Why Do We Love Stupid Safety Photos

Why Do We Love Stupid Safety Photos?

In the world of safety management, why do we find it so appealing to watch videos or photos of people committing unsafe acts and doing stupid things at home or work.  We safety management professionals laugh at photos on free sites like www.safetyphoto.co.uk.  Some photos that make us laugh might include:

  • Two haphazardly built scaffolds support a horizontal ladder, and a vertical ladder is added on top of the teetering stack to reach a window.
  • A third world construction worker wearing a piece of sponge rubber on his head as a hard (soft) hat
  • A contractor is cutting a large concrete block in half on top of a skid-loader fork AND not using safety goggles
  • A small sedan drives down the shoulder of a road with eight-foot boards resting horizontally on each back window, the boards extending three feet beyond the width of the car

Does laughing at such photos make us horrible, evil people, or is it naturally in our human makeup to laugh when someone gets hurt?

Neither, actually.  As people, we are exposed to a vast array of knowledge and experiences, all which lead us to develop common sense.  Development of common sense as a skill set naturally occurs within a time frame leading up to adulthood.  Studies have shown that most people develop the common sense necessary to safely conduct themselves in everyday life by the age of 25.  Prices of insurance decrease for 25 year old drivers, car rentals are open 25 year olds, and 25 year old individuals are expected to act with decorum.  So, for anyone over the age of 25 to act without common sense seems a little silly, and any actions in which an adult does not use valid reasoning become laughable.

Therefore, in videos and pictures in which adults do not think through their actions and in which they put themselves and others in danger, the general public and safety officials alike laugh at the thoughtless actions, not because we are evil but because the actions being contemplated are laughably stupid.  Really, who would think to lift a scaffold up with a tractor to gain seven feet rather than build a proper scaffold?  What do they think is going to happen?  Someone is obviously going to get hurt – common sense tells us that.

We, of course, do not want to see individuals get hurt, but the jimmy-rigged set ups inspire laughter all the same.  In spite of all the safety rules and regulations in place because people have been injured before attempting similar shortcuts, some adult (someone who should know better) has decided to bypass the rules and regulations to shave a little time off the clock.  This seems a little ridiculous to us, people with common sense and safety management experience, to risk a life for laziness or to save time, all when safety precautions are free to employees and only take a little time to ensure safety.

So, thankfully, we are not evil and humankind was not created to laugh at the expense of others.  It is our common sense that drives us to laugh at not-so-smart time-shaving ideas that may exist in our very businesses.  Oh, and to make that mental note to discuss such laughable attempts with field managers as examples to watch for in our own employees’ occasional common sense by-pass.

Barry Spud

Barry Spud

Safety Crusader, Zero Harm Zealot, Compliance Controller and Global Pandemic Expert at Everything Safety
Barry Spud
What is a Safety Spud? Lets look at a few more spud head activities in risk and safety: 1. Coming on to site saying there is a safety issue when in fact there’s no such thing, it’s a political issue. 2. ‘Falling apart’ when people make choices that we think are stupid because they won’t do as we ‘tell’ them. Then we put on the angry face and think that overpowering others creates ownership. 3. Putting on the zero harm face, presenting statistics, knowing it has nothing to do with culture, risk or safety. 4. Putting on the superman (hazardman) suit and pretending to be the saviour of everything, this is good spud head cynic stuff. 5. Thinking that everyone else is a spud head except me. 6. Thinking there’s such a thing as ‘common’ sense and using such mythology to blame and label others. 7. Accepting safety policies and processes that dehumanize others. 8. Blaming, ego-seeking, grandstanding and territory protecting behind the mask of safety. 9. Thinking that risk and safety is simple when in fact it is a wicked problem. Denying complexity and putting your spud head in the sand. 10. Continually repeating the nonsense language and discourse of risk aversion that misdirect people about risk, safety, learning and imagination.

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