Zero Harm Means Zero Growth
News out today that an underground mine employee had his case for unfair dismissal denied by the Fair Work Commission. He refused to shave his goatee beard so that he could effectively wear a half face respirator to ensure he was protected from silica dust and the recently declared carcinogen, diesel particulate matter (DPM). The Commission found that the employer had every right to insist upon this due to the potential hazards in the mine – he had been driving trucks underground in this mine for over 5 years before this policy was introduced.
The employee told the Commission that his employer had failed to consider his offer to pay for and provide his own positive air pressure respirator (PAPR), which could operate without sealing against his face. He also argued that the zero growth policy wasn’t valid because workers were consulted on it, as required under the WHS Act.
We tried to speak to the person responsible for developing and policing this policy, WHSEQP&Z Manager, Norm Spud (pictured) – brother of colourful Safety Crusader Barry Spud. We were particularly interested to find out why it seems somewhat contradictory that he is still sporting a full beard.? But, he refused our request for an interview and sent us the following points in a message from his LinkedIn account:
- We have Zero culture around here. Zero Harm means Zero Growth for our company and its workers. Nobody reports injuries around here – not by the hair on my chinny chin chin.
- What do you think the Z in “ZZ Top” really stands for? Zero!
- I’m the WHSEQP&Z Manager and I say what’s safe, how we do safety and who has to do safety. I know safety, I know the Act, I know hazards and I know how to avoid harm, PPE is the last resort, everybody knows that.
- I need to have a beard for safety reasons – It is required under The Act.
- I didn’t like my beard at first but then it just grew on me.
- As a passionate safety zealot I have had some hairy moments but take it all on the chin.
- Our CEO recently developed our 10 Commandments of Safety. He had them carved in stone and our marketing people, for some reason, selected me to carry them from Head Office down to the people. Zero Harm is our religion.
- Every good safety person knows the virtues of Heinrich and his Pyramid and it definitely applies in this case: “For every 1000 close shaves there has to be one serious beard”
- In the war against harm I am a warrior for safety. Safety needs military language and strong leaders. Nothing says strength, aggression, power, maturity, masculinity, dominance and intimidation more than a beard. We all know what happened to Samson when his beard was shaved off. We can’t have namby pamby, emasculated, caring and sharing, naked faced, empathetic types in safety – its not about people!
- Safety is about communication, people must do what I tell them to do, I can’t have people second guessing my true agendas by reading my facial expressions.
- Safety is No1 priority and must be kept separate from other initiatives and systems, I need to be seen to be different to everybody else.
- If I were to shave then between the ages of 15 and 55 I would have wasted 3536 hours – Do you know how many safety slogans I could write in that time?
- As my brother Barry always says “Safety is 80% compliance, 25% common-sense and the rest is facial hair and good luck – simple”!
I moustache him a lot more questions but I’ll shave them for later!