Don’t Dare Speak the ‘f’ Word
The claim that Zero Vision ‘works’ has more in common with ‘faith healing’ (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-as-faith-healing-2/ ) than critical thinking. Dekker (2017, Zero Vision: enlightenment and new religion. Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14773996.2017.1314070) demonstrates this clearly and asserts that such ‘attributions’ are fundamentally religious and certainly have no empirical basis.
Yet, with the World Congress in Safety spruiking such language (https://safetyrisk.net/no-evidence-for-the-religion-of-zero/) and with many others falling into line through non-commitment (like the ‘agnostic’ SIA), the sheer volume of noise seduces people into the mythology that such ideology actually ‘works’ (whatever that means).
Zero Vision is a religion/ideology as is asserted by most of its proponents. For example, see attached instructions issued by Brisbane City Council.
Yet, as Dekker demonstrates, zero creates cynicism and disengagement if adopted without other accoutrements (Dekker, p. 2) and sets a worldview on numerics. Dekker (p.2) demonstrates that most Zero Vision campaigns are confounded with a host of other initiatives showing that:
‘These same accoutrements needed for the success of Zero Vision, however, eradicate the empirical evidence of its efficacy – and even its necessity’.
Even if there were a shift in numbers of LTIs or TRIFR rates in Zero Vision organisations, these numerics in themselves are not a demonstration of the existence of safety or of a risk intelligent culture. Injury rate variation can be attributed to anything or no reason at all or simply luck.
Of course zero ideology can never ‘work’ for one simple reason – fallibility. Despite all the noise, all the assertions, all the mantras, hymns of praise and all the counting, you will never hear anyone in any zero religion talk about what to do with the naughty word ‘fallibility’.
No-one in the zero religion speaks the word ‘fallible’. When it comes to fallibility, every zero zealot knows to be silent. No-one in the zero religion must speak the ‘f’ word. The ‘f’ word is the new swear word in the religion of zero. Just imagine the following statements: ‘I believe fallible people can achieve perfection’ or ‘I believe fallible people can never make mistakes’. You won’t hear this combination of words ever in the zero religion.
The idea that one day humans will be infallible, that perfection is achievable:
or that utopia will arrive through the elimination of all risk is of course the ultimate delusion.