Does common sense equal safety?

Do low risk environments exist?
1st June 2015
Risk perception and safety
23rd June 2015
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Does common sense equal safety?

I often hear people describe health & safety as just common sense. Indeed our present government also believe this is the case and commissioned lord young to look in to the matter. The result was Lord Young’s review of health and safety entitled Common Sense – Common Safety.

The dictionary defines it has a noun meaning – plain ordinary good judgement; sound practical sense; Synonyms include – good sense, sound judgement, level-headedness, soundness and reasonableness.

Common sense has also been described as a rare form of intelligence which is found only in 1 of every 12000 people.

People with common sense are perceived as reasonable, down to earth, reliable, and practical. But here’s the catch. Common sense is neither common nor sense. There’s not a whole of sound judgement going on these days (though whether it is worse than in the past, I can’t be sure), so it’s not common.

If common sense was really common, then most people wouldn’t make the kinds of decisions they do every day. People wouldn’t purchase stuff they can’t afford, wouldn’t smoke cigarettes or cross the road without using the pelican crossing. How many times have you stood at the crossing without pushing the button?

Green crossing man

Green crossing man

Once on a journey with my family the baby decided it was time to be fed. We stopped at a ‘family friendly’ establishment where we asked if there was some way we could warm up the baby’s bottle. This request was met with a panicked look and the words ‘we are not allowed to do that on health & safety grounds’.

When questioning this approach I was confronted by the manager who could only justify the stance with the words ‘health & safety’, became irate, and asked us to leave the premises. Or how about the lady who fainted in a shop hand was refused a drink of water on health & safety grounds.

Where was the common sense approach in these situation? The requests were not unreasonable. It therefore appears that the very young and the old are not to be considered under the common sense rules.

As a parent and foster career I know how to look after the children in my care and keep them safe; I also try to look after others through my chosen profession. But it is sad to know there are some out there that don’t care or don’t think about others who, through no fault of their own, may not have a fully developed common sense.

Please help us to keep them safe.

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