You have to hand it to Safety, whilst some claim there is no safety culture, Safety parades its culture proudly for all to see. Take this recent front page of SHP Online: “I’m not a psychologist but I’m not an asbestos management consultant either.” Sue Parker-Tantush on reframing wellbeing.
Well, here it is: If I need a brain surgeon; I know, I’ll consult a safety advisor. If I need a lawyer, I know, I’ll consult a safety advisor. If I need a counsellor; I know, I’ll consult a safety advisor. If I need an Educator, I know, I’ll consult a safety advisor.
This is the nonsense logic behind safety thinking regarding Psychosocial health. Just read this piece and look at what it asserts. Poor olde Safety, gifted by Safety to do all things that it’s not qualified nor experienced to do.
There is no curriculum, experience or expertise in safety to equip anyone to take on the complex task of counselling and engaging with people with mental health issues or in Psychosocial health.
It is simply fraudulent to think that Safety can do what professionals do in Psychosocial health, because they know how to talk at people.
Such an approach to Psychosocial health is not just foolish and arrogant but unprofessional and dangerous. A sure recipe for harm.
This is why safety is NOT a profession (https://safetyrisk.net/not-a-professions-bootlace/ ). Professionals understand their limits in the face of other professions.
What this article affirms is the dismissal of the professions and their expertise, knowledge and skill, and simply endorses more safety ignorance, simplistic nonsense and arrogance.
Saying the word ‘professional’ a thousand times doesn’t make one professional.
Can you just imagine Safety being that person to respond to your suicide ideation? Ah, zero harm. You couldn’t make this s&#t up.
Can you just imagine when something goes wrong NOT bringing in a competent and qualified lawyer but asking the safety advisor to represent you in court? Why, they have a diploma in safety regulations!!! They can talk at people.
This is the insane logic of this article, on full parade.
From all my experience in 20 years in the safety industry I have never met one safety person who can listen and observe at the kind of level and sophistication of a professional. Knowing how to open your mouth and speak is NOT expertise in counselling or psychosocial care. But we all know the reality, Safety is an industry of telling, NOT Listening. Safety has no professional ethic of care and helping indeed, it never talks about either. Even in the many publications on Psychosocial health there is little discussion on care and helping. Similarly, you will find nowhere across the globe in safety, an ethic of personhood or risk. The foundation for being professional.
One of the first signs of professionalism is respecting and trusting other professionals. This article proposes the opposite. This is why Safety is NOT professional.
In this article in SHP online, poor olde Safety confuses talking with professional helping for Psychosocial need. Such confusion demonstrates that safety has no idea what Psychosocial health is nor what professionals do in Psychosocial health. This confusion is a cultural indicator of unprofessionalism and ignorance. Any professional in Psychosocial health knows that Psychosocial need is not a ‘hazard’ (https://safetyrisk.net/not-just-another-hazard/;https://safetyrisk.net/the-language-of-hazards-and-psychosocial-mental-health/) and that using such language is an indicator of ignorance and a lack of professionalism.
Psychosocial need cannot be tackled by any Safety Code of Practice, ISO Standard or any other ‘goop’ Safety is currently throwing at this complex problem (https://safetyrisk.net/conversations-about-psychosocial-risk-greg-smith-dr-craig-ashhurst-and-dr-rob-long/).
A professional with extensive qualifications in counselling and hours of professional clinical supervision knows the complexities in tacking the challenges of Psychosocial and mental health. Not Safety! I don’t need clinical supervision, I just talk at people.
I know let’s bring in the school teacher to do OHS? Or the social worker? Who would be the first to scream at breaking boundaries and demand expertise? Safety!
This is the kind of arrogance the Safety industry cultivates (another indicator of its mono-disciplinary culture), all declared on the front page of a prominent safety rag. And there are many other cultural indicators of Safety such as is published often by the AIHS. Didn’t you know humans are hazards! (https://www.aihs.org.au/news-and-publications/news/how-address-risk-%E2%80%9Chumans-hazards%E2%80%9D ; https://www.visions.org.au/session/humans-as-hazards-have-we-fully-assessed-the-risks-of-a-changing-world/).
These kinds of publications demonstrate clearly that safety has no interest in Transdisciplinarity or knows how to surrender power to real professions. What this SHP online article does is demonstrate how dangerous and unprofessional safety is.
Everyone knows that Safety is the industry trained to police regulation, demand compliance and count injury. This is the industry that indoctrinates in how to control objects. There is simply no curriculum in the safety world that develops professional skills for listening but and all the training needed to cast judgment and find blame.
SPoR is currently delivering a free workshop on understanding culture and risk (https://safetyrisk.net/free-online-workshops/). One of our homework exercises has been to present a list of safety beliefs as cultural indicators. So, based on this SHP article we have the following indicators on full show:
I’m sure you can think of more.
· The first step to being professional in the space of Psychosocial health is knowing what you don’t know and what you can’t do.
· The second step is knowing what the ISO Standard and Codes of Practice cannot do (https://safetyrisk.net/iso-45003-and-what-it-cannot-do/).
· The thirst step in being professional in Psychosocial health is NOT talking nonsense to people or proposing that Psychosocial need is a ‘hazard’ that can be fixed with controls.
If you want to know what you can do in the space of Psychosocial health, SPoR has a practical, constructive and positive program in Holistic Ergonomics (https://cllr.com.au/product/holistic-ergonomics-unit-6/). You can register to study this program online where you will soon understand your limits and what you can do about it. You will also quickly learn what is: professional listening, observation, helping and care.
Kai Gransee says
Rob, I agree with most of what you said and it addresses a major issue in the safety profession. Would be interested to hear what you think about the development that at least I can see in safety towards a change from compliance, blame, talking, punishing etc. to care, listening, asking questions etc. I attended all of the following courses and this is all about a new approach providing safety professionals with a new and necessary set of skills:
Securus – Coaching for Safety
GYST Consulting – Care Factor Program
Performance Consultants International
Rob Long says
Kai, thanks for your enquiry and yes there are course that are beginning to offer a more humanised approach to safety but these are offered by consulting groups and not part of a core curriculum. Indeed, the global mantra remains zero and the standard safety curriculum does none of this. To your examples:
The first is a 2 day workshop focused on safety, as the purpose of coaching. So with 12 modules over 2 days the session on active listening runs for 30 minutes.
The Gyst program focused on care is again a brief program, focused on brain-centrism, controls and traditional safety. Indeed, if you read Clive’s book there is precious little on the nature of care and nothing on care ethics.
The Third is again a coaching program focused on ‘performance’ and traditional safety in BBS.
So, no real difference in any of your 3 examples.
There is nothing in any of these that shifts the dial much on the indicators I have listed above.
Similarly, in so called ‘safety differently’ that is still focused on traditional safety, systems and performance.
I see nothing offering an alternative method or methodology to traditional safety.
Matt Thorne says
When will Safety start to say ‘No!’ to things that they are patently unqualified to handle. When will their ethics, morals and ‘professionalism’ they flaunt come into play?
When will safety become humble?
Rob Ling says
Matt, the culture is so deeply ingrained after 50 years of engineering and behaviourism there will be no change. The curriculum endorse it. The associations endorse it. The nonsense safety post nominals endorse it. The fear of non-compliance endorse it. The nonsense language of professional endorse it. A lack of an ethic endorses it. A lack of critical thinking endorses it. A fear of questioning endorses it. Zero endorses it.
Workers know, if you need help and care, you don’t approach safety.