Safety Humor, Myths and
Tom Wazelle, Jr., Ed.D., CSP
You have to have a sense of
humor to do this job!
• What is a myth?
• A myth is a commonly held belief
with little or no basis in actual fact.
• What is a legend?
• A story that may or may not be based in
fact, that has been passed around as truth,
and has now become a part of our collective
Myth 1: Safety is a program or
• A process is the actions taken to produce goods or
• A program is a group of measures taken to
enhance a process.
• Safety is neither a program nor a process.
• Safety is a level of risk acceptable to management.
• The higher priority safety has, the lower the
Myth 2: Safety Programs do not
work, and are not worth the
• Programs designed to achieve specific
results, such as lock-out/tag-out, work very
• The effectiveness of the program is directly
dependent upon how highly safety is valued
by upper management.
• Every dollar invested in safety returns $3-5
in direct and indirect savings (ASSE, 2004).
Overhead at a Workers’ Comp.
“We can’t afford a safety program, our
workers’ comp costs are too high!”
(Can anyone say, “Heeeeeers your sign!)
Myth 3: Younger, Inexperienced
Workers are the Most Likely to
• In 2010, 76% of fatal accidents involved
workers 35 years of age or older (BLS, 2012).
• Between 2003 and 2010, workers age 55
and older were killed at a rate double that of
workers aged 18-34.
Myth 4: It is possible to achieve
• All processes involve a degree of risk,
therefore accidents will occur.
• Risk means probability. Given enough
events, an accident will occur.
• “Safety is no accident” is not a great slogan.
Safety Myth 5: Accidents Drive
Costs (direct and indirect)
• Claims, not accidents, drive costs.
• Focus on severity, not frequency.
• Investigate all incidents (accidents and
Myth 6: No job is so important
that we can’t take the time to
perform it safely.
• Level of acceptable corporate and personal
risk is in inverse proportion to the decrease
in time from that normally associated with a
• Consequences of not producing/performing
sometimes appear greater than those of
maintaining a lower level of risk.
Car drivers summarize accident
details on insurance forms:
• I was on my way to the doctor with rear end
trouble when my universal joint gave way, causing
me to have an accident.
• The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a
number of times before I hit him.
• I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at
my mother-in-law, and headed over the
• The pedestrian had no idea which way to run, so I
ran over him.
• In an attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone
Myth 7: Our Workers are our
Greatest Assets, Therefore Safety
is Our Highest Priority
• I wish! Production of goods and
services to make a profit is the
• As profits decrease, the level of
acceptable corporate risk increases.
Myth 8: Back belts prevent back
• No, they don’t (NIOSH, 2004).
Myth 9: Incentives (especially
money) tied to accident rates
decrease the frequency of
• No, they don’t, but they do discourage
• Incentives tied to safe work practices work
better at encouraging safe behavior.
Myth 10: Senseless accidents are
caused by stupid employees.
• Not usually. Accidents which appear senseless are
usually caused by fatigue or inattentiveness related
• Excessive overtime
• Physically exhausting labor
• Personal problems
• Drug or alcohol use
• Inadequate training
• Inadequate supervision 17
Myth 11: All employees can be
trained and motivated to work
• Levels of personal acceptable risk varies
from individual to individual.
• Some people are natural risk-takers (thrive
Myth 12: Safety is Common
• Common sense is an uncommon
• People don’t always act in their own
Myth 13: Safety training is the
answer to accident prevention.
• Training is NOT always the appropriate
• Safety training separate from work process
training is ineffective.
• Training should focus on safe work
practices and safe processes.
Myth 14: We are in compliance
with OSHA standards, therefore
we should have no accidents.
• Wrong, safety-breath!
• OSHA standards are the bare MINIMUM
requirements for physical safety.
• Applying OSHA requirements without
addressing safe work processes, behavioral
changes and throwing in a good dose of
COMMON SENSE will NOT yield the
Top 10 list of how you can tell
that your OSHA inspection is
• 10. OSHA sets up temporary housing in
your parking lot.
• 9. The Compliance Officer mutters, “This
is unbelievable” each time he or she enters a
• 8. OSHA calls in a professional film crew
to document conditions in your plant. A
reporter from “60 Minutes” tags along.
• 7. The Compliance Officer insists on
wearing a moon suit with an SCBA, while
your employees work in jeans and tennis
• 6. The congressman you called for help
won’t return your call, but does return your
• 5. One of your employees, in response to
the CSHO’s question, tells the compliance
officer that an “egress” is a large white bird.
• 4. The Compliance Officer asks you a
specific question about a report in your
files, but you haven’t turned over any files.
• 3. The Compliance Officer knows each of
your employees by their first names.
• 2. The Compliance Officer is a former
employee you fired.
• 1. The Compliance Officer begins
the Closing Conference by saying,
“You have the right to remain
Myth 15: The safety director has
the most influence over safety
• In order of scope of influence, these people
have the greatest effect on the overall safety
1. Upper management.
2. First-line supervisors.
3. Individual workers.
4. Safety Director
OSHA has determined that the maximum safe
load capacity of my butt is two (2) people unless
I install hand rails or safety straps.
As you are 6th in line to ride my butt today,
please take a number and wait your turn.
Safety Professionals get
• Q. When does a person decide to become a safety
• A. When he realizes he doesn’t have the charisma
to be an undertaker.
• Q. What do safety guys use for birth control?
• A. Their personalities.
• Q. How can you tell an extroverted safety
• A. When he talks to you, he looks at your
shoes instead of his own.
• Q. Why did the safety guys cross the road?
• A. Because they looked in the file and
that’s what they did last year.
• Q. How do you drive a safety guy
• A. Tie him to a chair, stand in front of him,
and fold up a road map the wrong way.
You Might Be A Safety Guy If:
• You take a cruise so you can go on a
personal tour of the engine room.
• In college you thought spring break was
• At an air show, you know how fast the
skydivers are falling.
• You can type 70 words per minute and can’t
read your own handwriting.
• You sit backwards on the Disneyland rides
to see how they do the special effects.
• You have saved every power cord from all
your broken appliances.
• You have more friends on the internet than
in real life.
• You know what http:// stands for.
• Your spouse doesn’t have the foggiest idea
what you do at work.
Things you wish you could say at
• Ahhh…I see the Stupid Fairy has visited us
• How about never? Is never good for you?
• I’ll try being nicer if you’ll try being
• I don’t work here. I’m a consultant.
• What am I, flypaper for freaks?
• Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties
are largely ceremonial.
• And your crybaby whiny-butt opinion
• This isn’t an office. It’s Hell with
• Errors have been made-others will be
• Can I trade this job for what’s behind door
• Too many freaks, not enough circuses!
• If I throw a stick, will you leave?
• Thank you. We’re all refreshed and
challenged by your unique point of view.
• It sounds like English, but I can’t
understand a word you’re saying.
• I only come here to spread hate and
And my all-time personal
• Ahhh! Chaos, disorder and
My work here is done!