This phrase is used in safety at the workplace to represent desired behaviors and conditions, but do not reflect the reality of what goes on at a job site. Safe is an ideal state in which no risks are present in the work environment. Unfortunately, that state does not exist. Unsafe is most often used by individuals to express the higher probability risks or more potentially severe injuries that may be present. That, too, is an inexact science. Whether we think it is Safe or Unsafe, even risks that usually result in only minor injuries can occasionally result in a fatality. In addition, High-level risks can be taken regularly with no injury in some instances.
The reality is that there is no safe state in the workplace, but there is a safer. The hierarchy of safety controls starts with eliminating risks. That is seldom possible, so we take other steps which do not eliminate but simply attempt to control the risk, such as engineering and administrative controls. These steps reduce the probability of the risk producing an injury and are, considered, safer. The last line of defense in safe vs unsafe is the use of personal protective equipment. Understanding the probability of risks is a crucial step to take mindsets from "safety is not getting hurt" to "safety is minimizing risks." This change in mindset is a foundational step in the journey to safety excellence.
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