Silence, Power and an Ethic of Risk
If you see, listen or watch nothing else this week, make sure you catch the Press Club Address of Grace Tame, Australian of the Year
Grace so ably articulates the foundations of morality and ethics, in this inspiring address (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e4BErJDLhD0 ).
The place to start in any understanding of ethics and morality is an understanding of power and silence. Neither of these critical foundations is considered in the AIHS Body of Knowledge (BoK) Chapter on Ethics (https://www.ohsbok.org.au/chapter-38-3-ethics-and-professional-practice/ ). Indeed, the silence on the nature of power in the Chapter is itself and indictment of its naivety, immaturity and ignorance.
One of the best ways to discover the nature of the AIHS Body of Knowledge (BoK) on Ethics is to look at what it is silent about. This is how you groom a population to believe the nonsense of: duty, ‘check your gut’ and ‘do the right thing’, all woolly meaningless rhetoric to ensure that the elephant in the room; silence and power remain unspoken.
Silence is a form of hiding, and the power of silence is the perpetrator’s best tool for grooming. Grooming is a gradual form of set up, like gaslighting a victim who doesn’t know they are being exploited (https://safetyrisk.net/the-scars-and-harm-you-dont-see-and-cant-count/ ).
Isn’t it strange in an industry that seeks to promote professional practice and protection of persons, that it is silent on: personhood, power and silence. How strange to publish a document that espouses ethics, when it confuses morality and ethics, and remains silent on the most critical element of ethics. If the AIHS BoK Chapter on ethics achieves anything, it is the grooming of an industry to accept this pathetic document as authoritative on ethics.
The best way to give power to perpetrators and the powerful, is to be silent about power. In this way too, the politics of power is also kept silent under the naïve nonsense of objectivity and impartiality, all wonderfully presented in the AIHS Code of Ethics (https://www.aihs.org.au/sites/default/files/20200517%20AIHS%20Code%20of%20Ethics_editable.pdf). This is the same code of ethics that omits mention of the concepts of: power, politics, silence and persons, the foundations of ethics.
Of course the great silence in the AIHS BoK Chapter of Ethics is the notion of zero, the global mantra for brutalism in the industry, ‘front and centre’ for the next world congress for safety (http://visionzero.global/events-and-trainings ). If you want to know the ethic of an organization look for what they are silent about and then look for denial.
The best way to give power to this mantra of zero, is to be silent about it. Let’s have no conversation about zero, its semiotic power, its cultural power or its political and ideological power, and yet put up some smoke screen about respect, trust and honesty.
The zero harm survey (https://safetyrisk.net/take-the-zero-survey/) demonstrates clearly that practitioners in the safety industry think zero is fundamentally unethical and fosters dishonesty. How does that stand against this code of ethics? When you don’t know how to articulate an ethic of risk, you will come up with this kind of nonsense.
So, if you want to know about ethics, morality, a code of ethics or an ethic, it cannot be found in safety’s BoK, what you do find there is silence about power and power in such silence. Instead, start by listening to Grace Tame and her story of how power and silence are the tools for unethical abuse. And as Grace will tell you, this is the power of cover up (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOQq4HPpHPk ).