Ummm, More Dumb Safety
In the good old tradition of safety irrelevance, we have one more furry icon to add to the repertoire of Meerkats, broken eggs, pickles, hazardmen, sexy sophie, mum’s for safety and a host of dumb ideas cajoled into the marketing of safety (https://safetyrisk.net/meerkat-safety-can-it-get-more-dumb/ ). The latest is from Worksafe Victoria
Here we have a new mascot for dumb called ‘umm’.
Umm is apparently the feeling young people get when confronted with unsafe work. Umm is that word that describes a lack of common sense, do the right thing and be careful. ‘Umms is that word for doubt in an industry that demonises doubt.
When will safety stop going to marketing companies for ideas on how to deal with issues of risk?
Of course, young people would never anchor to a kid’s fluffy toy nor is the feeling of doubt or uncertainty expressed as ‘umm’. As long as Safety flocks to all these silly marketing ideas, it will never be taken seriously or be professional.
Of course, the focus of this campaign gets off to the wrong start. Everything is anchored back to health and safety laws. Further ‘As a part of this duty, employers must provide the necessary information, instruction, and training and supervision to enable you to do your job safely’.
Yes, there it is, good olde duty, that wonderful safety non-ethic that indoctrinates everyone to blind compliance and submission to authority, the perfect ethic to subdue young people into obedience and ‘don’t speak up’. As long as Safety maintains this silly non-ethic it will always be do your duty and ‘check your gut’ (https://safetyrisk.net/the-aihs-bok-and-ethics-check-your-gut/ ). ‘Check your gut’ is the cousin of carefulness, common sense and do the right thing!
All these three are meaningless safety beliefs that make the workplace more dangerous. (https://safetyrisk.net/common-safety-beliefs-surfaced-in-miprofile-survey/ )
So, we have health and safety laws, a children’s fluffy doll and duty and this is going to somehow connect with young people who are bullied at work, patronised by an authoritarian objects-focused safety industry and a masculinist industry that ensures the real message is ‘have a cup of concrete and harden the f*ck up princess’.
If there’ one thing Safety does well, it always gets the messaging wrong.
If you want to get messaging right (https://safetyrisk.net/congruence-in-messaging-in-safety/; https://safetyrisk.net/all-that-you-dont-see-in-messaging/ ) you’d need some study in: linguistics, semiotics, poetics, critical discourse analysis and visual thinking (https://safetyrisk.net/visual-learning-and-envisioning-risk/ ). All things that Safety ensures are never in the curriculum. Then to top it off, make sure you make ethics and morality the same thing bundled up with a complete ignorance about politics. A wonderful recipe to make sure nothing changes.
When your god is zero and your method is engineering, no fluffy doll or Worksafe handout will make a dent in a culture that turns bullying into an art form. Indeed, wasn’t it Worksafe that had the history of bullying?
What we have in this campaign is just more spin, a kiddies doll and more ‘telling’. Yes, and don’t forget young people, you are free to speak up anytime we run the next safety blitz.
Anti-dobbing culture will make sure none of that happens.
And how does this promotion finish? You bet, more legal responsibilities to ‘take care’ (meaningless), cooperate with your employer (read duty) and don’t be reckless (I kid you not).
None of this connects with young people. Giving and telling such information never makes a dent in culture change, especially when you don’t define culture well.
Of course, none of this material includes any context about young people, the way they think or their culture. So that’s the negative stuff, here is what Worksafe could have done:
- There is nothing in any of this campaign about understanding young people or youth culture. This is where keeping young people safe should start.
- There is no language or symbology that resonates with young people.
- There is nothing in this campaign about fear or anxiety, the foundational characteristics of inexperience and youthful confidence!
- Wouldn’t it be handy if Safety ever took a Transdisciplinary approach and sought expertise in the youth sector? Hmmm, not Safety, we know everything.
- Just imagine if Safety had a chat to a sociologist of youth culture (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1440783320936739 ). Just imagine if Safety could look outside of itself and started to gaze outside of its own belly button.
Just read classic stuff like this ‘When young workers know that health and safety is important in the workplace, they are more likely to follow safety procedures, raise issues and promote a culture that keeps everyone safe.’ This is the kind of stuff that make me want to puke. This campaign is not about young people at all.
So, be obedient you little sausages, compliance, duty, ‘check your gut’ and do the right thing and, don’t forget to take your dolly umm to bed by 7pm, I’ll come in soon to tuck you in safely.
Well done Rob
It’s kind of ironic the safety practitioner (and many other ‘professions’) must sign and declare some kind of Code of Ethics. Yet so often and quickly forgets it in exchange for Duty; as if an aspiring Abraham… willing to sacrifice Isaac if need be.
Rob Long says
Dallas, Safety seems to do irony best of all. It is because its locked in its own bubble and doesn’t want to learn anything of a Transdisciplinary nature that it so easily projects unethical stuff as ethical. So, when Safety has a problem it doesn’t know what to do, so it goes to a marketting aganecy who know nothing of safety and then spend a fortune on a marketting campaign that semiotically makes everything worse. How clever.
Brian Edwin Darlington says
Rob, I agree how crazy we can get – treating adults like children using childlike mascots. Maybe unknown to some meerkats can be aggressive and deliver a really nasty bite. Meercats could approach humans and bite them. The females are known to eat pups of other families. Maybe not what we want in risk and safety.
Rob long says
Safety is that industry that keeps giving. And will do so as long as it maintains zero and a pathetic curriculum that dumbs down people.