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.