Right Then Children, Sit Up Straight and Take Some Safety
I had a friend send a documented toolbox talk this week that was delivered to a site team in a tier 1 civil construction company and it was embarrassing. Why do teams of grown adults put up with such childish, kindergarten, patronizing nonsense when it is delivered in the name of safety??? Why would a tier 1 company with stratospheric absurdity in paperwork think that safety is best marketed though Mums For Safety???. And of course if something goes wrong, didn’t you ask your Mum? Wasn’t your Mum there to tell you what to do??? Did Mummy kiss it better? If you envision something you have to be aware of its trajectory (Envisioning Risk, Seeing, Vision and Meaning in Risk). If you have no vision then you can’t see what’s coming.
So many of these companies set themselves up for an absolute smashing because they peddle this immature 3 year old pre-school stuff at adults.
Of course the reason why such companies stoop to this childish stuff is because they don’t understand why people do what they do. They have no idea about human judgment and decision making and so the only reason they can find to explain worker’s actions is attributed to intentionally or dumbness. All this is premised on the behaviourist paradigm that people are the sum of inputs and outputs. No greater curse to safety than behaviourism.
Whatever your brand of behaviourism you can be assured, it will never help you understand why people do what they do. If you build a castle on sand, its bound to fall over and building sand castles seems to be a profession for Safety.
The toolbox in question that was posted to me was about eye wear, and of course these guys had been flogged to death, sermonized, lectured and indoctrinated with safety glasses campaigns for the past 20 years. Oh yeah, but I know, lets give the dumb bastards another serve because they obviously don’t get it. Then without any qualifications or experience in adult learning, education or teaching, deliver a 3 year old serve of playschool (https://safetyrisk.net/what-can-safety-learn-from-playschool/ ) in the name of safety. No wonder workers think safety is a dumb embuggerance inflicted on adults who are sick to death of the lack of imagination and vision in an industry so poorly educated that this is the best they can come up with.
Of course you can’t criticize Safety, you’d lose your job. You can’t criticize Safety you would be anti-safety. You can’t criticize Safety, even though it is infantile and immature, because Safety is always right. You can’t criticize Safety because you will be deemed toxic and negative. Sit up straight boys and girls and cop your medicine in safety.
The exercise that was a part of this toolbox involved a role-play and of course delivered by a person with no competence at all in what they were doing and, by all reports completely disinterested in the message that he had to deliver because he too wanted to keep his job. I think were I to show this to the average school teacher they would be embarrassed to ever try something like this with a Year 1 class!
And so here we have more of the same, no vision for safety with ‘dumb down’ packaged as a strategy for tackling risk that creates cynicism, negativity, pessimism and skepticism. What an outcome! I bet no one envisioned such a trajectory, delivering a message in safety that pissed off everyone to Safety. Brilliant!
If this is the culture Safety wishes to create then all safety messages that follow are a waste of time. Adults who switch off in being treated like 3 year olds don’t remember a skerrick of the message, all they remember is that Safety is about stupidity, childishness and blind compliance. Most often the dumb down message drives the very opposite of what is desired. No wonder rooves fall in when you need your Mum around to tell you what to do. And the industry wishes to claim the word ‘professional’.