In the US these days more and more laws are becoming suggestions. I watched a corner the other day while walking my dog and I saw a dozen cars roll through the stop sign without stopping. At another location, I waited to see how drivers were reacting to the yellow lights at an intersection. No one was clearing the intersection during the yellow light. In fact, at least one and sometimes two cars were running a red light. In a recent trip to the heartland, I saw only two vehicles driving the speed limit. On that trip, I saw a road sign in Missouri that said 59% of Missouri highway deaths did not wear their seat belt. I could go on for hours outlining how laws and regulations in the US are interpreted as suggestions rather than absolutes.
On a recent visit to a construction site, I saw everyone wearing hard hats. The workers were wearing them even in areas where no danger of overhead work was present for example in a pickup truck while driving. When asked the site safety representative said company policy is that all workers must wear hard hats at all times. What about teaching the workers when and where hard hats are required and holding them accountable for wearing them within those circumstances? Apparently, that is too much work.
When safety standards and laws become suggestions injuries, illnesses, and property damage will occur because employees and people are committing unsafe acts. As safety professionals, we can’t change the world, but we can work to ensure that safety standards are known by company employees and that they are followed. When they are not the employee should be retrained or disciplined.