Safety at the Margins
I note with interest the disappointment with mainstream Safety with being on the political margins, evidenced in recent blogs (The party politics of safety , The politics of safety, OHS is largely overlooked even on its special day ). However, there are good reasons why Safety doesn’t connect socially or politically with people and most of it is self inflicted. Of course, Safety doesn’t study politics so its not likely it will know how to connect politically.
When an industry decides to identify with the extremes eg. the ideology of zero as the global mantra, it will naturally alienate people. What other industry lives in denial of fallibility? Only Safety (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/).
When one’s language is infused with religious fervor and cultish-like discourse (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-sacraments-and-rituals/; https://safetyrisk.net/the-religion-of-safety/ ) no wonder it doesn’t connect with the mainstream.
When ones ideology is based on a closed binary behaviourist sense of reality, no wonder nothing connects with the real world (https://safetyrisk.net/the-curse-of-behaviourism/; https://safetyrisk.net/turning-neuroscience-into-behaviourism/ ). When the outcome is brutalism and dehumanization (https://safetyrisk.net/the-mechanistic-worldview-and-the-dehumanisation-of-risk/; https://safetyrisk.net/the-dynamics-of-dehumanisation/ ), no wonder no one is interested.
Unfortunately, Safety has created its own monster, wrapped in the excesses of paperwork, anxiety, fear and meaningless symbols that simply don’t connect with the everyday person. People want to go about their ordinary lives without some safety crusader freaking out about pissy petty risk (https://safetyrisk.net/petty-pissy-zero-harm/ ).
Real people don’t ‘connect’ with mechanics and numerics, they are simply not interested in being treated like numbers and certainly get bored with the irrelevant fixation on injury numbers that have no meaning. Neither do people connect with an industry preoccupied with objects (https://safetyrisk.net/anchoring-safety-to-objects/), people are much more interested in subjects.
Real people don’t get up in the morning preoccupied with the fear of injury but rather the quest to live and engage with the world. The last thing of interest is some policeman at work preoccupied with ‘safety shares’ and ‘safety minutes’ that concoct up nonsense before a meeting in some tokenistic diatribe of embarrassment.
The real challenge for Safety is to escape from its cloistered silo and look outside of its own boundaries, a fortress built with walls of cognitivism and positivism. As yet it has no curriculum to escape the confines of these ideologies and still doesn’t realize such are their boundary objects.
Safety is yet to develop the language necessary to translate across boundaries. It certainly has no transdisciplinary focus. When the rationale of an industry is fixated on compliance and intolerance, it’s not likely that there will be much boundary crossing or engagement with ‘the other’. The other must be demonized and eliminated, this is the rule of zero. As an archetype, it is yet to develop a language of connection.
It would be good if Safety one day connected with the mainstream but it has much to unlearn and a great deal of baggage to offload. The best place to start is of course dumping the nonsense ideology of zero.