The Safety Silver Bullet
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The idea of finding a silver bullet is that there is a perfect solution to a problem. It’s a simple idea that comes from binary absolute thinking. Such thinking is very common in safety and proposes that there are only two alternatives to things, success or failure, black or white and 1 or zero.
Searching for a safety silver bullet says much about one’s binary worldview and the need for security in the face of risk.
I was reminded of silver bullets this week when I stumbled across a silver bullet sold in a craft shop, see Figure 1. Silver Bullet.
Figure 1. Silver Bullet.
What a great semiotic that should sit on every safety shelf to remind us that the concept is a fiction.
I get astounded at the number of organisations that pay a fortune for safety silver bullets that of course do not exist. One of the best ways to make a fortune in safety is to brand a safety program as something ‘zero’ and it will sell like hot cakes. I knew of an organization last year that paid over $8 million for such a zero training program with promises of reduced injury rates etc. The only real outcome of such programs is a reduction in a bank account.
Of course, on the same safety shelf should sit a little brown bottle called ‘snake oil’ and an empty box called ‘common sense’.
It’s amazing how gullible and naïve executives are about silver bullets, snake oil and common sense. None of these exist but you can make a fortune selling their existence.
Isn’t it a strange industry where executives don’t believe in the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus search for silver bullets and buy snake oil like there is no tomorrow. What a lucrative opportunity in a safety market characterized by dumb. This is the market that has such poor training and education that one sells silver bullets and snake oil on every safety corner.
Will 2021 be the year when the AIHS Body of Knowledge and safety curriculum will somewhere or somehow develop a thirst for critical thinking? Will this be the year when Safety will stop singing the delusional zero song and drop it from the hymn sheet? Could this be the year when Safety might turn away from brutalism to a humanized approach to tackling risk? Will 2021 be the year when Safety will finally get the idea that risk is a wicked problem? Probably not. In which case you can buy your silver bullet here: https://www.fiddlestix.com.au/products/the-silver-bullet-bottle-opener-metal-keyring-gift-box