Common Sense in Safety
Common sense is what -I- think
others should know.
The ability to discern what is right and
what is wrong.
You don’t get one of these with every
worker…that’s why we train!
• Merriam Webster, common sense is about
exercising "sound and prudent judgment based
on a simple perception of the situation or facts".
This definition suggests that common sense
depends on not over-complicating the situation
(simple), applying experience and general
knowledge to the situation (sound and prudent
judgment), and implicit in this is self-trust that
your considered experience is valid for future
The Truth and Nothing but the Truth
In fact, I think that so-called common sense is a
fallacy that has been foisted on us by our culture of
ideology (any ideology that wants to tell us what
we should think and do) that prefers us to be stupid,
ill informed, and poor decision makers.
Sorry to get a bit political here, but common sense
is even used as an ideological cudgel by
conservatives in which so-called coastal elites lack
common sense and, as a result, are out of touch
with "real workers" who apparently have an
abundance of common sense.
Aaaah!, common sense.
Something everyone thinks
he alone has, but not many
others do. Why is it that
some people have common
sense and others don't? It
sounds common, as though
everybody is supposed to
have it. But too often I hear
people say that "other
people" don't seem to have
any common sense at all. A
dispatcher that I know,
always says that people with
good common sense are
very hard to find.
You never know what's on a persons
Or where they just came
from. Many people have
complications in their lives.
Some people are tolerant
of that fact and some aren't.
So what is common sense
then, if we are all so
different from each other?
What did mom and dad say
• There are things that every human being
should know how to do and not leave to
another person, things that go to the heart of
personal survival, self-knowledge, and long-
term health and safety. In this way, you can
learn common sense through practical
knowledge and application, informing you
accurately when times are harder or when
you must react quickly.
Common sense can be learned and
applied in everyday situations
• Smart people do not always do things in a smart way;
sometimes smart people can do confoundedly, irrational
things like gambling away all their money on the stock
market, or forgetting to take adequate clothing for a back
country hike in the middle of very changeable weather.
• The more we're trained to think one way (by our workplace,
family, culture, etc.), the greater the chance that
sometimes we allow sloppy or auto-pilot thinking to take
the place of common sense. Common sense isn't a one-
stop-destination; it's a way of thinking that needs constant
nourishing and application, and this article provides one
way of looking at developing your common sense a little
As to the purpose of
common sense, it is
basically thinking that
prevents you from making
irrational mistakes or
decisions, a thinking
approach that may open
your eyes to the possibility
that insisting on being
right prevents you from
seeing the bigger picture.
Are you convinced yet
• Understand the ease with which the human mind is
convinced that an idea is right contrary to indicators
clearly demonstrating otherwise. We're human; we're
fallible. And our brains work in certain ways as a
means of providing shortcuts to ensure survival in a
world where being chased by predators could end your
life. In a modern world where caves and saber toothed
tigers are no longer a constant companion, some of
that reactive, split second judging can land us in hot
water as we react instead of reflecting, assume instead
of teasing apart the realities, and follow habit instead
of challenging its continued utility.
Our sense of reality
Maintaining our own sense of
reality out of proportion with
identifiable reality. While
each of us creates a reality
out of our own experiences
and makes sense of our world
through this personal lens, for
the most part, we understand
that our sense of reality is
only a small portion of a much
Add to the group understanding
Start by taking a look at your own emotions, beliefs,
and practices to make sure they're not overriding
your common sense. Test different scenarios in your
mind to try and ascertain the practical
consequences of applying the decision or action the
way you want to.
Consult with others. If your reality is clouding your
judgment too much, reach out and discuss the
situation with others to gain wider appreciation of
their perspectives and ideas..
• Acquaint yourself with your reflective mind. This is
the part of your thinking where true common sense
resides. The part that takes a bit of time out from the
cleverness, the brightness, the importance of
everything rushing at you right now and suggests that
it's time to add a dose of cold water to the excitement.
Reflective intelligence is about being able to stand
back and view the bigger picture so that you
realistically appraise the situation or environment
directly around you rather than forcing yourself to
conform to its suitability or practicing wishful thinking.
Do you have ODI’s
• "Obsessive Do-Itis". This simply means we're
obsessed with doing more all the time instead
of thinking. And while we're running around
frantically being busy all the time, we're not
being productive and we're contributing to a
culture that admires incessantly busy people.
Is this common sense? Hardly. It is about
working harder and longer without taking
time out to reflect.
Ask people why they presume
something to be so.
• Often we are so used to just nodding our head and
swallowing the clichés as culturally ordained that we
forget it's OK to ask someone why they have stated
something to be so.
• For example, if your friend tells you that it's not safe to
go outside at night because strangers exhibit only 1
percent good motives and everyone's a robber, ask
them why they think this. If they can only cite
generalizations, ask them for facts and examples.
Even with the facts and examples, ask them why this
is a problem where you live, where you're going,
when you're in a group, when you're alone, when
you're escorted, etc.
You, the job and the events
• Knowing the limitations of your own body. This
includes knowing which foods wreak havoc with
your body, which foods work for you, knowing
how many hours of sleep you need, and knowing
the type of exercise that benefits your body and
metabolism best; read widely but work out for
yourself what harms and heals your body, as
you're the real expert on this topic. Moreover,
you're no super hero - ignoring bodily injuries is
done at your own peril, such as continuing to
carry heavy loads with an aching back, or refusing
to acknowledge constant pains.
Knowing how to be resourceful.
• Resourcefulness is the art of "making do"; it's
about taking small things and making them go
a long way with a little imagination and elbow
grease. It's about being able to thrive under
difficult conditions and still prosper and not
feel deprived. Resourcefulness is a key part of
using common sense, and again, it's a skill that
liberates you from consuming to live
Think prevention, not disaster
• Knowing how to keep safe. Whether you're in
public or at home, safety is a matter of common
sense. Pushing saucepan handles away from you
on the stove, looking both ways when crossing
the street, walking with a friend or group in dark
areas of the city at night instead of being alone,
etc. All of these are common sense safety actions
that can be planned for and put into action
before anything harmful happens; and doing so
will often avert problems altogether.
Oh that’s why we have safety training
• Common sense is learned through experience.
Your friends and family will be more than
happy to talk about basic dos and don'ts for
any given situation with which they have
familiarity if they know it's about ensuring
your own safety
• Common sense isn't a one-stop-destination;
it's a way of thinking that needs constant
nourishing and application, and this article
provides one way of looking at developing
your common sense a little further.
• If you put in the constant hard yards of thinking things
through carefully for yourself as well as learning all that
you can about the world and other's thoughts about the
world, you're well placed. You don't have to be highly
educated; you do have to be open-minded and curious.
And realize that this is a process, not a destination. You will
have to make the mental effort throughout your life as to
which messages you absorb and which people you allow to
influence your thinking. Even this article is but one source
of guidance on common sense – analyze it, critique its
applicability to your own circumstances, and cherry pick,
discard, or adopt those things that suit you or don't fit with
you. After all, doing so just makes plain common sense
• Popularity does not equate to common sense.
Think about the proverbial lemmings leaping
off the cliff before falling for this one.
“Ancient wisdom can be helpful but it can also
hinder. It all depends on the context of when
the "wisdom" was developed and whether it
stands the test of time or not”.
Sometimes, just sometimes
And common sense isn't real sense, if we define
sense as being sound judgment, because relying
on experience alone doesn't usually offer
enough information to draw reliable conclusions.
Heck, I think common sense is a contradiction in
terms. Real sense can rarely be derived from
experience alone because most people's
experiences are limited.
Safety as a mentor not a baby sitter!
Common sense is not a quality that "you either
have or you don't." It can be developed, most
easily when you're young and your parents and
mentors can help.