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Experience is Not Enough (to prevent injury)

Recently while in New York City I took a picture of this banner at a construction site that says, “Experience is not enough, (the yellow arrow points at) Safety equipment can save your life.” I think this says a lot towards answering the question I get from many clients, “Don’t you think a lack of experience in our workforce can lead to more injuries?” My answer, “Maybe, ,maybe not.”


The truth is that many employees who are injured have years of experience, but could have prevented their injury by wearing or using a piece of safety equipment. Most of the time we think of personal protection equipment such as glasses, goggles, ear plugs, etc. as being safety equipment, but safety equipment also comes in the form of seat belts, fall prevention, barricades, etc. Experience can be useful in recognizing what can hurt you, as long as you don’t get complacent towards hazards. That is where safety equipment provides the last line of defense no matter how much experience you have.


Safety equipment is used to reduce the risk of injury by a hazard that can cause injury. All the experience in the world will not keep you from being thrown out of a vehicle, keep you from falling from an elevated work position, or possibly keep you from entering a hazardous area. Personnel with less experience at a worksite may not understand the importance of safety equipment. This is where those with a lot of experience can help. Experience comes from seeing safety equipment working to prevent injuries. Try tapping into your experienced workforce to explain to the less-experienced workers what they have observed when safety equipment prevented an injury. Before your next safety meeting, go to your experienced workers and ask for their help. Give each of them time to think about the situations they have experienced and discuss how safety equipment prevented the injury.


At the safety meeting allow them to share their information. The outcome of engaging your experienced employees will be that you get the best safety information available, they provide a believable testimony to the less experienced, and decreases complacency in the experienced personnel.


This is a way of engaging your employees in creating a safe workplace, which is one of the keys to having a responsible safety management process. You can read more about employee engagement (involvement) in the book, ZERO! by Dr. Deb Potter, PhD.


3 Responses to Experience is Not Enough (to prevent injury)

  • Alan Murfee says:

    Being experienced in your work will not help you stay safe at the work place. It is important to have complete knowledge about ways you can prevent workplace related accidents. Organizing meeting and discussions about safety equipment and their use will help a lot in lowering accidents at the workplace.



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