Safety Futurism

We would love to hear about recent, classic examples of “futuristic safety discourse” you have come across – please share them in the comments below – latest I saw was: “The brain science of optimal safety using the Zero Incident Process (ZIP)” – thanks, Dave

Safety Futurism

Article by Dr Rob Long from

denialI saw a few things this week that demonstrate the continuing trend of shallow populist safety discourse. The first was an ad for a safety conference espousing a ‘revolution’ in safety, the silver bullet that would get to zero. It was a simply a conference about design and how we need to design objects to be people oriented. Then another conference that was going ‘shape the future of safety’. This conference used the language of ‘guaranteeing no error’, incident free future and of course attaining ‘zero’. What was it about? More of the same, chose your instrument of guilt, fear, policing and dreaming. Then stumbled across someone who was calling themselves a ‘thought leader in safety’ and, another a ‘safety futurist’. What they were offering was nothing new, just ‘spin’ and shallow promises, more measurement and regulation, more vigilance, more hype and more ‘safety shlock’. Then I saw someone offering advice on how to deliver ‘perfect safety’ and of course you should know, there is a company out there that calls themselves ‘perfect safety’. I guess if I called a church ‘Perfect People Church’ someone would attend.

It seems like the safety trade can’t get enough of nonsense language, yoyo’s and fads, a wonderful distraction from everyday life. It seems like the last thing anyone wants to hear is how to do ordinary things better. No, the safety trade has an unquenchable thirst for safety drivel. It seems the safety trade wants ‘hazardman’, dumb ways to die, futurism, ‘error free’, spin and perfection promises. Someone must be paying to hear this simplistic safety spin, or it wouldn’t survive. Poor olde safety, poor bipolar safety, crusading against the evils of harm and the sin of risk. Perhaps the proper name for safety ought to be ‘ostrich safety’. With heads in the ground imagining no harm or mistakes in the world, no by-products hidden somewhere else, no denial or delusion, making spin reality and reality spin. No more uncertainty, no more risk, no more fallible people ah, nirvana and heaven all rolled into one.

You don’t have to be supernatural to predict the future of safety if this stuff is anything to go by, just look at the trends and ask a few questions?

1. Who is guiding these safety trends?

2. Who has the most vested interests in the economics and power of safety?

3. Is it likely that we will have less or more regulation and bureaucracy in safety in the future?

4. What will be the by-products of even more excessive regulation and legislation?

5. What new ‘spin’ will come after already rejecting the word ‘safety’ for its substitute ‘zero harm’ (some companies have already done so and now employ ‘zero harm managers’)

6. How much more meaningless language in safety will emerge in the quest for absolute perfectionism?

7. What will the new by-products of denial of fallibility be in 10 years time when the naïve discover that no promises of absolutes are real?

8. How long will it take for safety to become a sub-branch of the legal profession? Perhaps in 10 years time the safety trade will need a degree in policing to ensure safety?

9. Maybe the Diploma in Safety in 2024 might have more subject units on how not to think critically and how to disconnect one’s brain from reality. Maybe by 2024 we will have redefined ‘indoctrination’ as ‘learning’ just like we have substituted ‘zero’ for ‘safety’.

10. In 10 years time will we be anymore skilled at dialogue with each other, less individualistic and lonely, more communal and better listeners?

So when we finally reach perfection and absolute zero after all these charlatans have delivered on their promises. When we finally reach perfection in 10 years time, whose going to inform god?

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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Dr Rob Long
PhD., MEd., MOH., BEd., BTh., Dip T., Dip Min., Cert IV TAA, MRMIA Rob is the founder of Human Dymensions and has extensive experience, qualifications and expertise across a range of sectors including government, education, corporate, industry and community sectors over 30 years. Rob has worked at all levels of the education and training sector including serving on various post graduate executive, post graduate supervision, post graduate course design and implementation programs.

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