Common Sense is not Common

How many times do you hear (or say) what’s happened to Common Sense, why don’t people have Common Sense?

This, unfortunately, is the only thing common about common sense: It isn’t common. Here I will try to provide an insight into how this is the case.
When do you most commonly exhort your mantra about Common Sense? Usually when you see someone doing something you consider to be “stupid” and “obvious” – the key phrase I want you to concentrate on here is: “you consider”.

As an example, I live in a semi-rural location, whilst not quite “country” we do have a large proportion of roads without footpaths – or for our American friends: sidewalks. I also walk every morning in a valiant attempt to thwart the onset of aging and horizontal growth.

On these walks on roads without footpaths, I often see people walking on the road on the same side as the traffic – that is, they walk on the road in the same direction as the car traffic. Now, to myself this is a plain lack of common sense!

Surely they should know to always walk towards oncoming traffic so that they can see that you can see them… I know I learnt this as a kid! Were they away on the day this was taught? Are they simple? Do they lack Common Sense?

Now in my old-man rant of incredulity, I need you to concentrate on two words used: “learnt” and “taught”. It is these two words I am sure we have all used when decrying peoples lack of common sense that the key lives: We are all taught common sense! Common Sense is a skill or awareness that we have learned – albeit sometime in the dim dark recesses of our individual pasts, but again, something we have been taught.

Let’s turn this around: for most Australians those funny red and yellow flags found on beaches mean this is the safe swimming zone and we have had rammed down our collective youthful minds to “swim between the flags”. Makes sense, doesn’t it – common sense you might say.

Now reach into your inner self as you watch shows like Bondi Rescue where our international visitors ignore those flags and swim into rips, get carried out towards New Zealand as we sit on our couches passing judgement on these hapless tourists and their lack of common sense in not seeing the flags and not swimming in between them! I am sure most of us have said at least once: “Don’t these silly people have any common sense – damned lucky for them our brave lifeguards were there” – sound familiar?

Let us now board an international flight to France, to the beaches of the Cote d’Azur as we live out our fantasies brought on by grainy European movies of yore. On this beach we see a Yellow triangular flag… to our Australian mindset this is confusing – firstly its triangular, secondly only one colour, but you’re a strong swimmer, there seem to be a lot of people on the beach and it’s a sunny day.

As you casually saunter towards the water you notice a gallic film crew with smirks on their faces following you – you think to yourself “ah, that time in the gym and fake-tan booth has paid off”. What you don’t realise is that “common sense” for our French cousins tells them that the beach is polluted and that swimming in this water may provide us a more permanent fake-tan. Luckily the lads from Biarritz Rescue stop you short of a chemical breakdown and in a few months a family in Nice will be sitting on their couch watching the TV saying: “Don’t these silly people have any common sense – damned lucky for them our brave lifeguards were there”.
Yes, gentle reader, Common Sense isn’t innate, its learned intelligence and the only way Common Sense becomes common is that we have had a common learning.

Now turn your thoughts to the “nanny state” brought on by Governments fearfulness of Workplace Safety and their needing of us to inform and teach our staff basic common-sense things that will stop them killing or injuring themselves, tut…. Tut indeed!

I mean, nobody in their right mind would weld using newspaper as a facemask or wearing open-toed sandals, would they? Surely not, I mean its just common sense!

In case you’ve missed it, Common Sense is a misnomer, common sense is the baseline of what you know and are aware of. The only way you have the “Common” sense is because at some time you have learned this to be true – why would we assume our staff are any different?

At the very least we need to set a baseline of knowledge so that our Common Sense can become just that: Common. Never mind the fact that our staff will understand without question what is expected of them from a safety perspective, but as an added bonus we will have fulfilled our legal responsibility to train and inform our staff.

Here is where the problem starts: we aren’t trainers, nor are we safety experts, we build things, we provide a service, we ply our trade, but now we have to author training programmes and policy documents to teach common sense… where do I find the time and requisite knowledge to perform this “non-core” task?

Let’s look at the pros and cons of providing these programmes and policies into your workplace:

PRO: You empower your employees with processes to ensure their safety in your workplace and in doing so you get to sleep soundly at night.
CON: There would be nothing more horrific than feeling the weight of the death or permanent disability of your staff member that could have been avoided with a simple common sense process that could have saved their life.
PRO: You get satisfaction that you have ticked all the boxes and will pass any Workcover inspection with flying colours.
CON: While giving the regulatory bodies the proverbial finger does feel good, you could find yourself facing a massive fine or even having your business closed permanently.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could provide your staff with all this knowledge, be able to track their understanding and be able to show you have complied with your legal requirements?

Our research showed that the biggest issue for most business owners is the time it takes to create these processes and policies.

That led us to develop revolutionary software that will gives you the ability to create programmes and policies that are applicable to YOUR business by taking 15 minutes and 5 steps.

Simple. Common. Sense.

For more information or a complimentary demonstration, please give me a call on (02) 9011 8100

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