27.03.2023 | Technical Terms

Illusion of safety

As a rule, a safety concept that is insufficient for the onsite requirements provides no safety at all. This is what we call the illusion of safety. And this is a type of Russian roulette, because all participants think that they are safe, when in fact they are not.

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The illusion of safety is easily avoided.

Illusion of safety due to missing or inappropriate fall protection.

The good news: The illusion of safetyà is easily avoided – by carefully planning the appropriate safety solution for the respective situation, and by using a professional, certified fall protection system which in an emergency actually withstands the forces from a fall. 

Unfortunately, in practice it repeatedly happens that servicing and maintenance companies in fall risk areas such as on facades, windows, roofs, etc. do not deploy professional safety solutions which are optimally matched to each other.

However, this can have fatal consequences, because in this situation all participants – the employer as well as the employees – feel safe, even though in reality this is often certainly not the case. This phenomenon is called the illusion of safety – an absolutely unnecessary risk!

But not just temporary and uncertified fall protection systems result in these types of problems – incorrect and unsuitable use of an otherwise optimum safety solution caused by the employees’ ignorance also falls under the category of the illusion of safety. 


The illusion of safety as a risk factor

Safety systems are treacherous if they are not optimally matched to the respective working situation or have been patched together in-house for very different types of applications (e.g. facades, roofs, windows, or for industrial use).

This is because it often takes a real emergency to show whether the protective measures are actually sufficient. A slight lack of attention by the respective employees can then quickly end up in a catastrophe – with significant consequences for the health of those affected, and trouble for the employers. This is how the workplace becomes a type of Russian roulette.

And that certainly need not be the case. For all fall-risk areas which become a workplace because of servicing and cleaning tasks, such as facades, windows, or PV installations on a roof, a thorough-going safety concept is essential, because in almost all cases falls result in severe injuries, and sometimes even in death. 

 Apart from the human suffering, such a scenario can also have severe legal consequences for the employer. If negligence is proven there are even criminal proceedings. In addition, insurance companies can even suspend their services because the operating organisations dealt with the safety aspect only defectively or not at all. Last but not least, the injured employee is naturally off work for an extended period.


Apparent safety leads to a fall from a man.
Apparent safety for a man in an elevated position due to lack of fall protection.

The solution: A professional, certified fall protection system

A solid fall protection system which was defined in the course of a comprehensive safety concept can always prevent accidents which cause severe injuries. This is because the entire safety solution has been tested in advance for its load capacity, and is also optimally adapted to the respective onsite situation.

If all employees who are active in the danger areas have been thoroughly trained, and all protective measures have been implemented correctly, then the illusion of safety can no longer arise on this account. This is why INNOTECH provides a comprehensive training programme. In this, all necessary activities are taught in detail, and the legal aspects are also discussed.


A plan at the start puts an end to the illusion of safety

So that the professional, certified solutions listed above develop their full protective effect, and are thus able to put a stop to the phenomenon of the illusion of safety, comprehensive planning is required. In addition, all relevant parameters must be analysed in order to determine which fall protection system is best suited in the individual case.

These include not only the inspection of the substructure, but also the inclusion of weather conditions onsite, as well as the inclination of roofs. Furthermore, all components of the fall protection system must be installed and documented appropriately and expertly by professionals – and without any gaps.

This is necessary above all for the mandatory annual inspections of the fall protection system, as well as for any servicing and repair tasks. 

But such a plan also includes the exact sequence of all rescue measures in an emergency, in order that casualties can be provided with medical assistance as soon as possible, and that there is no suspension trauma, i.e. the interruption of the blood supply.

Remember: The illusion of safety is not a trivial issue!

In an emergency the consequences can be extremely serious – for all involved. Apart from severe injuries or even fatalities, which create much pain and human suffering for those directly affected and their families, the consequences of a preventable accident can also be considerable for the employers:

  • Injured employee’s absence from work
  • High costs because of machine stoppages or cordoned-off construction sites, etc.
  • Legal consequences in the event of negligence
  • Negative image as a company which does little for the safety of its employees

And so – stay on the safe side, and get rid of the illusion of safety!


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