I read with interest the update on the World Congress XXII in Safety set for Toronto for October 2020 . The focus on the publication is prevention, with the Director General stating: ‘Working together we can accelerate progress towards building a global culture of prevention’ (p.6).
Questions: But, what can be prevented? And how can culture and prevention be connected? If prevention is about stopping, then who wants to live under such a stopping culture?
The President states in his foreword ‘With its Vision Zero Campaign, the ISSA responds to the requirements of effective prevention measures in the new world of work and connectivity by offering a flexible concept’.
Questions: How interesting, and how can zero be a flexible concept? When zero is an absolute, and when coupled to the language of prevention what is implied about risk? And how can zero be flexible when it is conceptually the basis for stasis? How can zero can ever be achieved by anyone or anything if we move and live in the real world?
Further the President states; ‘Together with our partners, we want to offer a unique experience at the conference – ranging from cutting edge knowledge in prevention of occupational diseases to the latest technology which helps to predict accidents before they actually happen, based on big data and algorithms’.
Questions: Now we can predict accidents before they happen! That’s a lot of faith in data. I read on and wonder when the document will get to the part about fallible, moral and vulnerable humans? Is technology now the saviour of zero?
One of the strands in the proposed convention is as follows:
‘Training for Vision Zero’
To what extent can training and education serve organizations on the road to Vision Zero? This symposium examines ways responsible organizations develop a positive, caring work culture and safe, healthy and productive workforces through training and education’ (p.17).
Do people not connect any of this discourse and language? How can an ideology driven by an absolute and a focus on counting ever be connected to the idea of caring? As anyone will tell you in safety, the most brutal places to work in are those with zero as their guide.
The denial and faith expressed in this document defies any form of logic or rational thinking. A few questions for consideration:
- If humans are fallible, how can zero ever be a reality?
- If zero is the guiding number what kind of brutalism must be exercised to get to it?
- What has to be hidden in order to lay any claim to zero?
- How can zero be caring?
- If the world is governed by randomness how can zero make sense?
- In what way can zero be motivational or inspirational for mortals?
- So, in what sense can it be understood as visionary?
- How can any sense of ‘hope’ be connected to zero when under fallibility our only future is imperfection?
- If risk is essential for learning and movement and essential for living, how can any of this zero language be connected to people at work?
- The language of learning appears 6 times in the document, how is anyone learn without risk?
So the scene is set for October 2020 for the continuing zero vision for this industry consumed with the language of dumb and denial. I’m sure the Australian peak bodies will be there with bells on claiming that zero is not an issue and just a global by-line to the narrative of safety. Maybe the opening hymn at the convention might be “Bad Moon Rising’.