I wrote about ‘understanding risk’ 6 years ago (https://safetyrisk.net/understanding-risk/) referencing the work of Kahneman, Slovic, Plous and Tversky. Their work on risk decision making first emerged in the 1970s. This ground breaking researched should have shifted the addiction of Safety to behaviourism but, alas no. Forty years on and Behaviourism is infused throughout the safety industry, despite the fact that it doesn’t work.
BBS is alive and well in safety but should be called BBB, Behaviour-Based Brutalism.
When you have faith in a religion contrary to the evidence, usually that faith anchors more deeply under cognitive dissonance (https://safetyrisk.net/cognitive-dissonance-and-safety-beliefs/). This is why Zero adores believing the impossible (https://safetyrisk.net/believe-the-impossible-and-speak-nonsense-to-people/). This is why Zero states ‘just believe’ (https://safetyrisk.net/no-evidence-for-the-religion-of-zero/). This is why Safety states that zero is a reality, in denial of reality ((https://myosh.com/blog/2020/01/21/why-zero-harm-is-not-a-reality/). Such a psychosis is the foundation of a mental health disorder.
All of this nonsense is in denial of risk. The word and concept of risk, doesn’t make sense in the face of all this silly safety rhetoric.
Nothing is a risk if you know the outcome.
If you don’t know the outcome, then it’s a risk.
This is the reality of fallibility (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/ ). A necessary characteristic of being human (https://safetyrisk.net/the-fallibility-factor/ ).
Risk is a paradox, a wicked problem (https://safetyrisk.net/risk-and-safety-as-a-wicked-problem/). The quest to reduce risk is also the quest to diminish human learning. The quest to conquer the unpredictable, uncertainty and fallibility, is the quest of Transhumanism. Harm, pain and loss has always and will be essential for learning. Some of the greatest life-saving inventions have been discovered by mistakes, error and harm (see Hallinan Why We Make Mistakes).
The realities of risk and the unpredictable outcomes of risk ought not to generate the fear of risk. The fear of risk creates new risks under homeostasis that are just as risky. Such is the paradox of seeking to control all risk. For every risk we seek to control, there is an equal and unseen by-product and trade-off that we won’t see till much later.
All of this is contained within the reality and paradox of risk.
Avoidance and denial of the paradox of risk once again, provides fuel for a mental health disorder.
The best way to understand the paradox of risk is through the linguistics and metaphor of ‘the dance’ or the metaphor of ‘jazz’.
Dance and jazz are about both order and disorder, control and ad lib, form and free form, and no one is afraid to go off melody and explore possibility, play and discovery. Of course, there is always the possibility of injury in dance (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/2159676X.2011.572181 ). There is risk in all performance. Just because injury is possible in dance, we don’t stop dancing or wrap dancers in cotton wool. Dance also fosters wellness, vitality, healing and flourishing. Indeed, dance is a therapeutic (https://dtaa.org.au/), why would one want to stop such a good think through fear of injury? (https://ro.ecu.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2176&context=theses_hons)
This is the essential paradox of risk.
This is also the paradox of resilience.
Dance is also a good metaphor for risk because it captures the essential need for embodied movement, embodied learning, dialectic, relationship, Socialitie and helping. So much of dance holds but doesn’t seek to control the other, but encourages agreed mutuality established through care. Most learning in dance is experiential with some theory. The same with risk.
Dance is also a very semiotic activity (https://archive.org/details/semioticsoftheat0000elam ), a visual performance of emotional and felt knowing. Such knowing can’t be measured and is ruined by any quest to turn it into an engineering exercise. Dance exists to be seen, felt, enjoyed and experienced. The same for risk.
Risk is NOT the enemy.
However, in zero, safety makes it so.
What we learn in SPoR is to better understand risk so we can tackle it with wisdom and maturity (https://safetyrisk.net/introduction-to-spor-free/). This is a positive, constructive, practical and sense-able approach to risk. Once again, any denial of fallibility and risk is a recipe for a mental health disorder.
In SPoR, life and being, social reality and fallibility are understood as enabling and essential to human flourishing. In SPoR, we learn about human judgment and decision making, why people do what they do, which has nothing to do with behaviourism.
In SPoR, we embrace the dance, join in the dance and don’t sit on the chairs against the wall winging about not being able to dance.
In SPoR, we use what we know of risk, and with tried and practical methods of SPoR, to improve the way people tackle risk in the workplace. And it works! (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/it-works-a-new-approach-to-risk-and-safety/).
I understand and get the basic concepts you talk of, BUT it seems perhaps just to get the point across you are losing people such as myself in the rants and basically doing what everyone else does in regards to safety….make it far more complicated than it needs to be. It isn’t rocket science, but if you think you can change the minds of people any more than you can change the ideals of the Zero harm muppets, then I believe you are just as confused. When was the last time you actually went out to a workfront and actually observed and spoke to workers? The words and language you use confuses me let alone someone who is trained licensed and competent to do their work, but needs support in ensuring they have the right tools and barriers to ensure they don’t get hurt. So instead of slagging everyone off about what they are doing wrong, please actually come up with some concrete advise to change the world as you envisage.
Rob Long says
Goodness me. Every post offers positive and constructive alternatives to traditional safety. The concrete advice is offered constantly, as was in this post.
When was I last on site talking to workers? Yesterday, day before, last week. I’m constantly on site talking to workers.
It’s a blog, not an academic paper nor a walk on site, my modes of communication and engagement ought not to be confused, especially by those who don’t know me anc somehow think I don’t live in the real world.
BTW, all my programs with workers are well received and followed enthusiastically. Delivered by myself and my associates.
perhaps you need to develop an app
Rob Long says
Of course, if I look at a dance on an ipad, I must be dancing. The machine that goes bing is the new religion of our age.