The De-Ethicization of the Object in Safety
It’s obvious that objects attack people. When anything happens in an industry, the first response is to ban the object. That naughty object jumped out from nowhere and attacked me.
So, it’s because objects attack people that we need to register as many objects as we can on a hazard (objects) register, that way by registering objects we will know which ones to ban should one attack someone. This is the ethic of the mechanization of safety that proudly registers thousands of objects as if that registration is an educative process. What is most worrying about the life of these objects is how they think and behave. We need a new ethic to manage these objects that seem to think for themselves and attack people. An ethic is the sytemetisation of values and morals, a collection of common values usually assembled in the form of a code or agreed policy.
Of course, the more objects registered obviously demonstrates the highest diligence in safety, similar to the lowest registration of numbers demonstrates the highest diligence in safety. Therefore, the workplace with the lowest register of objects must be the safest workplace to be. So, the only way to get to zero must be to ban the most objects.
However, the trouble with banned objects is the by-product and trade-offs associated with bannings. Just when you thought a banned object would solve a problem, up jumps another as a by-product of the first banning. It’s like dangerous energy is passed from object to object in a conspiracy against humans. Then when the work gets too costly or too difficult using a replacement object, the old object comes up in another form and someone gets injured. I wish we could ban all objects at work and then no one would get injured.
Another problem with these objects is the way they ignore culture and the processes of organizing. If these objects could only read the code of practice and obey it, no one would get hurt at work. If these objects could be taught how to think about what they do we might get to zero. Fallible objects, that’s the problem.
We should teach these fallible objects that ‘safety is a choice they make’ and that ‘all accidents are preventable’. Perhaps we should improve the objects induction in our organisations so they don’t go rogue on us. Maybe we should register all objects that can be dropped and calculate just how bad they might injure someone. What a great idea, a dropped objects register, now there’s an educative ethic – counting and registering objects that could hurt people.
Obviously, the pathway to wisdom and maturity is the de-ethicisation of the object.