Meerkat Safety, Can it Get More Dumb?
Isn’t it strange this industry that doesn’t know what to do about safety. How weird that the best way to tackle risk is engage a marketing company and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a dumb down idea that will fall over in a few weeks. How strange to have a campaign using meerkats as some entrée to the human understanding of the human unconscious. How strange this industry that doesn’t want to get serious about the human unconscious and decision making. No, let’s tap into our ‘inner meerkat’ and check our gut (https://safetyrisk.net/the-aihs-bok-and-ethics-check-your-gut/) and talk about ‘instinct’ and for god sake, don’t talk about research on the human unconscious.
Of course the concept of ‘sensing something’ is on the same planet as ‘common sense’ and ‘check your gut’. What an amazing projection into the human unconscious from this engineering-behaviourist-science industry that has no clue about how workers make decisions (https://safetyrisk.net/how-workers-really-make-decisions/ ; https://safetyrisk.net/how-do-workers-make-decisions/). And what is this extra-sensory perception? Ah, it’s meerkats running over a computer telling you that some things wrong??? Please can Safety get any more dumb?
I know what the conversation goes like on site. ‘Let’s stop this work, my inner meerkat told me this is risky’ and your boss replies, ‘here’s the EAP number, call a counsellor’. The idea of trusting instinct to make decisions is fraught with huge problems. If you want to get serious about instinct, heuristics, implicit/tacit knowing then start here: https://monoskop.org/File:Polanyi_Michael_The_Tacit_Dimension.pdf . Then when you are finished that one, I have a few hundred more to keep you going. Is this the basis for how Worksafe NZ wants decisions on risk made in the workplace?
Just because this engineering-behaviourist-science industry has no clue about human consciousness doesn’t mean it make sense to develop some crazy attachment to ‘meerkat instinct’ as if ‘gut thinking’ and instinct are the foundation for effective risk decision making or that meerkat instinct is even remotely like human heuristics, which it is not.
Of course, there is no comparison between the instincts of a meerkat and how the human unconscious works. Making such a comparison even if only symbolically, shows that Safety has absolutely no idea of human consciousness. Human sensemaking has absolutely NO correlation to the sensemaking of a meerkat. Fancy thinking that the best way to encourage looking after your mates was to be compared to meerkat instinct.
‘Meerkat’ is the Dutch name for ‘monkey’ but is a mongoose that gathers in packs that brutalise each other often leading to severe injury and death. They are highly aggressive and fiercely competitive in a destructive victimization of any form of weakness of vulnerability in the pack. Vulnerable members of a meerkat pack are rejected and killed as required. They make coalitions so as to acquire dominance over others and eradicate the vulnerable (https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/bitstream/handle/10871/16393/ScottK.pdf?sequence=4; All clear? Meerkats attend to contextual information in close calls to coordinate vigilance
However, be it far from me to discuss how absurd this is but just look ‘Meerkat Safety’ is even trade marked (https://www.lattitudesafety.co.uk/programmes/meerkat-safety-all-for-one-the-meerkat-way/) and you can do a ‘meerkat’ risk review (https://www.lattitudesafety.co.uk/programmes/meerkat-safety-all-for-one-the-meerkat-way/) or you can play the ‘meerkat safety game’ (http://www.meerkatsafety.co.uk/).
It seems when Safety doesn’t know what to do, in the long line of ‘trust Barry Spud’ it continues to do all it can except engage in solid research into how workers make decisions.
Sound like a good model for Safety? You bet, let’s have more ‘Meerkat Safety’ sats Safework NZ. Sounds a perfect semiotic for when a Worksafe NZ Officer comes on site and crucifies you for not wearing glasses. That’s the meerkat way!