Injury Rates and the Danger of Eating Sultanas
We read recently of the rise in car crashes In Australia caused by eating sultanas. Of course you have to laugh because this is the same binary logic that dominates the safety industry as a reality, driven by Zero.
Tim Minchin also captures this error Post hoc ergo propter hoc error in his neat performance on attribution and causation, also portrayed wonderfully on West Wing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL_vHDjG5Wk). Also the Cm Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc error when one confuses and gives attribution to a link between two things that have no link at all.
This is what Safety does with injury rates, one of the most common ‘beliefs’ in the industry that injury rates are a demonstration of safety. Yet, we continue to see that reporting of injury rates remains the most projected delusion in the industry, all beautifully sustained by the language and love of zero (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/for-the-love-of-zero-free-download/).
When your ideology and language are framed by zero, then the attribution of value given to injury rates becomes the grand delusion. Measure what can be counted but never count what counts, that’s the safety way (https://safetyrisk.net/zero-vision-creates-mindless-gobbledygook/).
There is no link at all that can be made between injury rates and the presence of safety.
Yet, how many safety people have to trot out this rubbish every day and every report? Safety people are then forced to be TRIFR Zombies (https://safetyrisk.net/trifr-safety-zombies/). A neat little blog to read is also at: here: https://safetydifferently.com/when-does-a-reduction-in-injury-numbers-become-statistically-significant/
Of course, one of the grand delusions of safety associated with injury rates is the fixation with trying to measure something that cannot be measured:
Safety cannot be measured because it is fleeting every moment. There is no guarantee of safety, there is no assurance of no harm so whatever you measure attributed to the moment indicates nothing about the future.
Fallibility is the great foil for zero nonsense (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/ ). Indeed, measuring the history of injuries carries no connection at all to what will happen tomorrow, this is why we have insurance policies. So back to the sultanas, don’t eat them, they are bad for road safety!
As you read this comical article in The Shovel, you should realise that this is the kind of logic that gets trotted out in safety every day and poor old safety people have to accept it or get the sack. Just look at the silly zero road campaigns (https://towardszero.nsw.gov.au/). Whilst fatalities increase and every measure is a contradiction of the projected goal (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jan/01/australias-road-toll-falls-only-slightly-despite-coronavirus-lockdowns ). The road toll falls slightly because of Covid-19, see our campaign is successful, super dumb.
Zero is not just a goal – its an ideology, logic, semiotic and language. Oh yeah right, it’s only ‘towards’ zero. Lovely cop out for the feeble minded.
That’s it, next safety campaign should be, eat less sultanas. Or, maybe we could have pickled cars fighting meerkats to be saved by Hazardman or even better your Mum! (https://safetyrisk.net/meerkat-mythology-in-safety/ ; https://safetyrisk.net/meerkat-safety-can-it-get-more-dumb/).
Part of the problem is that safety people are most often low in the food chain and have no choice: it’s either their mortgage or the sack (https://safetyrisk.net/challenge-the-great-trifr-and-lti-delusion/ ). So, publish those injury statistics and manage the anxiety of false attribution and don’t talk about the war.