Don’t Settle for Good Enough on Safety Matters

Having a lax attitude about safety can prove extremely costly

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People often use the phrase “it’s good enough” when they want to get the job done but it doesn’t have to be perfect or even great. For example, when you’re cooking dinner for the family on a Tuesday evening, good enough is fine, but if you have guests coming to dinner on a Saturday night you want it to be special. 

Maybe you’ve even heard the phrase “it’s good enough for government work.” It’s commonly used to describe a task that doesn’t have to be completed to perfection. Being good enough is fine in many areas of our lives, but when it comes to being safe at work, it’s not the standard you want to work by. In fact, being good enough might be setting yourself up for an injury. When we settle for being good enough in safety, we are allowing ourselves to become complacent and we develop bad habits.

Another issue with having a “good enough” attitude about working safely is it allows us to be easily distracted instead of being focused on the task at hand. Hazards we don’t expect can develop and our awareness level falls off and can put us in harm’s way. 

Being perfect may not always be possible, but when it comes to being safe at work, we should all shoot higher than good enough. The main goal of safety protocols is to always prevent incidents and injuries from happening. When we are working safely we don’t have to worry about getting hurt or damaging property, which is worth the extra effort.

The following are some examples where being good enough falls short of being safe at work.

• Wearing safety glasses that are scratched or too dirty to clearly see. Yes, you have safety glasses on, but having an obstructed view can create hazards of its own.

• Having all the appropriate ergonomic tools at your workstation, yet you sit awkwardly for long periods or slump over in your chair.

• Having the right tool but using it incorrectly.

• Lifting something correctly, but setting it back down incorrectly.

• Driving within the speed limits, but getting distracted by your cellphone.

• Digging the trench correctly, but not using a ladder to get in and out of it.

• Before entering a confined space, you perform atmospheric testing to ensure that the space is safe but fail to monitor the space for potential hazards that could be introduced at some point during the entry.

These examples are just a few of the ways we can do our jobs with some elements of safety involved, but we still leave an opening for an incident or injury. Just being good enough when it comes to workplace safety and your overall health should never be the standard. 

Avoid this mentality by becoming familiar with the safety regulations that are there for your protection and abide by them. Understand that being safe takes effort every time and shortcuts should never be tolerated. Lastly, be willing to ask for help and direction when you are not sure.

About the Author

Ronnie Freeman is safety director for Mount Pleasant Waterworks and Safety Committee chair for the Water Environmental Association of South Carolina.


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