Finally a Book About Risk That Makes Sense
For some time now we have been privileged to have Dr Robert Long writing some very interesting and provocative articles about creative and effective ways to manage risk in the workplace. They have proven very popular – See them all here
You know all about Legislation, Codes of Practice, Standards, Guidelines, safety systems like BBS, endless paperwork and forms, highly qualified safety consultants, the latest research etc but have you ever thought that something was still missing – you just couldn’t put your finger on it? Risk management is a cornerstone of safety management, and legislation enshrines ones obligations to identify hazards, reduce the risks, implement actions and monitor the outcomes. No-one should argue with the moral, social and legal obligation to provide a safe work place, but what is safe? Can a work place be without risks? Can all risks be identified and controlled to an acceptable level, whatever that might mean? Unfortunately, whole industries have now built up around risk management, where even the slightest risk is now turned into a negative, with many organisations choosing the slogan of ‘zero harm’ as their mantra. In some organisations it seems that the word ‘risk’ has become associated and equated with the word ‘evil’. The motto and language of ‘zero’ is everywhere, sometimes spoken of in organisations like a religious fundamentalist belief. The cult of zero is so pervasive that to question it incurs the wrath of an inquisition. The language of ‘zero’ has become threaded into popular safety culture and industry without question. The language and trajectory of zero doesn’t make sense under the lens of learning, motivation and imagination. It is as if the very taking of a risk in some industries is equated with stupidity. It is as if risk doesn’t make sense.
Then, finally, here is a book by someone who gets it!
NB: We have no commercial interest in this book nor do we receive any financial considerations from it’s sale – its just a damn good read! – do yourself a favour and get a copy!
What the book is about
You can download a more detailed intro, including the table of contents here: [download id=”184″]
If you want to just skip the intro and buy the book CLICK HERE
Dont just take my word for it – read the testimonials here: TESTIMONIALS
In a world of growing risk aversion, one could be forgiven for thinking that risk doesn’t make sense. Risk elimination thinking and behaviour sets a trajectory for a ‘dumb down’ workplace culture. The more efforts are made to ‘engineer out the idiot’, the more the system creates an unthinking workforce.
A Newsletter in 2011 by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the UK lists a number of things that have been banned. Dodgem cars, school sack races and kite flying, amongst the activities which have been banned. Some schools have banned kids playing on monkey bars and others have banned leather footballs. A local council has instituted a $1000 penalty for kite flying on council ovals in case somebody might get hit. Even the Royal British Legion had to stop selling poppies with pins on Remembrance Day in case people might prick themselves.
(Safety Snippets Edition 22, September 2011)
The report above demonstrates just how absurd things have developed in our risk adverse society. The reality is, there is no learning without risk. Risk is not bad. You can’t live life without a ‘trade-off’ for risk. You can’t learn without risk. We seem more than ever preoccupied with lawsuits than learning, more anxious about injury than adventure and, fearful of harm rather than welcoming creativity. The quest for certainty, absolute control and the elimination of doubt is a fundamentalist pursuit.
The evolving language of risk elimination and cult-like fixation with everything ‘zero’ is a language that fosters the development of an unthinking workforce. As risk aversion increases, so do the resulting management systems that accompany it. This results in ‘flooding’ the worker so that they default to gut instincts, personal micro-rules and ‘risk quackery’. This increases risk. Rather than resist risk or extinguish risk, we need to embrace it and better understand it from a psychological and cultural perspective. This is a purpose of the book.
The answer to the challenge of risk is not more paperwork but more effective conversations and dialogue that are tuned into the psychology and culture of risk. When learning is the lens through which we view risk, risk makes sense.
The book is 182 pages and includes workshop questions at the end of each chapter and is only available from the website https://www.humandymensions.com . The book is structured in three parts. The first part is: What we Know about Risk, the second is: What we Know about Human Sensemaking and the third is, What we can do to Make Better Sense of Risk.