It’s Always About Paperwork
Oh, I get it. It’s not the problem of excessive paperwork, it’s just that you haven’t been filling it out properly. This is the core message of Useability Mapping (https://www.aihs.org.au/events/usability-mapping-masterclass ). The problem is not about paperwork itself but rather the method in completing it. You couldn’t make this stuff up and Safety rolls right along constructing more obligations, more paper-based extras and 4th tier compliances (https://safetyrisk.net/sin-eaters-for-safety/ ) that have no bearing at all on the management of risk.
The wonderful work of Greg Smith in Papersafe really captures the heart of the problem with the Safety psychosis with paperwork.
No matter what method you use to fill out paperwork none of it makes anyone safer. Work done doesn’t occur on paper, it occurs out on the job where real people walk and talk and tackle risk. Whatever you decided to construct in paperwork usually bears no reflection on reality or is outdated the moment it is written.
The problem isn’t the way paperwork is filled out, it’s the fixation and psychosis with paperwork itself. SWMS don’t keep people safe, risk assessments don’t keep people safe rather it’s the conversations that these things reflect that have some chance of helping workers tackle risk. The more volumes of paperwork that are generated contribute nothing to safety. What is put into paperwork most often bears no resemblance to how workers really make decisions (https://vimeo.com/471823469). Paperwork isn’t a defence in court (https://vimeo.com/162034157).
What we learn from the sciences of human cognition, learning, psycholinguistics, neuropsychology and social psychology is that paperwork is not a solution but the foundation of the problem. Any research at all in these sciences would show that method of paperwork completion is a furphy. Paperwork is the Safety anchor that weighs down this industry under the delusions that it has some relevance to decision making. Then when something goes wrong Safety brings in all the auditors and engineers to see what went wrong in the paperwork rather than the problem with paperwork itself. This is what the Dreamworld inquiry was about (https://safetyrisk.net/an-engineering-dreamworld/ ). This is the nonsense of the Brady Inquiry (https://safetyrisk.net/brady-review-nothing-new-no-way-forward/ ). It couldn’t possibly be that the addiction to paperwork has created a toxic culture and that this is the source of why things go wrong.
The most important thing when something goes wrong in safety is not to question the foundations of safety but to shuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic. It can’t possibly be that the ideology of safety in itself is at fault. It couldn’t possibly be that paperwork is the cause of the problem. No, paperwork is the saviour of the zero cult, you just have to learn how to fill it out properly then your injury rates will come down. (as if injury rates have anything to do with safety?) How strange this cult of zero that seeks infinity in paperwork.