Common Sense in the Industrial Workplace

There is no such thing as common sense in the industrial workplace when you are just starting your career.

Common sense is taken for granted until someone is injured or deliverable product is damaged.

Common sense in the industrial workplace is only achievable through training and direct experience.

For instance, Jeremy is a college graduate and interned at a local manufacturer where he was later hired as a Junior Engineer. On his first day, he was asked to tighten end caps on a block of test items. Jeremy was given a precision torque wrench and was shown how the wrench worked. In addition, he was provided with a demonstration and specification limits for applying the required torque. Unfortunately, Jeremy didn’t realize how quiet the torque wrench “clicks” when it reaches the applicable setting. Jeremy went to work on his assignment and torqued every block until he was finished. The next day, the Project Engineer discovered that many deliverable items in contact with the end caps were damaged beyond repair. Jeremy said he kept applying torque because he could not feel the “click” of the torque wrench when it reached the setting. The Project Engineer blamed Jeremy and shouted “Its common sense!”. However, the Corrective and Preventive Action Board decided the root cause of the problem was “training” because there is no common sense for a new hire unless they bring certain skills with them.

Experience and training are the masters of common sense. When you don’t have common sense about work related activities, accidents and defects happen, which is why you receive extensive training. Unfortunately, every possible scenario cannot be imagined but you are expected to have common sense in the industrial workplace.

When reality runs over you to cause an incident, the next time you experience the same or similar scenario, you’ll know precisely what to do. To another person that has already experienced the same scenario, they will say “Its common sense not to…” and wonder why you didn’t see that coming.

Next time your Boss has to manage an incident with you, consider an affirmative defense for your lack of common sense. Is there a documented work instruction with this scenario in the details? Did I overlook the instruction? If the answer is No to either question, you were not properly trained and should not be expected to have common sense in that area.

Did you know that training is the most common root cause for industrial workplace incidents? If the Company desires common sense in the industrial workplace, they are responsible for providing it through extensive and continuous training. Your affirmative defense for lack of common sense in the industrial workplace is incomplete training and work instructions.