Safety People Don’t ‘Save Lives’
The naivety and delusions of the safety industry know no bounds as is evident by this language that surfaces at safety conferences about how safety ‘saves lives’. An example is below.
Such language should not be part of safety discourse and certainly endorses the many articles on this blog site about the religious nature of the industry (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-for-true-believers/ ). Of course when one’s discourse is about zero, absolutes, death and fallibility denial the natural trajectory must be about salvation and faith. Most language I read about zero is most certainly about faith and belief in the impossible.
The study of salvation is called soteriology, its 101 in any theology degree. As part of that study one gets an insight into the delusional language of saviors. The language of saviors as heroes is also common in the safety industry. What does this kind of language portray? Is this a healthy kind of language to promote everyday care for safety? I would suggest not.
Thankfully the nonsense rhetoric of Hazardman projected by the ACT Regulator has left the Internet (https://safetyrisk.net/hazardman-disappears/, https://safetyrisk.net/hazardman-wont-save-you/) but it was up for several years as a testimony to the ignorance and stupidity of the sector. However, the language and heroics continues to dominate safety discourse throughout the sector.
The language and archetypes of heroics and saviours is counterproductive to the message of safety. Safety doesn’t ‘save lives’ and the more the industry speaks such rhetoric the more it elevates itself to levels of dangerous superiority. The key to safety is not about being superior but about being alongside others, helping others, listening and knowing that human fallibility reminds us of the need to be humble, caring and forgiving to each other. A little dose of Schein’s Humble Enquiry would be helpful. After all, the safety hero on a pedestal can’t last long, fallibility has a mysterious way of exposing false saviours (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/ ).
Heroes and saviors are perfect. Heroes and saviours don’t make mistakes. Heroes and saviours are all about telling, crusading and overpowering. What a terrible metaphor to project about how safety works. Perhaps this was what Dekker was trying to say in his theology on suffering??? After all, if you keep speaking the language of salvation to people they will eventually believe it.
Interestingly, real professionals like doctors, social workers and nurses don’t use the language of ‘saving lives’. The language of ‘serving’ and ‘helping’ is professional language, not something you find much in Safety, obsessed with the projection of the title ‘professional’.
Here’s a project for you. Do a language audit of safety conferences and policies and just count the number of times the language of heroics and salvation surfaces compared to the language of listening, helping, caring and humility. Discover something? I would certainly like to hear a sensible argument about what safety method ‘saves lives’.