Tackling the Reality of Harm


‘Cursed is the ground because of you;
through painful toil you will eat food from it
all the days of your life’. Genesis 3:17

imageHow Safety defines hurt or harm is a huge issue for the industry. The monster of injury statistics now defined as safety has created a circus of linguistic gymnastics and an absurd cacophony of noise about nothing. When numbers define safety then numerics define people. The recent publication of the ACTU ‘Work Shouldn’t Hurt’ report illustrates this.

The truth of the fact is ‘work will hurt’. Humans are vulnerable fallible beings and any action, including exercise hurts. In work we strain, stretch, move and stress and all of this results in entropy of our bodies and strain on our being in workspace, headspace and groupspace. This is why we give our labour in exchange for money. The acceptance of harm and suffering is foundational to being human.

Unfortunately, safety talks the non-sense of zero harm framed by this absurd denial of fallibility (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/) and the delusional belief in no harm attributed to numbers. Of course, there can never be no harm and no denial of fallibility can make it so. What often results in all this gymnastics with language is the most absurd fixation on selective counting. The many ways that we harm ourselves at work simply are not counted. Numerics can never represent safety.

It is because Educationalists and parents acknowledge harm that they focus on learning and resilience. Education, learning professionals and parents know that learning implies risk and harm. No educational professional or parent should spruik the language of zero, there is only stasis in zero, perfection and absolutes. In the real world of learning the key is resilience, maturation and wisdom not denial. In Education when one fails the world doesn’t end, when one falls over the world doesn’t end. No Spanish Inquisition is needed in education for the outcome of fallibility. If one is a real professional, then one knows that harm is essential to human living. The real challenge is how one develops resilience in the face of vulnerability and harm. And there is no such thing as Resilience Engineering, ah! more nonsense language from Safety.

There is hardly a visit from our grandkids to our home without something happening. Bumps, falls and harm are essential to learning to walk and we have two who are just learning to walk now. We also have another grandchild learning to ride a bike and another learning gymnastics. In one way or another they have all been harmed this weekend. Does that make us bad grandparents? Statistics for harm in our place are currently 100%. The focus in our place is not on the bump and fall but rather on the getting up and going again. We don’t talk childish language to our kids about no harm. We don’t create false expectations about life and living. Just imagine how immature growth would be if you told kids they shouldn’t be harmed. How crazy that we talk such language at work.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

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

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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.

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