Selective Harm for Rio Tinto

imageImage Source

When you make your raison d’être (reason for being) the counting of injuries then one loses all perspective and vision. When you mantra is ‘zero harm’ we all know that means – ‘selective harm’ – zero vision.

Everyone in the Health, Safety, Environment and Quality (HSEQ) industry knows that zero is nonsense. This meaningless mantra that drives the global HSEQ industry ( ) is nothing but ‘smoke screen’ spin for doing what you like. We saw this with DuPont ( and now with Rio Tinto (

So knowingly destroying archaeological sites of global significance is the ‘zero-harm approach’ (!

When your mantra is zero then paper cuts and sprained ankles are amplified whilst priceless artefacts and indigenous heritage are just dirt.

It is clear that Rio Tinto just like DuPont, knew of the harm they were causing when they took action in May 2020. Then all nicely packaged with the appropriate spin of zero, Rio utters a ‘sorry’ and more spin of ‘we care for cultural heritage’ ( ). This is how Zero works!

Scholars in archaeology, cultural heritage and the Chair of UNESCO state that this action by Rio is the equivalent of Islamic State (ISIS) blowing up Palmyra (;—unesco-chair/12297884 ).

‘Zero’ is the language of binary dumb down thinking and all the tier 1 companies speak it as if somehow fallibility doesn’t exist, even their own fallibility ( ). When you make your target zero then you make yourself a big target! You target will then be used against you, both in the media and in the courts, but still the industry continues its Love of Zero (

Zero is not just a number but rather a semiotic and ideology. Zero creates a petty mindset that burrows deep down into insignificant human injury and blows it out of all proportion. Then, allows Real Risks ( ) to disappear into insignificance.

Of course, there is no comment on ‘zero’ (the global safety mantra) in the AIHS BoK on Ethics and this is most significant. Safety clearly knows how to be silent and when to be noisy. Silent on Ethics and noisy on numbers, that’s the zero way, that’s the zero approach!

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

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

Latest posts by Dr Rob Long (see all)

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.

13 Replies to “Selective Harm for Rio Tinto”

  1. I wonder what poor bugger had to take the fall for this one? At what point should someone have said: “surely this isn’t the right thing to do?”

  2. I just wonder how much of this will be discussed at the forthcoming AIHS virtual national conference with its theme of politics and power.

  3. The three-day online conference will challenge the thinking of health and safety professionals and set the agenda for exploring the impact of ‘Politics and Power’ on workplace health and safety.

    Watching looped recordings of Walker Texas Ranger, The Voice or My Kitchen Rules would be much more stimulating and at least provides some integrity.

  4. Yet another example of zero harm under the federal government DFAT Pacific Labour Mobility scheme:

    Despite industrial relations and safety legislation indentured servitude, peonage and blackbirding remain prevalent:

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below