Qantas Wins Zero Crash Award–3rd Year in a Row

Qantas Wins Zero Crash Award–3rd Year in a Row  the world’s only safety and product rating website, today announced it’s top twenty safest airlines for 2016 from the 407 it monitors. They announce: “Top of the list for the third year is Australia’s Qantas, which has a fatality free record in the jet era – an extraordinary record”. (read more here – where you can read about the judging criteria)

Well done to Qantas! I have been flying with them for over 30 years and never had a bad experience (well except for the time one of their small regional aircraft I was on lost an engine whilst climbing to cruising altitude – that was an experience, most passengers were quite resilient to the drama and the pilots made a brilliant recovery – only disconcerting thing was seeing the fire engines and ambulances all over the runway and waiting for us to land!). They have also had their share of near misses and ‘incidents’.

Despite this impressive zero record I doubt you will ever see “ZERO CRASH” emblazoned on their Jumbos or used in marketing campaigns – they are much smarter and more customer savvy than that! Imagine, for a moment, what that would ‘do’ to you and how you would be feeling as you boarded the plane or listened to the safety briefing (induction) as they told you that their No1 priority was not crashing? (see how other airlines have attempted to take the edge off safety: Safety Can Be a Beautiful Thing and Bare Essentials of Safety)

In fact, most people are not thinking about safety at all when booking their tickets or boarding their flight. Airline Ratings surveyed passengers and found: “Today only about 25 per cent of travelers list safety as a major consideration when choosing a flight, with most citing price and frequency as the two most important aspects”. (see Airline Ratings). How many of you really pay attention during the pre-flight safety briefing?

Qantas and others, in high risk industries, who deal with large numbers of customers seem to get how people think and make decisions about safety, it most definitely  isn’t in their interests to harm anybody but they don’t need to spruik it – I would be quite suspicious if they did and it would certainly be detrimental to their sales. So why do some organisations frame workplace safety in such a negative, demotivating way? Some would say that the workplace is different to the ‘socialplace’ so we have to take a different approach to safety and controlling people – Really????

safety nothing happensI recently came across the new safety slogan for a large US organisation (see photo). I doubt that any of the employees have been brave enough to question the language, semiotics or trajectory of this as they have all been told what they must believe.

But, for the rest of us, what thinking and subsequent behaviours do slogans and mantras like this frame and prime in, mostly, our unconscious minds?

There is so much that is actually harmful about this ‘eliminate all risk and don’t fail’ approach to safety, despite the probable good intent.

As Dr Rob Long recently commented in Max Geyer’s excellent piece “Building resilience trumps the prevention of harm“:

“Unfortunately, the paradigm that dominates Safety is that of a binary mentality, it is ‘either-or’ not ‘both-and’. The thinking is generally not about the ethics of humanness but rather thinking that is forensic in nature. This leaves Safety with a dilemma that binary thinking creates, such thinking makes the tension of the two (fallibility and harm) irreconcilable. Binary thinking ignores the by-products of such language and thinking in favour of ‘one-over-another’ as if values don’t compete ethically. Your article highlights this tension and where the trajectory of sole focus of preventing harm takes Safety. This notion of trajectory is critical in understanding the problem of harm prevention as a sole priority.

See also: Say Something that Makes Sense

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