Theme – Psychosocial Well-Being and Safety
Despite any interest shown by the safety industry for psychosocial care and mental health, there is simply nothing in the safety curriculum, accreditations or associations that helps prepare people in the safety industry for anything associated with psychosocial well-being. Indeed, it is relatively easy to demonstrate that the safety (zero) industry contributes to the brutalising of persons, creates toxic workplaces and triggers psychosocial illness in what it does.
This can be demonstrated in the many documents (eg. AS/NZS ISO 45003) and codes of practice, processes and accreditations on ‘psychosocial hazards’ that make no mention of many critical factors needed to create safe psychosocial workplaces. These are discussed in this Newsletter.
The many silences of Safety demonstrate that Safety (the Archetype) does not have the capability to help with psychosocial well-being.
However, there is a practical positive alternative found in the Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR). SPoR has a methodology and methods that enable the care and helping of persons.
Is Safety Positioned to Help with Psychosocial Care?
Only the safety industry could be dumb enough to describe any psychosocial condition as a ‘hazard’. The use of this language ‘hazard’ for anything associated with human social and psychological ‘being’ demonstrates that the industry is both unprofessional and incompetent. Only the safety industry could maintain such inappropriate language in the face of all the evidence to the contrary and then at the same time spruik the ideology of zero as its global mantra (https://visionzero.global/videos).
If we are speaking about the situations, context, environment, culture and social being that contributes to the harm of persons then the language of ‘hazards’ should never be used. Such language is mechanistic, immature, mindless, and sets up persons to be brutalised.
Of course, there is no wonder in any of this, from an industry that articulates no ethic and never speaks of moral philosophy. This is the industry that never speaks of caring, helping, learning or ethics as its core work and this is no exception even when it discusses psychosocial risks, conditions and culture.
This is the natural outworking of an industry consumed with engineering and behaviourism, which is why it has come up with the nonsense language of ‘hazards’ associated with psychosocial health.
The language of psychosocial ‘hazards’ now infuses all aspects of discourse in the safety industry whilst at the same time offering nothing in its curriculum, structure, Associations, standards or development to help anyone in safety tackle the problem.
Indeed, the associations support the notion that humans are hazards.
There still remains no interest by Associations or regulators to reform the safety curriculum. I called for such reform over 7 years ago (https://safetyrisk.net/isnt-it-time-we-reformed-the-whs-curriculum/). But knowing Safety, if there was any need for curriculum reform they would probably get an engineer to have a go at it.
The AS/NZS ISO Standard and related codes of practice on ‘psychosocial hazards’ offer no help to safety people to understand psychosocial health. Instead, all these codes do is rename contexts we have known about for many years and simply draw them into the Safety industry as somehow now a safety responsibility. Of course, none of these conditions named as ‘hazards’ are hazards. Similarly, the ‘hazard mindset’ (engineering/behaviourism) is entirely inappropriate for considering the social nature of human relationships. Only safety could be so dumb as to propose that a hierarchy of control (https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/system/files/documents/1911/work-related_psychological_health_and_safety_a_systematic_approach_to_meeting_your_duties.pdf) could be applied to the conditions that lead to psychosocial harm! Of course, an industry consumed with measurement, data and injury rates can never understand the nature of psychosocial health.
Of course, we know all of this is tokenism. It is well known that the engineering/behaviourist approach to safety over the last 50 years has shown no interest in Psychology, Sociology, Social Psychology, Anthropology or Moral Philosophy. The AIHS Body of Knowledge has no interest in persons, care ethics, relational well-being, personhood, moral philosophy or helping.
Without any interest in these disciplines or indeed, a Transdisciplinary approach to tackling risk, the safety industry will continue to brutalise people in the name of good, define safety by physical injury rates and, police and bully people in the name of zero. None of this helps people who are harmed psychologically and socially. Indeed, there is evidence to show that the safety industry itself causes the most harm to people who try to practice safety at work.
All Safety has done with this move (AS/NZS ISO 45003) is given the wrong language to context and conditions of work we have known about for ages and then ensured that no one in the safety industry be educated to do anything about it. Only Safety could create such a moral dilemma of such unprofessional incompetence.
Dr Ashhurst, Greg Smith and I have discussed this problem in a series of videos here: https://vimeo.com/user/57711103/folder/15152059
What a crazy industry, consumed with injury rates, hazards and objects with absolutely no interest in people.
What a mad industry that loves to use the word ‘professional’ but never talks about ethics, persons, care or helping.
What Can be Done?
In SPoR we never offer criticism without practical, positive and constructive alternatives (https://safetyrisk.net/spor-positive-constructive-practical-rational-visual-verbal-social-relational-person-centric-respectful-ethical-and-real/). Here are some positive and constructive things to do about psychosocial health:
1. The first thing people in safety must do is NEVER use the language of ‘hazards’ associated with psychosocial conditions. People (nor their conditions) are NOT hazards! Socialitie is NOT a hazard. The social nature of how people organise are not hazards! Start by seeing the world through the lens of Socialitie.
2. Start to understand that human relations are neither measurable nor controllable.
3. The best way to humanise others is not to use language that dehumanises them! Never repeat the language of ‘hazards’ when speaking of people and how they have been harmed psychologically or socially.
4. The beginning of psychosocial intelligence is caring. If you read anything from Safety it’s always caring about. This is NOT psychosocial. To be psychosocial one must care for. One must be oriented towards subjects not objects. This is why Safety doesn’t articulate an ethic and has no idea of ‘care ethics’. It is also why it doesn’t identify as a ‘caring’ profession.
5. Take an interest and research into Social Psychology, Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology and Counselling. I would recommend to anyone in safety to do a Counselling Diploma (https://www.aipc.net.au/).
6. Read about counselling and helping as the foundation for being professional. A good start would be The Skilled Helper by Gerard Egan or even Counselling for Dummies.
7. Make sure you don’t support structures that harm persons such as FIFO, DIDO and ‘hot desking’. It is pointless to support a structure that creates harm then sit within it calling for action on mental health.
8. Research into leadership, here are good examples: Haslam. ET. Al. (2011). The New Psychology of Leadership, Identity, Influence and Power.
9. Resist and reject Cartesian understanding of persons. Resist brain-centrism.
10. Do not read safety books, engineering or behaviourist safety books.
11. Do not read safety codes of practice and manuals on ‘psychosocial hazards’
12. Understand persons as embodied, social, unconscious, interaffected and intracorporeal.
13. Understand ergonomics holistically (https://cllr.com.au/product/holistic-ergonomics-unit-6/)
14. Research on embodiment and interconnectivity: Durt, et. Al (2017) Embodiment, Enaction, and Culture, Investigating the Constitution of the Shared World
15. Research on trauma particularly: Mate, G., (2022) The Myth of Normal and Van De Kolk (2015) The Body Keeps the Score
16. Frame understanding of work and organising through the lens of Buber’s i-thou and building community
17. Use iCue Engagement and Listening methods to work with people in their organising to tackle risk
18. If you wish to engage Dr Long and Greg Smith for the two day program on legal and social obligations in psychsocial health please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
These are all practical things one can do to develop a new orientation towards others that takes psychosocial need seriously.
SPoR Convention Canberra 18-21 September 2023
Numbers are going well for registrations for the SPoR International Convention to be held in Canberra 18-21 September 2023.
People have already registered from Europe and all over Australia and NZ. You can register here:
or, write to email@example.com for more details.
Two workshops will be held over the 4 days including and optional pre-convention Semiotic day on Sunday 17 September.
The structure and expected outcomes for the workshops are here:
18 September – Mythology and Risk
19 September – Mythology and Semiotics
20 September – Embodiment and Learning
21 September – Embodiment, Leadership and Risk
By the conclusion of the workshops participants will:
• Learn about links between mythology, symbols, models and meaning
This is your chance to meet people from all over the globe, including recent work in India and Europe, implementing SPoR methods in the management of risk and safety.
Keynote presenters will primarily be Dr Robert Long and Dr Craig Ashhurst but also presentations from others about how they are implementing SPoR in their organisations.
If you wish to register for just single days or if you are seeking the early bird 10% discount, contact Dr Long directly: firstname.lastname@example.org
This Convention will be an exciting time of meeting and engaging with others who are implementing the many practical and positive methods of SPoR and how these improve risk, safety, culture and leadership.
All participants will receive a SPoR Convention pack including: manuals, iCue tools, Culture Audit tool, iCue workbook, magnet sets, scenario card packs and video tutorials.
Psychosocial Resilience and Safety Program – Gab Carlton
For those who want to fulfil obligations on Psychosocial Safety and with SPoR in Mind, this one-day program by Gab Carlton is a must.
Gab brings to this program many years of experience in risk and safety, qualifications in Psychology and Social Psychology, consulting, cultural expertise, leadership skills and expertise in Social Resilience. There can be no psychosocial health in an organisation without a Psychosocial strategy. Gab is an expert in coaching leaders to envision a better way of humanising safety at work.
This program covers the many aspects of need discussed in Codes of Practice but with a focus on some critical factors missing from popular models including, a focus on: care, helping, creating community, leadership strategy, understanding persons, ethical practice and practical’positive methods to enhance transparency, listening, engagement, sharing and mutuality, essential for psychosocial organising.
For those interested in a demonstration, lunchtime presentation or quote on the Resiliencing Program, email email@example.com
Knowing Unconscious Forces that Affect Psychosocial Dynamics
The foundation for helping and caring for others is understanding the kind of pressures, forces and energies that shape the social environment. One of the best ways to Tackle this is to understand the many unconscious influences that drive social pressures, energies and dynamics.
It is for this reason that I developed the Mapping Social Influencing Strategies semiotic.
See Figure 1. Mapping Social Influence Strategies. You can find each of these described in Pratkanis (ed.) (2007) The Science of Social Influence, Advances and Future Progress.
Studying social influencing strategies ought to be the beginning for understand what happens to people at work and why Safety brutalises people in the name of good. Indeed, the political reality is also ignored by the Codes of Practice in risk and safety.
In SPoR, we use the Socio-Political Tool to understand why Safety does this.
When the global mantra is zero. When the core business of safety is counting. When the core business of safety is managing hazards. When the focus of safety is on objects. No wonder people are brutalised by Safety
To What Extent Are We Ruled by Unconscious Forces?
This is the title of a recent research paper published by Neuroscience News (https://neurosciencenews.com/subconscious-neural-mechanisms-23023/).
In this research, the important work of Libet (1980) is discussed. We have known for years that there are many invisible social forces that determine decision making. This was all well documented by Norrtranders (1991) The User Illusion. Cutting Consciousness Down to Size. (https://archive.org/details/userillusioncutt00nr).
Yoda serves an an excellent symbol of the nature of the force. An un-measureable energy that operates in the unconscious.
You can read much about this, the following are easy to read and accessible:
Unfortunately, Safety shows no interest in any of this. Confined by its engineering/behaviourist worldview, all of the codes of practice on psychosocial health focus completely on the nature of objects. None of these codes of practice understand anything about the social politics of unconscious social forces. Everything is understood as an engineering/behaviourist problem. Indeed, the codes of practice focus completely on all that doesn’t matter in psychosocial space.
The worldview of Safety is simply incapable to tackling the challenges of psychosocial health simply because it frames the problem through a Safety worldview.
SPoR in India and Europe
Recent trips to India and Europe demonstrate huge global interest in SPoR. In India we undertook workshops in Leadership and the Miprofile diagnostic with one of the worlds largest Shipping companies. The response has been a full roll out of SPoR.
In Europe we undertook 3 workshops across 2 weeks on Culture, Advanced iCue and Semiotics. There was wonderful feedback about all this work and much enthusiasm to practice SPoR methods in each organisation.
You can read about the sucess of the European workshops here: https://safetyrisk.net/day-10-spor-in-europe/
Helpful Books on Psychosocial Risk
• Kath Woodward (2015) Psychosocial Studies An introduction
Delighting in Others’ Downfall: The Neuroscience of Schadenfreude
One of the ways Safety harms people the most is through blaming. This is set up by and industry that has a primary focus on objects and injury, all fostered by the ideology of zero.
The most common language in risk and safety is the language of ‘controls’ and when something is not controlled someone must be blamed. The seduction and addiction of humans to blaming and shame is the topic of recent research published in Neuroscience News https://neurosciencenews.com/schandenfreude-neuroscience-23315/
This is fostered in risk and safety through the language of heroics and the addiction of Safety to language about safety as a supernatural activity. One of the most common myths in risk and safety is the hero myth (https://safetyrisk.net/indiana-jones-and-the-hero-myth-in-safety/).
If you want to see Psychosocial harm in the workplace just look at what Safety does with incident investigations. This is how linear approaches to events foster blame and create blame. Reason’s swiss-cheese and the Bow-Tie model of object centric causation are classic examples of how the safety industry harms people. Neither of these models ‘work’! but their effectiveness is attributed. Reason’s Swiss-cheese and the Bow-Tie model are myths.
Community as a Psychosocial Strategy
Bruhn (2011) in The Sociology of Community Connections discusses the nature of community and how it has been confused and misrepresented in a similar way to how the notion of culture is abused and misrepresented in risk and safety.
The key to understanding community is to participate in it, live it and be it. To live in community we need to be accept the meaning of i-thou (Buber). When it comes to community or culture, we enter the subjectivities of Poetics, all that can’t be measured. This is why safety as a measurement industry has no ability to engage with things that cannot be measured or controlled. This is why Safety finds culture too hard so its best advice is to not talk about it.
When your framework for culture is chemical engineering, this kind of ‘rule’ make sense.
According to Bruhn societies lost their Gemeinschaft long ago. The idea of Gemeinschaft comes from Tonnies (1887) in Harris (ed.) 2001 Communities and Civil Society.
Tönnies favored Gemeinschaft as the ideal type of community with its simple, familialistic, intimate, private way of life where members were bound together by common traditions, rituals and a common language, and villagers experienced a sense of “we-ness.” At the other extreme, Gesellschaft, represented a lifestyle of self-interest, competitiveness, and formal relationships. Tönnies was concerned, as he observed the effects of the Industrial Revolution and rapid urbanization in Europe, that Gemeinschaft would be lost as these social changes altered social relationships and humanity became more complex. He romanticized Gemeinschaft and intellectually resisted its further evolution.
In a similar way Schumacher wrote (2010) Small is Beautiful, Economics as if People Mattered.
The quest for i-thou is also the quest for Gemeinschaft and involves the rejection of measurement, control and the power of i-it. This also means a rejection of Technique (Ellul), symbolised in safety by the ideology of zero.
It is because the safety industry is consumed with measurement, compliance with the Act and Regulation, counting injury rates and Technique, it will never be able to understand i-thou or Gemeinschaft. Both are needed to act for the care and help of persons NOT, the care of and about systems. Similarly, the notion of Resilience Engineering is incapable of the care and helping of persons.
When one reads any of the Codes of Practice about Psychosocial Hazards, everything is anchored to the WHS Act and Regulation. This is why the risk and safety industry is incapable of being professional in care and helping. Even safety books (eg. Lloyd Next Generation Safety Leadership) that seek to raise the issue of care, don’t talk about ‘care ethics’, personhood, community, Socialitie, mythologies. listening or helping.
When safety frames the discourse, the priority on persons disappears. Again, this is why the safety industry is incapable of helping in mental health or psychosocial care. Even when Safety throws about a few slogans to market a different approach, there is no methodology or method to help with caring, helping or person-centric ways of tackling risk.
Even when Safety talks about teams the focus is on mechanics not community.
For those who care about the well-being of people at work and their psychosocial health, an understanding and creation of community is essential for creating a climate and culture of care. A good start in community is to read Vanier, J., (1979) Community and Growth or Block, P., (2008). Community.
The Safety Industry as Anti-Community
Why Have a Perception Puzzle in this Newsletter?
One perceives the world through one’s worldview. One can’t see what one can see (envisioning) without a worldview to ‘help’ it. One’s worldview is one’s filter on how one ‘sees’ the world.
In risk and safety there is no discussion about worldviews, ideology or philosophy. Safety seeks to maintain the myth that it is neutral, objective and unaffected by bias or worldview. It even believes systems are neutral and that there is no ‘affordance’ in design.
There is a strong correlation between physical and psychological perception. A visual perception puzzle serves as an excellent semiotic for why people don’t see or discern persons as central to safety. It is why in traditional safety the curriculum and associations create cultural, ethical and perception blindness.
When you are busy looking for sheep, its hard to see a chicken.
In the puzzle there is a chick, can you see it? If so, circle, scan and post to firstname.lastname@example.org for a prize (WS, HS, GS and 1B3M magnet set). Please include your snail mail address.
New Free Book Download – It Works! A New Approach to Risk and Safety
We are pleased to announce that another book is available for free download.
This book is a unqiue case study in how a global organisation moved away from zero so that safety could improve. The book tells the story of how a global organisation discovered the effectiveness of SPoR methods and how practicing SPoR can change the whole way people tackle risk and safety.
New Free Videos and Podcasts
Panel discussion on SPoR
Mandala Symbolism and Thinking in Risk
The Nature of Culture
Three Part series on Psychosocial Health with Dr Craig Ashhurst, Greg Smith and Dr Robert Long
Eight Part Series by Dr Nippin Anand with Dr Robert Long on Culture
Registrations Open for Free Online Module Following-Leading in Risk
Registrations can now be made for a free online program on Module 4 Following-Leading in Risk, A Humanising Dynamic. You can register by emailing Dr Rob at: email@example.com.
You can read the module outline here: https://cllr.com.au/product/leadership-and-the-social-psychology-of-risk-unit-4/
The course will commence via Zoom on 8 August 2023 at 9am. The program will then run every Tuesday 9am for the next 5 weeks ie. 15, 22, 29 August and 5, 12 September.
This course is open to all and requires no SPoR Prerequisite. Participants will be required to read Dr Ashhurst and Dr Long’s free book Following-Leading in Risk (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/following-leading-risk/), keep a journal, attend Zooms and complete any homework required.
Freebies, Video and Contacts
The Law and Due Diligence