I Have the Power, I’m a Safety Hero
I try to avoid attending safety conferences as much as I can as I find them depressing and lacking vision. Each time I am compelled to go I am never surprised by the kind of delusional stuff believed by the industry. The worst is the myth of the safety hero. Recently I had to attend a conference and I didn’t have to wait long till out came the same preoccupation with safety and power and heroics.
It is election time in Australia and politicians are in the air seeking photo shoots and tabloid spreads. As people might know the Prime Minister (PM) has a large entourage of ‘minders’ and plain clothed security staff. They are there to care, protect and keep the PM safe. Everything has to be highly managed with some ad lib and a huge media contingent follows.
Of course, if the PM wants his picture on an excavator (sitting in it) that can’t happen. Three points of contact, no ticket etc. It was amazing to hear this presenter go on about the power of Safety. Even I can stop the Prime Minister from being unsafe. Here I am to save the Prime Minister, he doesn’t know how to be safe, neither do his minders.
Apparently, one of the minders of the PM suggested on a civil construction site that a pic on an excavator would be a good snap. Not with a Safety hero around. Out comes the superhero, even he can save the PM from himself.
What an amazing tirade this presentation was. The core message wasn’t really about safety at all or risk but rather about the power of the safety hero. Look at me, I can use safety to have power over the PM. Only I can keep the PM safe. That was the message.
You don’t have to search hard to find the mythology of heroes and heroics in Safety, it dominates the safety airwaves. Here are a couple of links that might help raise your vomit level including indoctrination and propaganda into schools:
Have you seen enough?
There are thousands more.
The mythology of heroics is one of the most damaging metaphors and symbols of the safety industry.
The last thing you want anywhere in a crisis is a hero. Anyone who behaved like a hero at Beaconsfield was a danger to the rescue and was put off the team. The last person anyone will empathise with in a challenge, struggle or suffering is a hero. Heroes alienate people who want everyday ordinary people to just go about the everyday task of ‘helping’ people tackle risk. We don’t need heroes in safety, we need ‘helpers’.
Unfortunately, heroes don’t ‘help’ they ‘save’. Heroes dominate the atmosphere, no one else can save the day except the hero. Ah, look at me, I have power over the PM of Australia. This is not what Real Risk is about (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/real-risk/ ). Safety doesn’t ‘save’ lives (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-people-dont-save-lives/ ). Ah here are some slips, trips and falls, where is Hazardman (https://safetyrisk.net/hazardman-wont-save-you/) when you need him.
When you ‘meet’ people who really are helpers and not heroes (https://safetyrisk.net/risk-boldly/) they never claim the delusional myth of hero. There can never be heroics in real safety.