No Evidence for the Religion of Zero
Vision Zero or Zero Vision?
Religious studies demonstrate that in our post-science/post-text world the secular is becoming more religious and the religious is becoming more secular (Ostwalt, 2012, Secular Steeples, Popular Culture and the Religious Imagination Bloomsbury, London also https://aeon.co/amp/ideas/why-religion-is-not-going-away-and-science-will-not-destroy-it). There is no better evidence for this than in the ideology-religion of zero. Lets look at the evidence.
At the recent World Congress on Safety and Health 2017 the ‘mission/vision’ for the Congress was ‘Vision Zero’. It seems when Safety doesn’t know what to do (with zero vision) about fallibility it reaches for the impossible and ‘worships’ zero in denial of reality.
Here is a ‘statement of faith’ from a recent report from the British Safety Council:
This ‘vision zero’ is graspable if the right approach is taken to empower individuals with the right knowledge and skills, and if good work can become the norm.
Of course with 2.78 million deaths at work a year, costing $2.97 billion (ILO), this vision seems a little far off. Is there not a danger that Congress falls into a gap between rhetoric and reality – a gap of its own making?
It’s clear that the ideology/religion of zero is about much more than metrics and numerics, although that is crazy in itself, it is about belief, in denial of fallibility.
No wonder in an activity that is about ‘saving lives’ that the quest for salvation in perfection surfaces as a faith commitment. (See further Dekker, Long and Wybo, 2016 Zero Vision and the Western Salvation Narrative, Safety Science https://espace.library.uq.edu.au/view/UQ:398943)
The strange thing is that Safety neatly falls in line with the Religious right as it seeks the road to perfection. With all the lights and floor show of a Hillsong Worship Service, Safety iconography and artifacts, The Congress demonstrated that the zero religion is now fully enculturated into the global Safety psyche.
The Archetype drives this faith-commitment to the ‘lost’ because it defines safety by counting (measurement then becomes a god). With a binary assumption one can only get the outcome of binary language and discourse. And the binary language continues to get more absurd like ‘Race to Zero, Safety that Works’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al2wOTBaJsg), there’s no contradiction there. And the religious fervor just grows in hype and belief, without evidence.
The language and discourse of zero (and its sign systems), set up the goal of the impossible in the Kingdom of Non-sense. With the ‘advent’ of zero and with the logic of Augustinian ‘original sin’ in the Bradley Curve (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-curves-and-pyramids/) we now see demonstrated many symbols of religion in the quest for salvation in Safety. The Love of Zero (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/for-the-love-of-zero/) has gone global.
It is no wonder that all those outside of the safety camp look inside and are mystified about this small cult speaking nonsense to the world of reality.
Dennis J Evans says
Industrial aged Zero safety management without a support system or formal guidance on how to collect and use the vast amount of data available. Has emerged as a Monster (Skills Gap in 2020) while serious nonefatal workplace injuries and illness run rampage with workers comp cost of $60 Billion dollars a year in the U.S. However systems thinking applied to a near miss reporting offers a dual pathway using benchmarking risk stressor units of measurements (aka) Key Risk Indicators (KRI’s) with predictive properties an early warning system.