I read this nonsense from the ASSP on ethics and of course, it is laughable (The Professional Ethics of Workplace Safety and Health). It is straight out of the AIHS BoK playbook on tokenism in ethics (https://safetyrisk.net/the-aihs-bok-and-ethics-check-your-gut/).
This is typical of safety tokenism, creating the idea that the industry is taking something seriously, when it is not. The same has occurred in the psychosocial space (https://safetyrisk.net/what-is-psychosocial-safety/). Put these two together and you have a recipe for absolute brutalism in the name of ‘good’. Well done, Safety!
So, with this ASSP article in mind, I thought I’d prepare a guide on how to be tokenistic about ethics in safety.
1. When it comes to ethics in safety, the first thing to ensure is that one never consults an ethicist. This is essential. It is most important to find a safety person with an interest in ethics rather than an ethicist who can comment about safety.
2. One of the most important things in Safety is to only seek a view from one’s own echo chamber (https://safetyrisk.net/researching-within-the-safety-echo-chamber/; https://safetyrisk.net/echo-chambers-and-thinking-about-risk/ ), especially emphasise the word ‘professional’ and that whoever is paraded forward has a collection of meaningless safety post-nominals.
3. Make sure the so called paraded ‘professional’ – so-called ‘expert’, projects an image like ‘the Indiana Jones of Safety’, ‘safety mythologist’ or, some other meaningless ego-centric (https://ehscongress.com/) title like ‘safety philosopher’. And make sure the philosopher has no expertise in philosophy and never declares ego-centrism as unethical.
4. Ensure that the commentator on ethics doesn’t know the difference between moral philosophy and ethics. Then allow them in their commentary to make clear linguistic distinctions between the two.
5. Also, make sure they have no expertise in linguistics and think that words can be made interchangeable to suit their own undeclared ethic (methodology). Of course, without transparency about one’s own bias and ethical position, one is being fundamentally dishonest, which is unethical.
6. Then make sure one doesn’t discuss anything philosophical about ethics but rather focuses on rules, conduct and codes of ethics. Which of course, is not about a methodology of ethics, nor moral philosophy. Never mention ‘an ethic of risk’.
7. Then gloss over critical issues like the dilemma of choice, and select a frame and context that suits one’s undeclared bias ie. the safety fixation on justifying brutalism through a deontological ethic.
8. Never discuss the foundation of ethics, the use and abuse of power. And, make sure you focus on ‘enforceable’ power, but make sure ‘accountability’ only works in one direction (away from the safety lover of power).
9. Never discuss Zero, the founding ideology for justifying brutalism (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/zero-the-great-safety-delusion/).
10. Ensure that all the silences of safety are maintained (https://safetyrisk.net/category/safety-culture-silences/ ). Don’t discuss culture, ideology, hegemony, power, morality, care ethics, helping, fallibility etc. Only mention ‘fallibility’ in passing and ignore any implications of such a principle.
11. When you select your ethical principles make sure you omit the most commonly accepted ethical principles from the caring professions eg. beneficience, nonmaleficence. In this way, one can act like one has selected some kind of objective set of principles when in fact, the subjectivity of one’s deontological ethic (undeclared) is obvious.
12. Make sure you never discuss by-products and trade-offs (https://vimeo.com/876548407), that way one can keep away from any sense of maturity, complexity, wickedity or sophisticated discussion associated with ethics.
13. Talk about ‘ethical decision making’ as if in a cocoon (don’t mention the war). Don’t discuss Vulnerability, Uncertainty, Complexity or Ambiguity (https://safetyrisk.net/kiss-safety-in-a-vuca-world/). And make sure that ethics is paraded as a simplistic activity about policing codes, regulation and conduct.
14. Make sure you have no idea what is at work in an ‘ethical dilemma’.
15. Always present conduct as a legal problem, not a moral problem.
16. Maintain the contradiction of impartiality and subjectivity as if there is no ambiguity or paradox in such.
17. Ensure one has no idea about wisdom and keep to simplistic ‘safety’ favourites about knowing (epistemology). Ignore any knowing outside of rationalism, positivism and STEM.
18. Prepare a seven-step process as if an ethic has been declared. And ensure that the list invokes all one needs for ‘blaming’, ‘policing’ and ‘telling’.
19. Then run a course on ethics that doesn’t discuss ethics but rather teaches how to police codes and regulation (https://store.assp.org/PersonifyEbusiness/Store/Product-Details/productId/243850054). In this way one can add one more meaningless post-nominal to one’s name as if collecting post-nominals represents some sense of knowing.
20. Then of course, follow up with a safety podcast on ethics rather than an ethics podcast on safety. In this way, the echo chamber is complete and no critical thinking can be applied to safety.
One can parade about words like ‘professional’ as if it has meaning when in reality, this discussion about ethics in the ASSP is most unprofessional. Indeed, such discussion is misleading and gives off the delusion that ethics has been discussed.
In this way Safety can maintain the tokenism that ethics has been addressed, when it has not. Well done, Safety!
If you are interested in ethics and wish to study ethics in a positive, constructive, competent and intelligent manner then, you can register here: https://cllr.com.au/product/an-ethic-of-risk-workshop-unit-17-elearning/