Shared Ritual in the Safety Congregation?
When anything involves salvation there is ritual.
This is the energy of Zero. Follow these procedures, habits, practices, myths or routine enactments and thou shalt be saved (https://safetyrisk.net/practice-repetition-habit-routine-ritual-and-decision-making-in-risk/ ).
Those who enact agreed safety rituals enter into a mystical unconscious force that gives assurance through symbol. As long as the symbols are in place and we complete them as ritual, all is well and all is certain.
Many of the unthinking rituals of safety are embodied heuristics that have been invested with salvic power. This is why so many enactments made common practice in safety cannot be disposed of. If you want to find out just how powerful ritual is in your organization just suggest ditching the risk matrix and see what happens. Suggest doing a risk assessment or toolbox in a different method and see just how strongly people are anchored to the sacredness of an untouchable ritual.
A ritual makes an act symbolically true. The feeling of salvation is experienced in every performance. This is why people are so surprised when after signing a ritual SWMS that something goes wrong. How could this be? This is why when that coloured matrix appears in the corner of the paperwork and we go through the mumbo jumbo of residual risk or nonsense language of ‘risk appetite’ people ‘feel’ assured. It’s all about the feeling of certainty created in the enactment of symbol and endorsement of myth.
Efficaciousness in ritual/symbol/myth is attributed. Whilst there is nothing necessarily wrong with ritual, it is often what is attributed to it that is the problem. When we attribute salvic power to ritual enactments we are on a trajectory to a crash with reality. Nothing so much blows the wind out of the sails of Safety’s attributed rituals than a Court that blows apart the construction of fake efficaciousness.
I have written about ritual before:
What are some common safety rituals?
This is the naïve belief that if you send something into ‘reset’ something will change, when it doesn’t. Resets in safety are about the branding of reset, not about actual change. As long as the salvic appeal is to the engineering worldview to save, nothing will change.
- Incantation: ‘safety is a choice you make’, ‘all accidents are preventable’ (https://safetyrisk.net/why-safety-isnt-a-choice-you-make/ )
The repetition of mythic mantras is common in the safety cult but invokes no change. The repetition of mantras and myths like ‘zero harm’ don’t change anything but Safety feels so good repeating such mantras.
Nothing blows the wind out of safety myths like a Court that demonstrates the ineffectiveness of SWMS and paperwork (https://safetyrisk.net/paper-safe/ ). When the ritual is the production of more paper as efficacious you can be sure nothing can change.
- Counting injury rates: (https://safetyrisk.net/injury-rates-and-the-danger-of-eating-sultanas/ )
There is perhaps no greater ritual in safety than recording and reporting TRIFR and LTIs when neither represent safety. Yet, this is enacted each month under the delusion that if safety does it often enough something will change.
The main purpose of ritual is to embody belief so that nothing will change. This is how all religions construct political economy. Any questioning of ritual or even suggesting that safety enactments are rituals invokes political backlash and opposition. Rituals (that don’t work) are invested with extraordinary political power so that their myths and symbols are concreted in belief and immovability in their enactment. Re-enactment of shared ritual is how Safety identifies membership of the congregation.