Just yesterday I was told, again, that if If don’t believe in zero harm then I must want people to get hurt and therefore have no right to be in safety! Our recent article on the problems with “fire and brimstone safety” stirred up some debate about the ineffectiveness of negative safety stories and goals. Reframing safety conversion in the context of religion highlights some very concerning comparisons. This latest article by Dr Rob Long explains how the religious discourse of belief and perfection, tied to safety, drives an ideology of hiding and denial.
Safety as Faith Healing
The circus of faith healing is a well-honed craft. First, attract vulnerable people with promises of miracles, give them evidence of the power of healing, make this conditional on one’s personal volume of faith and stand back and reap in the ‘moolah’. The key to this craft is in the binary promise, an either/or option put forward by the faith healer who promises perfection. Then, if you are not healed the answer is simple, you didn’t have enough faith to be healed.
When we confront binary logic, the best way to test its validity is to pose its opposite. If there is an absolute rule, is there an exception to the rule, there usually is. There is no human activity that doesn’t involve some trade-off or by-product. This is the catch 22 of the faith healer, a wonder ruse with a loaded dice.
I get posted dozens of silly safety slogans and mindless safety dumb down stuff each week and this week is no exception. This one comes from a tier one manufacturer, again immersed in the binary nonsense of zero (see the poster below).
Of course, if you don’t achieve it, it must be because you don’t believe it. And, if you don’t believe it, you must be punished. What a convenient catch 22, wrapped up in more safety dumb down binary logic. Poor dumb down safety, with more nonsense discourse about perfection, fed to fallible people who will be found wanting in belief. Poor dumb down safety, backed into a corner by binary opposition thinking so that it can’t imagine any other option in language other than fallibility denying nonsense. When safety continues to believe that the lower order goal of measurement can be joined to the higher order goal of belief, then there is a real problem.
This problem is not a problem of injury but has now been made a problem of belief! Safety has now been made a religion for true believers (safetyrisk.net/safety-for-true-believers/ ). Armed with pyramids and religious curves (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-curves-and-pyramids/), safety can now repress uncertainty (safetyrisk.net/the-repression-of-uncertainty/) and preach the semiotics of ‘all accidents are preventable’ and ‘safety is a choice you make’ (www.safetyrisk.net/is-safety-a-choice-you-make/).
In the end, a religious discourse of belief and perfection tied to safety must drive an ideology of hiding and denial (safetyrisk.net/perfectionism-in-safety-and-the-denial-of-humanity/). For, every registered injury is now evidence of a lack of belief! The cycle then continues of, under reporting, denial of belief, inquisition into belief, appropriate sackings and, the perpetuation of injury through a culture of anti-learning (safetyrisk.net/false-consciousness-and-perception-in-risk-and-safety/ ).
The main enemy of faith healing is time and fallibility; the enemy of perfection is mortal reality. Trouble is, when you have been metering out denial for years there is no grace for you in return (listverse.com/2015/01/16/10-evangelist-preachers-who-fell-from-grace/). When you have been metering out the language of zero for years, that next little slip up (that will come) will be very unforgiving (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_investigation).