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Common Sense vs Health and Safety

Common sense
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Our team often hear the phrase “we don’t do health and safety as, we have common sense here.”

This is all very well and good however everyone’s ‘common sense’ is different depending on their age, level of intelligence, educational background, upbringing and life experience.


Collins Dictionary definition of common sense is:

“Common sense is the natural ability to make good judgements and behave sensibly.”

Think about your team. Can you say you would be confident in every person on your team having a natural ability to make a good judgement and behave in a sensible manner?

Or have you critised a team members opinion or way to complete a task lately?

Have you moaned about the old man who can’t use the tablet? or the young guy who relies on devices to work out equations?


Age, level of intelligence, educational background, upbringing and life experience will all effect an individuals viewpoint and ‘common sense’.

For example:

A 60 year old common sense is very different to a 25 year old common sense. They have grown up in different eras, had different technology available to them and different life events that would effect their life view.

A 25 year old could quickly and easily pick up a new technology device and figure out how it works. They can do this as they have grown up with ever changing technology that has been readily available to them from a young age. Where a 60 year old may struggle with learning how the new device works.

The 60 year old may be able to quickly work out math problems without a calculator or device as they were taught to work out equations manually, unlike the 25 year old, who has always been taught to really on a calculator or other device.

People from different cultures may also have a different view of common sense to people born in New Zealand. Many cultures may not realise in NZ its considered common sense that you bring a plate and your own drinks to a BBQ. In many cultures this would be considered rude.

When you are carrying out a task that has hazards, don’t think that everyone has identified the risks, or knows how to control them. Stop, have a chat, and ensure everyone understands before carrying out work. 5 minutes could save a life.

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