The purpose of living in the world is not to be safe, secure and eliminate risk. If we live and move with purpose seeking meaning in the world, we must risk. Risk is not some behaviourist reward-attraction thing. What a nonsense to suggest that if one removes the reward people will risk less? Risk is essential to all movement and learning.
Neither the Safety Act nor Regulation expect risk elimination. The Act and Regulation expect people to tackle risk to ‘as low as reasonably acceptable’. The subjectivity of this phrase frames all thinking about risk at work. Lawyers and the court system know that humans are fallible, vulnerable and mortal and so the activities of the legal system weigh up such knowledge against the expectations of the Act and Regulation. The legal system does not expect organisations to manage risk to zero!
The legal system doesn’t look at safety as the safety industry does. Indeed, I’m sure OHS lawyers must laugh at the global mantra for Safety that sets its identity and expectations for zero (http://visionzero.global/node/6 ).
People don’t chose to risk, we live in risk. The quest to eliminate risk is a quest against what it is to be human. Risk makes sense (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/risk-makes-sense/)
The purpose of safety is not to save people from risk but to help people understand the risk they take.
Of course, it is because we must risk that we embrace uncertainty. It is because humans are fallible (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/) that we know that every risk involves a ‘leap of faith’. Faith is an assurance of something we hope for, it is not something we ‘know’.
So, we undertake some of the most insignificant activities assuming the risk is safe, but we don’t know. We get in the car to go to the shops under the assurance we will get home safely, but we don’t know this is so. We can do calculations, make predictions or take endless precautions for this shopping trip, but safety is not ‘assured’. The more we commit our activities to habit, ritual, heuristics and process, the less we think about the risk. This is show risk is normalized and undertaken unconsciously. Most people when risk becomes normalized and unconscious cannot ‘see’ the risks they take, because risk isn’t a cognitive process.
Communication, process and ideology about zero simply contributes to the delusion that risk has been eliminated. Similarly, publishing injury statistics of temporary zero acts in the same way, creating the assurance that risk are being managed, when they may not.
The how does Safety enter the world of work? By helping people reflect on the risks they take. That is it. It’s not rocket science, the rest is a smoke screen for ‘papersafety’ (https://www.booktopia.com.au/paper-safe-gregory-w-smith/book/9780987630001.html ).