Petty, Pissy Zero Harm

Originally posted on July 27, 2018 @ 7:25 PM

Petty, Pissy Zero Harm

clip_image002Just when you thought Zero couldn’t get any more unprofessional and stupid, out come some classics this week. Here is an ad for the Head of Zero Harm.

I wonder what the KPIs for that job are? Do you get sacked for the first harm? Do you get sacked for the first psychological injury? When the first person gets injured, what do you do? Sack them and resign? What is the performance pay for a head of Zero Harm? Perhaps the pay scale is worked out depending on the number of band-aids and tissues that leave the first aid kit? Do fallible humans work at this workplace? Is performance tied to sick leave data? Really, just how silly can Zero Harm get. Disposing of the name of ‘safety’ in the ad is a classic in propaganda, then re-owning the name in the job description??? What an indictment to make the two concepts interchangeable! Is safety and zero harm the same thing? Therefore, is un-safety defined by the presence of harm? Just imagine, all homes and households must be declared unsafe because children learning to live have been harmed. No wonder we have such a problem with helicopter parenting (

Of course we should know that no real profession would ever talk such stupidity and crazy language to its employees. Just imagine if the medical profession had the motto, ‘zero death’! or the social work profession ‘zero abuse? Can you imagine nurses going to work each day under the mantra of zero? Just imagine having a zero harm dentist? Or maybe the teaching profession should advocate ‘zero mistakes’, wouldn’t that create a dysfunctional school. In what world of professional reality does it make sense to deny human fallibility??? (

Indeed, any real health professional knows that perfectionism is a mental health disorder ( ). Just imagine just how crazy it would be if anyone involved in Health advocated a zero harm hospital or a zero harm doctors surgery??? Anyone advocating for the denial of hormesis in health would be a laughing stock but not health tied to safety!

We all know that no one in a real health profession would advocate zero, except for health tied to Safety. Hey I know, maybe the SIA should be renamed the The Zero Harm & Health Profession. Well it would be consistent, because they believe in zero and endorse the world congress ideology ( ). I wonder how the two (safety and health) can sit beside each other in a schizophrenic relationship in denial and advocacy for zero?

As an observation, it’s funny how real professions don’t need to include the word ‘profession’ in their title anyway. When people know they are a real profession they don’t get hung up about professional identity.

But it gets better.

Also this week in a safety journal an ad for a plastic lock to stop laces from coming undone in the name of, you guessed it – zero harm. This has to be the ultimate it petty, pissy safety. Except maybe zero harm nail clippers in case I might scratch myself.

This is the kind of outcome one gets from zero harm ideology. Defining risk by the micro and amplifying petty risk as important. This is the trajectory of zero ideology. I am dying to read Phil La Duke’s new book – ‘I Know My Shoes are Untied. Mind Your Own Business’. (Goodness me, have people not heard of a double knot?). Only zero thinks it has the absolute right to unethically trample over the rights of others in the name of its ideological crusade.


Of course, Greg and I discussed the problem of zero harm in our video series – Risky Conversations, The Law, Social Psychology and Risk . In one of the videos you learn that people died on the Horizon One disaster because Safety had banned sharp knives on the facility and yet, the Safety manager Steve Tinks didn’t know the emergency procedures! – Of course we know that cuts, breaks and minor harm don’t create legal liability (regardless of the claims in this article), only dumb down Zero Harm thinks so.

Here is what petty, pissy zero harm fosters:

· Represses reporting.

· Elevates and amplifies petty risk as critical.

· Confuses the presence of harm with un-safety.

· Mis-defines safety completely indeed, tries to eliminate the word safety from its language.

· Makes numerics and metrics a psychology that dehumanizes people and results in bullying and authoritarianism.

· Sets absurd goals for fallible people.

· Advocates absolutes goals and language to vulnerable humans.

· Is nonsense language.

· Creates a dehumanizing culture.

· Fosters Obsessive Compulsive Disorder about injury.

For those who want to be professional and real here’s the truth. In a random world where fallible humans cannot optimize, where time and resources are limited, zero harm wants to focus on a device for laces as if somehow in the real world that is significant. Talk about the Love of Zero (

Goodness me, in a world that is so hectic andso demanding on time and resources, surely we should be focusing time, resources and energy on high risk and keeping consistent with the work health and safety legislation? In a world in which we are so time poor, why does zero ideology keep inventing devices to manage petty pissy risk and seek ‘ultra safety’. This is regardless of the fact that Amalberti proves conclusively that ultra-safety is impossible ( )

The WHS legislation acknowledges that harm is inevitable in an ALARP world. The Regulation knows that you only need paperwork for high risk tasks. We all know that excessive and pettiness have created a massive ‘tick and flick’ problem. The courts understand that all harm cannot be prevented. The legal profession knows that humans live in a real world and like all real professions acknowledge human fallibility ( If anything is a retardant to being professional it is the absurdity and discourse of zero ideology. The world congress in safety has created such a problem, setting the benchmark and discourse in 2017 in the religious ideology of zero. When can it go next? What language does it speak when the numbers go up? When you speak absolutes to fallible people, everything that follows looks pretty stupid.

So, lets stop talking nonsense to people. Let’s stop focusing on petty, pissy risk. Let’s drop the silly perfectionist language and be professional. If Safety wants to be professional, it has to drop zero ideology. Safety will never be able to advance the well-being of fallible people as long as it commits to this ideological absolute.

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