Safety Stole My Freedoms
There’s a lot of simplistic stuff in relation to Covid19 about ‘rights’, ‘freedoms’ and ‘personal liberties’ ( Protests have been criminalised under COVID. What is incitement? How is it being used in the pandemic? ) One thing is for sure, when you hear simplistic binary language about rights and wrongs, black and white in safety you can be sure it’s wrong and probably dangerous.
One of the most difficult things for Safety to get a hold of is the challenge of wicked problems, unsolvable problems, uncontrollable problems and dialectic (https://safetyrisk.net/risk-and-safety-as-a-wicked-problem/). The idea that any binary question or idea can be a useful proposition in risk is simply nonsense. The dumb down question that assumes injury is an indicator of safety by asking ‘how many people do you want killed today?’ must be totally rejected.
All thinking about risk and safety needs to start with fallible humans in a random world and imperfect systems for which no binary framework can be applied.
If you haven’t worked out yet that Covid19 is a wicked problem then you will probably think Covid is a Behaviourist problem.
- Managing COVID-19 as a Super Wicked Problem: Lessons from, and for, the Climate Crisis
- COVID, the wicked problem too big for medical experts alone to tackle
When we accept that all actions have by-products and trade-offs there can never be a simple black and white binary approach and most often there are no ‘solutions’ and ‘fixes’. Yes, you may have a belief in individual liberty but you don’t have the right to spread the virus and kill me as a by-product of your individualism. So, you can stand up and chant protests all you like but if that leads to my death, I’m equally as right to seek my individual liberty in return.
The foundation of ethics is not just the foundation of professionalism but also the foundation for living in community and Socialitie. You don’t read about any of this in the AIHS BoK indeed, the BoK tells Safety that it has the right to dominate the rights of others if a safety person deems a situation unsafe (p.41). Indeed, this section of the BoK chapter tells safety people they have a ‘duty’ to override the freedoms of others in the name of safety! No, you can’t just do what you like to me just because you deem the situation unsafe!
Of course, this is why the BoK on Ethics is not an Ethic of Risk and why its simplistic deontological message is an unethical message. The AIHS Bok on Ethics is simplistic nonsense and omits dozens of critical complex ethical factors in its framework and in many ways is fundamentally dishonest and unhelpful (https://safetyrisk.net/the-aihs-bok-and-ethics-check-your-gut/ ).
The question of freedoms and liberties can only stand in dialectic with responsibilities and accountabilities. Without a social ethic, there is no ethic. Furthermore, governance and leadership are situated in this dialectical ethic and its challenging movement. Safety needs to embrace a very different body of knowledge in ethics and learning if it ever wants to be professional.