Accident Prevention & Safety
Sometimes the Rules Are Wrong: Questioning Common Sense
David Curry, John Meyer and Mary Pappas
The public looks to safety professionals for guidance as experts in risk avoidance and hazard mitigation. This is reasonable as they are ostensibly trained in that area and, thus, in a better position to evaluate the risks inherent in different activities and to assess what can and should be done to alleviate or reduce those risks to an acceptable level. As such, it behooves safety professionals to be aware of not only safety-related heuristics that are presented to the public, but also the research that underlies that guidance to assess the appropriateness of the various safety rules that are promulgated to address potential hazards. In the real world, however, ostensible safety experts often simply accept these rules as representing appropriate, normal or typical behavior based on longevity, common sense or the simple frequency with which they are expressed.