Of Course, Method Matters in Safety

I heard someone the other day in Safety state that method and methodology was not important because it didn’t matter as long as lives were ‘saved’.

This is the kind of nonsense I would expect from an industry without a clue of moral philosophy or ethics (https://safetyrisk.net/tackling-ethics-in-risk-a-philosophical-challenge/ ). This is pure ‘ends justify the means’ ideology and is based on the naive idea that process doesn’t matter. This philosophy is about outcome overriding process and so one can demonise others, brutalise others, abuse others just as long as lives are saved!

This is the kind of nonsense peddled by behaviourism (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-gives-me-the-right-to-over-ride-your-rite/) that says I have the right to override your rights, your rites and your right-to-being.

Methodology (worldview) is what drives method. Your ideas and belief’s matter. You don’t have to go back very far to find this philosophy used to justify brutalism. Any form of eugenics (https://safetyrisk.net/safety-eugenics-and-the-engineering-of-risk-aversion/ ) is based on this, as is Nazism/Fascism. This is Machiavellian nonsense (https://www.ethicssage.com/2018/04/do-the-ends-justify-the-means.html).

What this ideology believes is that life is so precious that ‘being’ in life doesn’t matter. It is an absurdity.

This is why many in safety are naïve about methodology (philosophy) indeed, many in Safety can’t even articulate what their philosophy is. Many use the word ‘philosophy’ and just mean values or principles. What occurs through such naivety is ignorance of the deeply held philosophies and religious ideologies and, how they work. A good example is the ideology of zero, that the absolute justifies method. This is what a deontological ethic justifies (https://safetyrisk.net/the-aihs-bok-and-ethics-check-your-gut/).

This is why my ‘map of schools of thought’ in risk and safety is important. It does matter what you believe (methodology) because this drives your method. If you have to brutalise persons to get an outcome then, you don’t carer about persons. The foundation of this philosophy espoused in zero is that a numerical outcome justifies the dehumanisation of persons.

What is hidden in this philosophy is silence on personhood (http://www.ethicsandculture.com/blog/2021/the-ends-dont-justify-the-means ). What it is to be and live as a person, in a community and society is not defined. In this way the end justifies the means. And, of course, it is all based on a naïve contradiction.

I can harm you how I want as long as I achieve zero harm!!! Why, because method doesn’t matter, just as long as we save lives.

This kind of thinking comes from an industry that has no curriculum in critical thinking, ethics or moral philosophy. Without such, there is no hint of being professional.

When one turns harm into a sacred ideology as Safety does then, harm of persons results. This is the kind of warped logic of Safety. The same logic drives helicopter parenting (https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/helicopter-parenting). The fear of harm is a psychosis.

Harm is essential to learning and development and foundational to the beauty of fallibility (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/).

Of course, what is always hidden in silence on ethics and moral philosophy is the quest for power. Just read the AIHS BoK Chapter on ethics and ask: where is the discussion of power? A discussion of power is the foundation for a study of ethics.

The use of power and its outcomes is foundational for ethical professional leadership. Safety demonstrates no interest in any of this.

At the moment in Australia, we have yet another ethical scandal, this time involving the 4 largest accounting firms (Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and EY)


The foundation for this scandal is a lack of ethics, lack of moral philosophy and a misuse of power. And at its foundation is greed. None of these firms are professional because ethical conduct is foundational for professionalism .

But this corruption is based on the same lack of morality as espoused by Safety. This is the outcome of the thesis: It doesn’t matter the method as long as the outcome suits. When the goal is to maximise profits, maximise for the ‘good’ of the company then such a ‘good’ justifies the means. Don’t worry about corruption, don’t worry about harm along the way, get the outcome and all is good.

Fortunately, this is NOT how the Law works. Funny, the Law cares about process (https://vimeo.com/163784444). The Law cares about who gets harmed along the way. The Law cares about Moral Philosophy and what is good, not some silly ideology of zero harm

10. PIKE RIVER Part 1 from Human Dymensions on Vimeo.

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