety regulations are there for their own benefit, and choosing not to follow protocol can be dangerous for everyone in the workplace.
MYTH 5: There are no workplace hazards in an office setting.
This is completely false. Every workplace – even an office – is at risk for accidents, injuries, and illnesses. Sedentary work environments may be more vulnerable due to limited or repetitious employee activity, often resulting in health issues.
According to medical experts, people who sit for long periods have a higher risk of experiencing elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, obesity, heart disease, and even cancer.
Moreover, health issues are not the only potential danger in an office setting. Just because you work in an office doesn’t mean you are safe. You may still involved in an accident if you do not take proper precautions.
Injuries and diseases can result in higher health insurance claims and missed workdays. Identifying safety hazards in your workplace helps keep your employees safe and healthy.
MYTH 6: You won’t get injured if you are young and healthy.
No matter what your age or health status, you are not immune from to accidents. It’s only prudent, therefore, to follow safety procedures to prevent injuries.
MYTH 7: We have an excellent safety record so no accident will happen.
An excellent safety record could mean that the systems in place have been working. But you cannot be confident that they will always work or that no accident will happen.
Many workplace injuries and fatalities are first-time offences. It is likely the company had a good safety record before the unfortunate incident.
Workplaces are constantly evolving – new employees get hired, new roles are created, and new equipment is introduced. And along with these are new hazards and risks as well.
This is why regular risk assessment is important. Review current procedures and make sure that your safety programs are still relevant and effective.
MYTH 8: We follow WHS standards so we’re completely safe.
WHS regulations and standards set the minimum requirements for workplace safety. You follow them for compliance and basic protection. This does not mean that you are safe from accidents.
Your safety program should build on basic WHS standards and be reviewed as necessary, for your specific workplace or industry.
Misconceptions on Height Safety
Working at heights is a high-risk activity and a leading cause of serious injury and death in Australian workplaces.
According to Safe Work Australia, from 2003 to 2015, a total of 359 workers died as a result of falling from roofs, ladders, or vehicles. Half of these incidents involved falling from three metre height or less. Moreover, Australian companies lose an average of 93 workdays per year due to falls in the workplace.
Many height-related accidents are preventable with proper training and equipment. Have you identified the fall hazards in your workplace? Do you provide appropriate height safety equipment for your workers?
Here are the three main misconceptions about workplace safety involving heights.
Myth 1: Height safety is solely the employer’s responsibility.
Height safety is everyone’s responsibility – whether you are an employee, foreman, subcontractor, or building owner. According to Safe Work Australia WHS regulations, the following requirements must be met to prevent people from falling to a lower level:
- Ensure that any work involving the risk of a fall is carried out on the ground or solid surface.
- Provide safe means to enter and exit the workplace.
- Install fall a prevention device, work positioning system, and fall arrest system.
Always check and confirm that safety certifications are up-to-date. Make sure that your employees understand their responsibilities while inside the workplace.
Myth 2: Height safety is primarily about preventing falls.
Height safety is not just about preventing people from falling. Your safety procedures must ensure that objects do not fall on workers or bystanders below.
Prepare your employees for any type of emergency. Do they know how to respond if a worker collapses on the job? Do they have first response training on emergency procedures involving heights?
Myth 3: The most important piece of of height safety equipment is the ladder.
The most common misconception when we talk about height safety is a roof, and that piece of equipment is a ladder. But height safety is more than just climbing the proper, functional ladder.
When working at heights, safety planning should include installing temporary or permanent fall prevention systems such as:
- Safety barriers
- Guard rails
- Roof safety mesh
- Roof anchor points
- Elevated work platforms
Myths Surrounding Fire Safety
Research shows that more than 50% of building occupants do not feel confident that they know what to do in case of a fire. Less than 25% can locate their nearest fire extinguisher.
These numbers paint a bleak picture of emergency readiness in Australian workplaces.
One common misconception among owners and managers is that smoke alarms are enough to protect their business.
Although smoke detectors are a necessity in any enclosed space, they cannot prevent or put out fires and should not be the only item in your fire safety plan.
Four things you should know about smoke alarms:
- They alert the workplace when there is smoke, but cannot extinguish the fire
- They tell your employees to evacuate, but do not lead them to the right exits
- They cannot protect those who are unable to escape alone, such as small children or the elderly
- They are not infallible. Smoke alarms can go off even when there is no fire, or fail when there is an actual fire
In addition to smoke alarms, you should equip your workplace with fire barriers, fire sprinklers, fire doors, and fire dampers to create an effective and comprehensive fire safety system.
Fire management should cover the entire facility and not just selected areas. To meet AS3745-2010, you must have written fire and emergency procedures posted across the building.
Misconceptions about Car Park Barriers
If your business facility has a dedicated car park, you should consider installing car park barriers. Unfortunately, many common misconceptions can discourage business owners from investing in these safety systems.
Myth 1: Car park barriers make your building look unsafe.
Some people believe that entry and exit barriers are only required in areas with a high crime rate. This is not true. Car park barriers make people feel safer as restricted access serves as a deterrent to criminals.
Myth 2: Car park barriers are only suitable for large facilities.
Barrier control systems are not only for large facilities. Intercoms, card readers, and other access control systems do not take up a lot of space so they too are suitable for smaller parking areas.
Myth 3: Car park barriers are inconvenient for employees.
Automated gates and doors are straightforward and easy to use. They also provide employees with a safe, secure parking area when working at night. Best of all, barrier control systems can improve employee productivity as they won’t need to check or move their car throughout the day.
Myth 5: Parking barriers can make car parks overcrowded.
Barrier systems can make a car park more appealing, which is why some people fear the possibility of overcrowding. This won’t happen as car park barriers regulate the number of cars entering the facility. They stop entry once the car park has reached its limit.
Myth 6: Parking barrier systems can hamper emergency evacuation.
Since parking barriers tend to slow down a car’s exit, it is a common misconception that they might obstruct evacuation plans during an emergency.
To prevent this from happening, car park hazards are removed to make exiting more efficient. Installers also ensure there is room for emergency service vehicles, should an accident occur in the workplace.
Myth 7: Parking barriers cannot be connected to bollards and traffic systems.
Thanks to modern technology, parking barriers and bollards can be connected to create a more secure car park system. You can also add traffic lights and safety loops to rising bollard systems for increased protection.
Misconceptions about Bollards
A bollard is a short post that is installed on the ground to create a protective perimeter and resist impact forces. They also serve as a visual guide to mark boundaries and manage traffic flow.
Below are some common misconceptions that make business owners hesitant to install bollards in their facilities.
Myth 1: Bollards are expensive.
Bollards can last 10 to 30 years with the right maintenance. Therefore, you can recoup your initial investment over the lifetime of your bollard system.
Myth 2: Bollards have only one purpose.
A bollard is not just a ground post. It has a wide range of applications including parking security, pedestrian safety, and can be a decorative landscape element. This versatile piece of security can be customised for specific areas such as a loading bay, residential driveway, or car dealership. Special automated bollards can be added – such as telescopic bollards – to ensure pedestrian security without affecting day-to-day operations.
Myth 3: Bollards are a workplace eyesore
Just because they are often bright yellow doesn’t mean bollards are only ideal for general industrial applications. Modern bollards can complement the décor of an area. Some homeowners and property managers install bollards with contemporary features to enhance the aesthetic appeal of their property.
Let’s Correct Misunderstandings and Give More Attention to Workplace Safety.
When it comes to workplace safety barriers, trust the Verge team to provide a solution for your environment! We can assist you in finding safety products to create a safer workplace and meet compliance requirements.
Contact Verge Safety Barriers today so we can start discussing your safety program.