Transdisciplinary Thinking in Risk and Safety

Transdisciplinary Thinking in Risk and Safety

Why is it that Safety interprets difference as competition? Well that’s because diversity and bricolage are a threat to the binary worldview. When we look at the differing schools of thought in risk and safety previously published here: https://safetyrisk.net/a-great-comparison-of-risk-and-safety-schools-of-thought/ and illustrated below (click for larger image). We need not interpret such a table competitively but rather comparatively. No one school of thought holds all the truth including SPoR but rather a perspective within the diversity of knowledge about risk. Each one of these schools of thought is founded on a single anthropocentric ideology and assumes much about the nature of humans and culture. The purpose of the table is to illustrate not the exclusion of schools of thought but the need for diversity in schools of thought particularly in relation to context. What each school of thought ought to do is shine a comparative light on the temptation of humans to fall into distortions on one-only view. This is what is meant by the transdisciplinary approach and much needed in the WHS curriculum (https://safetyrisk.net/isnt-it-time-we-reformed-the-whs-curriculum/).

schools of thought safety

Click on image to enlarge

Unfortunately the WHS curriculum has been significantly lopsided since its inception towards STEM (Science , Technology, Engineering and Maths) knowledge and all the weaknesses of a positivist-only approach to understanding humans and risk. It is from this view that safety has ended up in the quagmire of zero harm and the denial of fallibility.

What the WHS curriculum needs more than ever is healthy debate on a transdisciplinary basis and a transdisciplinary approach to a Body of Knowledge. Unfortunately this is not the case. The large corporations that sponsor safety have invested so much in the binary worldview that it is unlikely there will be any opening up of debate soon. Even when debate is claimed it is from the same old culprits and same STEM discourse. It is so funny watching the zero debate come up periodically and the stage is populated with people who have no understanding at all of semiosis, semiotics in culture, the unconscious, social politics and social psychology. And, when the nonsense of zero gets too loud, just claim to be ‘agnostic’ (https://safetyrisk.net/sia-has-a-bet-each-way-on-zero/). That way nothing changes.

Unfortunately, the SIA BoK remains lopsided in weight to 75% STEM knowledge in its content. People are still coming out of RTOs and Universities indoctrinated with pyramids, curves and causality that are pure fiction. Is it any wonder then that the World Congress on Safety is then imbued with all the nonsense ideology of zero? How strange to define the nature of human status numerically? How interesting that the whole nature of human social reality is denied by the WHS curriculum? That there is currently no published ‘ethic of safety’ (https://safetyrisk.net/professional-challenges-for-the-safety-industry/ )? And then the industry wishes to claim the title ‘professional’ (https://safetyrisk.net/the-mis-naming-of-safety-as-a-profession/  ) without anything like the diversity of knowledge required to be a profession. As long as the industry remains insular and in siloes it will never grow up and move beyond the ideology of perfectionism and absolutes.

Dr Rob Long

Dr Rob Long

Expert in Social Psychology, Principal & Trainer at Human Dymensions
Dr Rob Long

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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.

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