I came across this Safety ‘goop’ a few weeks ago that serves as a good example of the nature of indoctrination in this industry (https://www.qmihsconference.org.au/wp-content/uploads/qmihsc-2008-writtenpaper-reynoldson.pdf).
One of the most reliable things in safety and characteristic of its culture is a guarantee that whatever it claims the opposite is true. This is the safety code (https://safetyrisk.net/deciphering-safety-code/ ).
What a metaphor to access in trying to praise this industry of brutalism. Of course, if you want to toxify the kiss, just anchor it to Safety Management Plans (SMS).
This KISS is not anchored to the basics of safety: people, care, helping and listening no, once again it’s all about systems, controls and spin.
Typical of ‘Safety speak’ are the usual gems thrown in, especially ‘desired culture’. Of course, this is not about culture, Safety doesn’t even know what it is. This is evidenced by all its silences (https://safetyrisk.net/category/safety-culture-silences/).
The key to understanding this KISS is NOT to listen to the ‘noise’ of safety but rather to its silences. This KISS is the kiss of death.
The paper on SHMS is full of all the same old safety linguistic favourites and omits talk of any of the essentials of safety. It’s a sure giveaway when it declares that Health is an ‘appendage’ to safety. How fascinating how this sits with the recent standard ISO 45003 on Psychosocial and Mental Health.
I know, how can we focus on the whole person? By making Health an ‘appendage’ – Brilliant!
Roll up, roll up in Psychosocial and Mental Health, and get your appendectomy here!
And here is the critical question from the paper:
‘But are the various SHMS helping the Zero Harm objectives?’
Such a question is the KISS of death to any humanising approach to safety.
By the time we get to page 4 of the document we’ve been ‘KISSED’ – complete with tables on SHMS with no mention of: persons, care, helping, ethics, listening, understanding, politics, meaning or purpose, perception, motivation or values.
Nup, the language of safety is all about: inspections, audits, responsibilities, emergency management, incidents and systems.
And what a classic, even ‘consultation’ is described as risk registers, SoPs, risk assessments, fitness for work and hazards. Ah yes, god bless hazards.
Then at the bottom of page 5 we learn who has given this kiss of death – DuPont! Wonderful, and they do it so well (https://safetyrisk.net/dark-waters-the-true-story-of-dupont-and-zero/). I bet they even slip the tongue in.
Ah yes, you get ‘KISSED’ by auditing, that’s ‘leadership’.
The paper then asks the question – So, what is the ‘effect’ of being ‘kissed’?
You guessed it, meeting statutory requirements and ‘zero harm outcomes’. And we know what that means, code for brutalism.
By the time we get to the puzzle on page 6 still no mention of persons, care or helping. But as a bonus KISS we get James Reason (https://safetyrisk.net/no-good-reason-to-follow-reason/ ), Swiss Cheese and nonsense semiotics.
The KISS concludes with a second Swiss Cheese (just in case you missed the first one) reinforcing all the safety favourites. The final chaser for the KISS is eight points, none of which mention people, care, ethics or helping.
Just imagine launching a Psychosocial and Mental Health focus in this mode of organising.
Just imagine being a worker in a zero organisation and learning very quickly NOT to speak up, NOT to care about people but how to count hazards and brutalise others in the name of good.
If you want to avoid the kiss of death and experience a new way of tackling risk that is ethical, humanising, positive and constructive then, sign up for the free module on Ethics that is fast approaching. Simply write to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in the list.
The workshop on culture is full and has commenced, you can read about the free Ethics module here: https://safetyrisk.net/free-online-workshops/
Brian Edwin Darlington says
Hi Rob, things at time seem to get from bad to worse in the safety industry. It is crazy !!! When will people wake up and stop selling and preaching this nonsense.
Rob Long says
Brian, there will be no change until the beatings improve.
Brent Charlton says
Just like many “mega churches,” so long as there’s a dollar to be made off the vulnerable.