No Safety in Numbers

Originally posted on June 9, 2021 @ 8:04 PM

No Safety in Numbers

I was asked to present recently to a group in the USA on the fixation/psychosis of Safety with numbers. I started with the title of this blog making two points: that you are no safer in a crowd/group, dispelling the myth ‘there is always safety in numbers’ and then spoke on the history of the safety industry and why it has developed ‘numerics psychosis’.

The Bystander Effect

There is plenty of evidence in Social Psychology to dispel the myth that one is safe the more people are about. The ‘Genovese Effect’ or ‘Bystander Effect’ ( ) demonstrates that perception of risk changes when ‘Groupthink’ is present ( ). Indeed, Groupthink in itself plays a strong role in shaping the decision making of individuals in groups. The powerful dynamics of group pressure can be simply dangerous. We see this often in mass movements and trends in politics where people can be so easily swayed by Propaganda. You can have a look at experiments in Groupthink here:

Understanding the shaping of decision making is a principle interest for the Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR). This is why we have developed a map of social influence dynamics that you can download for free here:


Whilst it is one thing to know there are hundreds of social influencing forces in groups, it’s quite another to understand how they work and in combinations to shape decision making. What this shows is that the simplistic claims of behaviorist nonsense like Behaviour Based Safety (BBS) is completely concocted BS. Most parents already know about Peer Pressure (Groupthink) when their children demand something in order to conform to their group (not the norms their parent expects). But these are only a few of the dynamics at work. One would need to understand much more of Social Psychology to understand how many of these forces affect decision making at work. Then more work would be needed and research to understand how these pressures affect judgments about risk. Of course, the mono-disciplinary WHS curriculum and AIHS BoK have shown no interest in this research for the past 20 years and so maintain a nonsense behaviourist ethic that simply doesn’t work. Poor olds safety busy counting apples in an orange grove.

Numerics Psychosis

In the second half of the presentation I put forward many slide shots of safety websites that demonstrates that all safety knows is numbers and counting. Furthermore, most of what counts in life, living and being is not counted in Safety. Safety only counts what can be counted. The things that are essential in organisations and groups like: love, helping, trust, respect, relationship, care, helping and ethics are of no interest to this industry. Safety only shows an interest in the counting of objects and objects for counting.

The very essentials of what makes for: effective relationships, communication effectiveness, sustainable organizing, political harmony, stability in institutions and envisioning risk is nowhere to be found in any curriculum anywhere in safety.

I asked the group who had all studied a degree in safety if any had received any skill development or curriculum in: observations, listening, conversation, helping skills and social psychology – not one.

Yet, all had been swamped with regulation, legislation (that they will never use) and endless bureaucracy focused on counting injury statistics, that have no relation to the presence of safety.

Of course, then came from the group that old aphorism ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’ a wonderful excuse for a sad industry deluded by the idea that a number can be attributed to a value. This silly aphorism is completely false. All of the things that matter most in life cannot be measured neither counted. The most important things required in organisations that help people be safe cannot be measured nor counted.

There is no relationship between injury numbers and the creation of safety!

We then travelled back in time to realize that all of this concocted nonsense and creating belief in numbers started with the Heinrich delusion ( ) and nonsense ideas that were made up by insurance salesmen and engineers who had no cognizance of how their models would fix this industry to injury rates. Now this industry has evolved to this psychosis of counting and the delusions of zero that create a fixation of petty risk.

All in the group acknowledged that the industry was now broken and wasn’t focused on what they had enter safety for, helping persons tackle risk.

Sadly, the conference ended with people feeling powerless to change things. Most decried their association and other associations for making no change to the delusions of the WHS curriculum or a body of knowledge that simply deepens the false consciousness on objects and numbers.

What a sad indictment when so much is available that works:

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