I get sent safety ‘goop’ every day and it’s hard to keep up with just how dumb this industry can get.
The latest in the endless safety saga of speaking nonsense to people is this one (see Figure 1. Zero Harm in Our Lifetime).
Figure 1. Zero Harm in Our Lifetime
Of course, there can never be zero harm in any life time or in a million lifetimes. This is because zero harm is a phoney concept based on the denial of fallible mortal human life.
But just like ‘believe the impossible’ and all language of utopia and perfectionism (https://safetyrisk.net/utopian-language-and-the-quest-for-perfection-in-safety/) that saturates this silly industry, no one in safety believes it. This is supported by thousands of people who have responded to the zero survey (https://safetyrisk.net/take-the-zero-survey/).
It makes you wonder how these dreamers and fallibility deniers can keep coming out with this ‘goop’ as if no one understands just how dumb it is. If you want to read more of this stupidity have a look here at the speech presented at this summit: file:///Users/rl/Downloads/mhsc-ohs-summit-2022-nfakude-13october2022.pdf
Just read some of this nonsense:
‘The “in our lifetime” part makes all the difference because it signals that this is not a pipedream but something that we want to achieve with urgency’.
Of course, this goop is a pipedream. Just how are fallible mortal people in a random world of risk going to achieve perfection? How does setting a lifetime goal make any difference? How does any of this nonsense help anyone tackle risk?
‘But we know that words alone are not enough. It is the actions, the leadership, and the passion that make these declarations come alive’.
So, something comes alive by being a passionate declaration. This is the same in any claim of any religion. It must be true because I’m passionate about it and declare it to be true.
Then the speech continues to present all the injuries and fatalities in the mining industry. All premised on the nonsense idea that numerics is a demonstration of safety, which of course it isn’t. It’s all attribution and utter nonsense.
The speech continues by declaring that the industry never achieves its targets but never mind let’s set a new unachievable target ‘by the end of our lifetime’. Of course, you will forget that nothing was achieved in your lifetime, that way in thesnext lifetime the next lot can set a new goal of achieving zero in the next lifetime.
Then typical of zero perfectionism comes the mandatory blaming:
‘At present, people die or get injured because they don’t fully appreciate the risks they are exposed to, or because they’re prepared to tolerate them’ … ‘Or, worse, others might be injured or killed through the concealing of problems in the hope that they will never be noticed’.
Blind Freddy can see where all of this must end up, in brutalism (https://safetyrisk.net/nothing-is-learned-through-brutalism/ ).
Here’s more on the safety record on speaking nonsense to people:
One of my favourites in speaking nonsense to people is from back in 2010 with Balfour Beatty proudly spruiking nonsense about achieving zero harm in 2012. (See Figure 2. Zero Harm by 2012).
Figure 2. Zero Harm by 2012
Of course, any goal for zero can never be achieved.
The language of zero is not just nonsense but it is dangerous nonsense.
What’s more, none of this zero ‘goop’ is needed. None of this nonsense zero speak helps anyone tackle risk indeed, it turns the industry into a laughing stock and frames the work of safety as injury reduction in petty safety.
Poor olde Safety questing for perfection, the sure evidence of a mental health disorder.
This was in South Africa, so I googled what Mr Gwdede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy had to say. Unfortunately, looking at his speech a lot of it was the same as Ms Fakude’s speech. There is a call for a reduction in numbers, more formal collaboration efforts and more systems and procedures. Safety is measured only in terms of fatalities and injuries. To quote him “Government’s premise is that fatalities in the workplace are unacceptable and must be stopped.” I agree we do not want fatalities, but counting them would not stop them. A change in some of the quoted “improvements” are probably just natural fluctuations or less reporting. “The industry must quantify its success through investment in the number of workers who retire in good health”. No comment is needed. “The latest statistics and reports on occupational health and safety statistics show that employees are exposed to hazards that exceed the occupational exposure limit.” I am not sure what he wanted to say, but again it sounded like counting injuries as a measure of safety. “Therefore, we should make a concerted effort in the prevention and management of health matters.” To me, this sounds like “we need more procedures and paperwork.” “Ours is a zero-harm target.” It is impossible to misunderstand this. “Strengthen dedicated team that can do regular monitoring of workplaces.” This was followed by “Enforcing and monitoring of health and safety at mines through focused inspections and audits to be escalated including during the remaining period of 2022 and beyond”. This sounds like more policing is required. Who needs to be policed? Probably the least influential workers. Sorry for the long comment, but if this is the view from the lawmakers, people at the coalface are in a very vulnerable position with a high risk of being bullied and exploited (thrown under the bus) by senior employees who will only pass the buck and blame the worker.
Rob Long says
Yes Wynand, in my 52 years in the field of work I know that none of this ‘works’. It’s all delusional stuff premised on a false assumption about harm.
It not only lacks sophistication and maturity but also lacks wisdom, ethics and professionalism. Anyone support such stuff clearly has no connection to the people on the ground who know this is all safety goop for brutalism.
More of the same, more BBS, more paperwork, more policing and more zero.
I remember when I drove taxis at night for 4 years and my only fail safe was a red button, the last thing I wanted to hear was some rosy picture painted by some know it all safety crusader who had no idea of risk. You certainly don’t understand risk by the policing of objects and collection of hazard registers.
What I do know is that SPoR empowers workers in their reality by fostering maturity, wisdom and intelligence about risk. There is no more positive and practical method than seeing how this works in reality.
Pushing the delusion of zero down to workers simply alienates them and disconnects them from understanding real risk and safety. Zero actually makes the workplace a more risky place to work because it fosters the delusion of petty risk.
The only mental health disorder I’m seeing here is someone slamming the whole safety industry as if we’re all a bunch of idiots. You call yourself a Expert in Social Psychology? How does that line up with demeaning others and saying “just how dumb this industry can get?” Have you ever actually worked as a Safety Advisor on a construction site? Didn’t think so. With your arrogance you wouldn’t last half a day in my world. Whatever good insights you may have are lost in your put downs on others. I wouldn’t pay a dime to go to one of your seminars, which by the way are probably all filled up with people who will never be able to convey a message like yours to workers who aren’t into your mindset and don’t speak your language.
Rob Long says
Oh so here we go, let’s apologise for an industry that denies fallibility, that adores zero.
Oh and the old chestnut, have you ever worked in the industry, much more than you my mate. You don’t even know me or anything about me and are so happy to parade your ignorance on full show.
I have never attacked anyone. I’m addressing an industry not individuals in it. Read the text.
As for people at seminar etc. my associates and I are inundated for work in the field and currently delivering SPoR all over the globe.
As for arrogance. Yours is on full show.
Brian Darlington says
Hi Rob, as you know I am in full support of the leanings of SPoR and we have seen our language in our company change since doing away with Zero, understanding that people are fallible. I have attended around 14 of your modules, live with you and your team over the past four years. My only wish is that I had started the journey and made the change many years earlier. SPoR works in my world and the world of my team working in more than 30 countries across the globe. I have been in the risk and safety industry for 35 years, but without a doubt the most impactful on me has been the past four. Thanks Rob, keep doing what you do.
Rob Long says
Thanks Brian. As you and I know, safety doesn’t improve until you get rid of zero.
When I worked in safety in 19688 to today, I have never met one worker in the field who doesn’t believe zero is crap. Workers hate zero, it leads to. Bullying and petty pissy safety.
Any support for zero demonstrates you simply have no field experience.
In my second job in safety in 1971 we all knew back then that paperwork saves noone. We learned that all the Things we do in practise in SPiR works.
Your organisation is just one of hundreds that know the positive and practical work of SPoR.
A shame people defend the indefensible.
Andrew Floyd says
I have actually worked on many sites the last one was a very large MOD site as the principle H&S advisor. Because of my (as yet limited) knowledge of SPoR I was able and given free reign to use the principles of asking, and engaging, rather than telling preaching and the futility of a previous zero approach, with the whole of the workforce because management could see the difference. I have commendations from the principle project manager and sub-contractor management teams for the breath of fresh air approach and happier site.
Rob Long says
That’s great Andrew. This is the same for any place where they have the courage to jettison zero and take on SPoR methods.
Of course, perfectionism is a registered mental health disorder and yet Safety continues to go more deeply down that pathway.