Safety, Risk and Art

Safety, Risk and Art

imageMy younger sister is an extremely talented artist, as well as being the owner of a successful graphic design company and mother to two of the cutest kids you will meet. She is currently working on a new header for this blog and I cant wait to see it. For a few years now she has been focussed on the business side of art and bringing up her children. A little while ago she told me that she was sad about letting the creative side of her talent slide. Our whole family has been encouraging her to resurrect her creativity and draw some more for her own pleasure. She is now illustrating children’s books and has just entered into a competition called the “52 week illustration challenge” where each week there is a theme and artists submit their drawings of their interpretation of the theme. This is her entry for this week and she has been shortlisted several times already – see the competition Facebook page

Ok, some of you may be wondering why I haven’t mentioned safety or risk yet so I will now. Recently Rob Long published “Safety is an Art” in which he said:

Safety has much more to do with Art, History and Philosophy than it has to do with Science, Engineering and Law. I recently wrote The Target Drives the Method about the subjectivity of determining ‘significance’ that is a precursor to this discussion. Despite the perception that so many in safety believe that injury data is objective and communicates ‘significance’, in reality it is a philosophical position that determines or ‘attributes’ significance. Safety is an ‘art’ because it communicates something beyond itself.

I also love to experience architecture as art, so much is communicated and learned in spacial and visual experience. Art and architecture are as ancient as civilization itself, they are the rudimentary expression of something more than oneself. As we observe art and architecture we focus much more on relationships, meaning, significance and social expression, when we focus on zero the focus is individualism and counting.

I didn’t think much about it when I read this article and admit to having no real appreciation for art, particularly the deep or obscure stuff. But, seeing my sister’s creations has made me reflect a little and go back and reread Rob’s article with a much more open mind. I remembered that I used to be able to draw quite well as a child but never pursued it – that has just become one of my regrets Sad smile

Rob Sams wrote recently along the same lines as the other Rob when he reflected on his recent trip to an art gallery (See Who Decides What is Ugly). Rob says:

When I viewed art as just paint on a canvas, I could not see and feel what the artist was trying to portray. I liken this to how we can often ‘look’ and ‘observe’ in risk and safety. When we only look through the lens of a checklist or legislation, we also don’t ‘see and feel’ what is happening. We simply can’t because ‘safety’ is not about ‘feeling’, it’s about right and wrong, that’s what the system dictates.

So there are two great stories about the appreciation of art, feeling what is happening and being creative being much more effective in safety than counting and systems. I have heard many say that perhaps we should encourage those from creative professions, such as artists and musicians, or from caring professions such as nursing, to join the safety profession which does seem dominated by engineers, technicians and statisticians? THOUGHTS?

imageI can’t end this article without mentioning SJ the Safety Nerd from Riskology. Sarah Jane (pictured) is a devoted, passionate safety person, author on this blog and, perhaps more importantly, a talented artist and runs a small creative business called “Paint My Ride” – see her Facebook Page.

Soooo, lots of questions:

  1. What is the relationship between art and safety and risk?

  2. How can we get more creative or arty in safety and risk?

  3. Do creative people make good safety people?

  4. Are there any safety people out there with a hidden talent you would like to tell us about and have you ever applied it in your work?

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below