The Big Safety NON-Debate
I read with amusement some claim to a ‘big debate’ in safety between Safety 1 (S1) and Safety 2 (S2) in the pages of an IOSH Magazine (https://www.ioshmagazine.com/2020/09/09/big-debate-safety-differently).
The Discourse in this article is fascinating for analysis . Discourse Analysis is something completely outside of the thinking of either S1 or S2 as is any discussion of hermeneutics (theories of interpretation), semiotics or social politics. So much for ‘differently’ (https://monoskop.org/images/8/84/Derrida_Jacques_Writing_and_Difference_1978.pdf ; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diff%C3%A9rance ).
Discourse with an Uppercase ‘D’ is very different from discourse with a lowercase ‘d’. Discourse is about the power and social politics in language whilst discourse is about everyday language-in-use. You can read further in the difference between Discourse and discourse here: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/The-idea-of-discourse-in-poststructuralism%3A-Lacan-Rasi%C5%84ski/936e90716ef93cd120365b79af9b6567923168db?p2df
Discourse is hidden in everyday text and most people are not aware of how text is loaded with social politics. There is no such thing as neutral objective text especially in Engineering, Science, and safety. So when we read an article like this, those with a background in Social Politics and Social Psychology read the discourse and the Discourse. We study this kind of Differance in the Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR) (https://safetyrisk.net/the-rhizome-as-a-learning-model-for-risk/; https://cllr.com.au/product/an-introduction-to-the-social-psychology-of-risk-unit-1-free-online-module/ ).
So, now that we have this sorted one might understand the following analysis of this so called ‘debate’.
The key to analysis in this article is the undisclosed Discourse of binary opposition. Of course, the article starts with a binary question suggesting some cession of control in tackling risk. The question posed is: Should companies cease to manage safety, ceding all control of it to the workforce? Such a heavily loaded binary question. This is the kind of question BBS and zero people love, questions of entrapment. As far as I am aware, no one in either S1 or S2 are at odds about caring for, wishing for and helping people to be safe. Such is the nature of a concocted debate about pretty much nothing, zero. I wrote about this binary problem recently here: https://safetyrisk.net/safety-lover-or-safety-hater/
So you will provoke a debate whenever you base your worldview on a binary ideology.
Then the article provides its own answer to the loaded question and thereby sets up the fake debate. Of course, the purpose of such fake debates is to draw in social political reaction and so establish power of one view over another. This is the problem with the language of safety differently, safety 2 etc. The language of S2 etc is also binary and creates binary opposition. So in this sense S1 and S2 both agree on binary opposition in Discourse. So in a Discourse sense there is no difference.
When one explores the wishes of S2 through its slogans its quite straight forward about a wish to humanize people more in the activity of tackling risk and safety. Interestingly, you won’t find in S1 anyone who sets out to intentionally dehumanize people either. Both S1 and S2 perhaps need to explore more the by-products of their focus on systems and objects and their Discourse. When we analyze the Discourse of both S1 and S2 they both focus on systems, Engineering and measurement. The language of both S1 and S2 are on mechanics and numeric especially with developments such as FRAM, HoP and resilience engineering (sic).
Interestingly, the legislation and regulation of WHS demands a shared approach to tackling risk (https://vimeo.com/166158437 ). This is the intent of the law regardless of whether one is S1 and S2. So the idea of pitching workers against professionals or workers against management is also a divisiveness inherent in binary opposition.
So, in Discourse Analysis I haven’t even ventured past paragraph one and I find that both S1 and S2 agree on binary opposition, Discourse and numerics in worldview. Where is the debate?
In SPoR we read articles such as this and look for the dialectic, that point of differance (Derrida) and position where ‘meeting’ can be found in Discourse. From a Transdisciplinary paradigm (https://safetyrisk.net/transdisciplinary-safety/ ) I can’t see the difference.