Freedom to Harm, the Gig Economy and Zero
One of the jokes of the zero cult is its selective approach to harm. Injury rates are always calculated against definitions that suit political agendas. The zero cult doesn’t know it has a political agenda because the ideology of zero prizes itself on dumb, no vision. When your ideology is zero it is essential NOT to study Politics, Critical Theory, Cultural Theory or Ethics. No, no, no Transdisciplinarity for safety (https://safetyrisk.net/transdisciplinary-safety/).
When one enters the safety industry one is taught by omission (in curriculum) that safety is politically neutral/objective, this is nonsense. The politics and ethic of counting, numerics, objects and brutalism via zero ensures that the elephant in the room remains unseen. This is how one gets zero vision. Zero has a special way of infecting the industry with the virus of myopia. This is no more obvious than in the attitude of Safety to the gig economy.
The fatalities of online delivery workers is evidence of new slavery, similarly all workers in the ‘gig’ economy come from socioeconomic poverty and disadvantage (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-02-09/exclusive-uber-eats-dede-fredy-riders-deaths-families-speak-out/13118130 ; https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/in-australia-like-rest-of-world-the-gig-economy-is-killing-workers/ ). However, it seems the expendability and exploitation of these workers is not of much interest to Zero.
In the recent Parliamentary enquiry into the gig economy and safety of workers, there was no submission from any of the safety associations. The submission from Safe Work Australia was all about: itself, WHS law, data, compensation and Regulation but nothing of about an ethical or political argument against the gig economy. Safety has this weird idea that WHS carries no political or ethical imperative. If you want to find a political argument against the ‘freedom to harm’ you have to read the Transport Workers Union submission.
One of the best books to read on the nature of neo-liberalism and Laissez Faire economics is: McGarity, T., (2013) Freedom to Harm, The Lasting Legacy of Laissez Faire Revival. Yale University Press (https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt32bhht ). McGarity demonstrates how the ideology of neo-liberalism creates and sustains the ‘freedom to harm’ workers. I’m sure this text is on no WHS Curriculum. You can read more on how neoliberal ideology sanctions the freedom to harm here:
How fascinating this industry that loves to claim the label ‘professional’ and, at the same time the ideology of zero vision.
Zero vision and the ‘freedom to harm’ are closely connected, one sustains the other. If one were truly interested in zero harm one would be on the front foot against neoliberalism and its by-product ‘freedom to harm’. However, the last thing Zero wants to do is alienate political masters, neoliberal corporations and sponsors.
So, the darling of Zero is petty risk, slips, trips and falls. Every time safety runs a campaign this is the focus (https://safetyrisk.net/meerkat-mythology-in-safety/ ; https://safetyrisk.net/meerkat-safety-can-it-get-more-dumb/ ). Nothing is better to hide political reality than a petty distraction and this is what Zero does. When your ideology is zero, the by-product is pettiness.
Whilst the elephant in the room remains invisible, Zero is delighted. Zero is so busy counting the number of times it doesn’t achieve its goal it has no time for big picture issues in Ethics, Cultural tyranny or Politics.
This is also the fallacy the is foundational in nonsense like ‘1% safer’ (https://safetyrisk.net/1-safer-than-what/ ) and marginal gains (https://safetyrisk.net/the-fallacy-of-marginal-gains-and-nudges/ ). Every time Zero sucks one into its vortex the answer is always numbers (https://safetyrisk.net/its-always-a-number/ ) and petty risk (https://safetyrisk.net/petty-pissy-zero-harm/). When your discourse is framed by 1% you start looking for petty gains to prove the assumptions of your ideology.
How convenient this zero cult that draws people into pettiness the grand distraction from fatalities in the gig economy, freedom to harm indeed.