Courage to Challenge the Great TRIFR and LTIFR Delusion
It was Marx (The German Ideology) who said ‘as individuals express their life, so they are’. At the heart of this aphorism is the idea that what is normalized in a culture comprises what the culture is.
One of the things that have become normalized in the culture of safety is the delusion that safety can be measured. What is even more delusional is the idea that ‘attributed’ measures like TRIFR and LTI actually have meaning. Unfortunately, once things are anchored into a culture they are nearly impossible to remove, despite their dangerous by-products. The delusion of ‘measures’ is also sustained by safety academia and texts that anchor such mythology and then defend it. Indeed, to even challenge or question TRIFR or LTI measures is considered sacrilege in the church of safety. I discovered this recently when I spoke at an SIA conference and dared to challenge the safety curriculum in Australia (https://safetyrisk.net/isnt-it-time-we-reformed-the-whs-curriculum/). All I received in return was no questions, not debate and not dialogue but, total denial.
Recently the originator (Tom DeMarco) of the aphorism ‘you can’t control what you can’t measure’ retracted and recanted what he said (https://www.computer.org/cms/ComputingNow/homepage/2009/0709/rW_SO_Viewpoints.pdf ). Finally, after all these years Demarco an engineer, discovered that higher order goals can’t be measured and that his aphorism was a delusion. Not to worry, safety wants to believe it anyway.
We can add to the grand delusion, the continued belief in safety that gives meaning to matrices, pyramids and curves (https://safetyrisk.net/calculators-matrices-and-mumbo-jumbo-risk-assessment/). Of course, none of these are measures anyway.
What is even worse is the fear that overcomes safety people when I suggest these things ought to be challenged. I recently did some training and one of the GMs present agreed totally that TRIFR was a delusion but made it quite clear that she could not speak up about it in her organization. This is exactly how religious dogma works. It no longer matters what is true or what makes sense, one cannot challenge the politics associated with the delusion.
What a sorry state safety has been take too by the mechanistic paradigm that governs the safety industry. How sad that people even use the word ‘profession’ to describe this dumb down activity. How sad that risk aversion has been substituted for learning, that numbers have been substituted for people and that delusion has been substituted for reality.
Interesting that with all business, safety works until it doesn’t. Then once it doesn’t (i.e an incident has occurred) the statistics start moving and people get quite excited. I have a mantra “you don’t see the incidents you prevent” and safety is about preventing incidents but it seems these statistics are produced for the sake of presenting safety statistics.