The Bunnings Banger Bungle

The Bunnings Banger Bungle

No wonder people think that safety is the industry of stupidity. Oh, here comes the safety nerd, the dork wrapped in orgiastic delight in the myth of hyper-safety. Here comes the risk averse wrecker and fun police worried about petty pissy safety ( whilst real risk ( remains ignored. Petty pissy hyper-safety has no idea about proportionality, Due Diligence  or cultural nuance. Both are present in this silly decision made by Bunnings (; ).

If you are looking for a lack of proportionality in safety go no further than this Bunnings decision. The instruction to put onions first is now a safety hazard apparently, because hyper-safety is much more worried about slips trips and falls than actually killing people.

Of course the rhetoric of hyper-safety is that ‘safety is our number 1 priority’. This was invoked by Bunnings in this instance. Ha, of course it isn’t, it’s making money. How crazy that Safety invokes these silly mantras that mean nothing because some safety crusader is hungry for power (or less onions).

If safety was the number 1 priority they wouldn’t sell half of the dangerous cheap s*#t they stock their shelves with. I mean if safety is their number 1 priority, why are their car parks so dangerous, mixing trucks and cars with pedestrians wandering about??? If safety was their number 1 priority then why are dodgy cheap products sold as a priority??? The rhetoric of hyper-safety is absolute nonsense and the public know it. And it is clear that the nonsense language of ‘zero harm’ drives this attraction to focusing on petty pissy safety. If you want to make people hate safety, then copy this Bunnings decision and watch the toxicity rise on social media. Here are some of the social media comments that serve as an indictment of petty pissy safety:

  • How many people have died or injured slipping on onions at a Bunnings stall? Ambos must be stationed at every stall is next on the agenda.
  • Bunnings sell bubble wrap right? Lets go buy rolls of this to cover ourselves with. FFS this is beyond madness now. Why dont we serve the sauce frozen in cups cause that might fall out too. Another great example of why Australia is so messed up.
  • It’s my biggest fear when going to Bunnings, the number of onions i have tripped over… my lord, every freakin sunday….
  • What an outrage! Onion first? What’s next, cheese before the patty on a burger. OH&S gone mad #Bunnings #sausagegate #onionoppression
  • For real I thought 3.50 made up some OH&S garbage to cause outrage. This is BEYOND ridiculous.
    *goes to Bunnings to buy pitchforks*
    *stands outside Bunnings to protest, with said pitchforks*
  • I thought Bunnings sold tools. This ruling proves that they are a pack of tools. Onions first or last, when you roll up the bread it ends up in the same place. But a qualified Tradesman would be able to work that out.

bunnings onions

bunnings onionIn the strange world of lack-of-leadership-safety is a complete disconnect with cultural symbols in Australian culture. Virgin recently learned this tough lesson in cultural symbolism with its crazy idea of referencing Veterans on flights ( ). Playing the safety card against cultural symbols will never work and only demonstrates that the industry doesn’t know what culture is. Oh yes, that’s right. Its ‘what we do around here’, probably the most pathetic definition of culture that’s spoken in safety but gold for behaviourists.

Playing with the sacred sausage sizzle is a loss-sum game for Bunnings exposing hyper-safety as the new joke on the block.

It’s about time Safety stopped talking nonsense to people, safety can never be a number 1 priority as if other matters come 2nd, 3rd or 4th. The idea of prioritisation in safety spin is madness. All elements of business are a priority and if profit, HR, customer service etc isn’t of equal importance then there will be no business.

Unfortunately, hyper-safety doesn’t understand the core principle of ALARP ( ). Safety should be about proportionality not risk aversion.

Petty pissy safety is about a lack of proportionality and the public know how to smash such hypocrisy when it smells it. My god, just think of all the procedure manuals that will have to be re-written because of this catastrophic risk of onions second (

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
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.

23 Replies to “The Bunnings Banger Bungle”

  1. Next the Community Groups will have to write and have SWMS approved…madness and makes our work look ridiculous.

    Reading between the lines, I suspect that there has been an Incident where someone did slip on a bit of onion ( or claimed to) and has had a successful Claim…

  2. I work for an organisation that exists to provide independence to persons who are blind or vision impaired, if we had a “Bunnings” attitude of risk aversion we would cease to exist, because with independence comes risk, and without risk there is no sense of achievement. Every day our clients step out with nothing but a white cane or an assistance dog and with all of the risks they face through bad infrastructure design they now have to watch out for onions as well as banana peel. I hope that doesn’t mean I have to re-write my safe operating procedures for making cups of tea and boiling the kettle!

  3. I raised the subject covering independence of epidemiological health studies during a recent DNRME dust and respiratory health forum at the University of Queensland Sustainable Minerals Institute. The only notable omission from its advisory board is that wonderful mercenary malapert, Clive Palmer:

    By the time a man gets to be presidential material, he has been bought several times over – Gore Vidal

  4. Apart from providing a service which adds real value (my way of praising the work you do), this is a great example of putting quality of life above risk aversion. I love the example, and may even use it in future arguments. Please continue the good work. (When I was a student, I once played a bit too rough with a child in a wheelchair, causing her to fall out. I felt like a heal, but she thought is was her experience of the day. I certainly learned a lesson about not deciding for someone else where the fun is supposed to stop. I was more careful in future, though.)

  5. Ah, I never associate super smart with moves like this. Petty safety is about myopic thinking stuck in 1930s behaviourism framed on Heinrich and zero. Go to any Safety curriculum and there it is, the love of nonsense and delight in dumb. The most absurd thing about this myopic view is that it blindsides Safety to Real Risk. Whilst they are worried about onions I wonder how many employees are bullied and suffer psychological harm? All this does is reinforce attitudes in the mind of the public that safety is bullshit, the last thing Safety should want, but they are getting it now. Poor old Safety, unaware of by-products and trade-offs in its quest for hyper-safety. At my Bunnings we always help ourselves to the sauces and mustard we put on top, OMG that will have to stop. Just think of all the spilt sauce on the ground put their by the unsafe bumbling public!

    1. I only meant super smart as far as marketing and social media hits goes, but super dumb in thinking through the negative byproducts! I wonder how many subversives will be pulling out bits of onion and dropping them on the floor this weekend? That thought had crossed my mind……..

    1. How often do you think Safety considers the wider ramifications and riskier byproducts of its well intended knee jerks? What harm has been done to Safety’s reputation here? Do you think that cleaning rotations may be reduced because they think they have found the ultimate solution to a very low occurrence event? I can imagine many other byproducts…….how can they now stop here? What about all the other potential hazards in their stores? Have they thought about how many people may even pull onions out and drop them on the floor as a joke or in silent protest against this?

  6. We talked about this wee episode in idiocy at our morning Toolbox today
    At the very least, it has served as a good lesson to everyone NOT to put Controls in place without thinking of the wider ramifications

    Not only has there been harm done to the reputation of safety professionals, but Bunnings management isn’t exactly smelling of roses either.

    1. Excellent!! There is a big lesson for Safety here. This isn’t just about onions – People have finally found a way to express how they feel about dumb safety without fear of repercussions

  7. Can I say I am enheartened and encouraged by mwhat I read here. Not just that articles like this get airtime and not just that sane minds like Dr Rob put a loud voice the insanity of extremist safety. I am most encouraged by the number of safety professionals adding to the conversation. It is so exciting to read the quality and quantity of the comments made regarding this article and those like it. I offer my thanks and encouragement to all to keep fighting the good fight. Maybe sanity will prevail.

  8. Thanks for your support Jonathan, much appreciated.

    It’s so clear that real safety people never support this kind of hyper-safety rubbish but it is CEOs, CFOs and COOs that are seduced by the discourse of the archetype of Safety. If only they knew just how much they discredit real risk by what they say and the policies they try to implement. Unfortunately, it is these people who dictate the discourse too of the peak bodies and regulator, who collectively demonstrate just how out of touch with the real world of safety. Just look at what is presented at safety conferences these days, no wonder noone goes. What is more, the peaks etc don’t want to know what they don’t know because their arrogance and power close off any chance of learning and maturity. In my 15 years in the sector I have never been contacted once by any regulator with a question about what I do.

    Meanwhile, away from the fortress of dumb lies a whole group of people who know that on the shop floor and in the field, the average worker knows that this discourse and dumb-speak is an indictment of a lack of leadership in risk.

    1. I was initially delighted by the reaction to this initiative. It seemed that people could finally express their disdain without fear of reprisal. However, the safety crusaders on LinkedIn have now chimed in to support the lunacy – their worldview is so small and they just don’t get that this is about so much more than a few silly onions

  9. Linkedin is the forum for the pooling of ignorance provoked through the mis-education by the safety curriculum in non-learning. Afterall, safety people are trained in non-professionalism attached to this 1930s education and only a few escape this indoctrination.

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