Zero Plus Infinity Times 10 = ?
Following Dr Rob Long’s recent article Semiotics and Safety about the mindless gobbledygook that is terms like “Beyond Zero” and “Target Zero”, and the negative subconscious meanings they prime, a very despondent safety person sent us this photo. Is it any wonder many are saying – I‘m Just Not That Into Safety Anymore?.
Even switching to conscious thoughts what the hell does this slogan mean? What are his work mates or people on the street going to think when they are walking behind him?
- Plus what?
- More than zero accidents?
- Go home in better shape than when you arrived?
- If I don’t get hurt I get a bonus?
- If I do get hurt I better not tell anyone?
- Harm is OK if it wasn’t an accident?
- Words like Zero and Accident sound better if you add a positive?
- Zero is behind us now?
- This is way better than any other Zero slogan?
NB: If somebody knows where this slogan is in use and wants to tell us a positive story about it and how it works then they are most welcome to comment below.
As if Zero Harm wasn’t good enough, are safety consultants and Execs now all trying to get the one up on each other in the slogan race? This has become like a school yard argument – “I’m safer than you plus infinity times 10”
This is a totally meaningless slogan even for experienced safety professionals to get their heads around let alone those who have to make it work. As Lawyer Andrew Douglas points out in “Zero Harm – The Safety Swindle” – these slogans are only for CEOs to feel good about – but the workers are totally disenfranchised by them unless they realise its only an aspiration (this seems to be more than a simple aspiration) and what exactly harm is (Rob Long discusses what harm is here: THINKING ABOUT HARM).
This is how I reckon the players in this game would be feeling right now about this slogan (you will also love this little poem: The Plan – How $#&T Happens):
The Management Team
The People Wearing the Slogan