Release the Safety Monster and Wreck a Good TV Show

Originally posted on August 5, 2014 @ 7:06 PM

There are calls by the safety zealots to have TV DIY Shows ensure they set a good safety example (compliance is the most commonly used word) – Dr Rob Long responds:

Release the Safety Monster and Wreck a Good TV Show

Safety MonsterI’m not much of a fan of reality TV shows especially the home renovation type or building programs but understand those who are. I guess it’s fun watching ordinary people turn trash into treasure and the voyeuristic stress that plays out between characters. Obviously this mode of TV entertainment makes for a good balance sheet and attracts sponsors, the success of TV. As I look at some of these programs the appeal is in the emphasis on ‘make do’, design, strategy, stress, fast and frugal decisions (heuristics), relationships and team politics. One of the best things about these programs is that they have not released the safety monster. The last thing people want to see is the safety monster wandering about policing people for ‘pissy risks’.

I can just imagine the ratings for a safety show that tried to build and construct, rather than a construction show that managed safety. The only trade show I know that was highly successful was Home Improvement and its success was mostly about comedy and the failure of safety. Mistakes are entertaining and engaging, we see ourselves in the characters of the drama. This is their attraction.

When I think about how these TV shows ‘work’ there would be nothing like the safety monster to give programming the kiss of death. Just imagine, crazy PPE when it is not needed, JSEAs for low risk tasks, crusaders wandering about jumping over people because they know the job better, they know safety. Just watch the job slow down as the safety monster stifles creativity, bogs everyone down in paperwork, lectures participants in the correct art of dumb down safety, a beautiful recipe for spiral down ratings.

Of course the real agenda for the safety monster is not safety but rather control and power. The safety monster can’t let others decided ALARP, only they know what is appropriate risk. The safety monster must ride roughshod over others, safety won’t allow choice, the monster must control and not allow you to decide. The safety monster has to stand and police rather than trust and focus on learning.

We all know that TV is not about reality, there are qualified tradespeople in the background out of camera, ready to advise, work and make the show flow. There are safety people too, but this is not a show about safety and they know that the safety monster will kill the show. The producer knows however that should the safety monster get near the show, it will do a King Kong demolition of sanity and ordinary life. Of course there is a medical officer nearby, but they have considered risks, it’s just that their ALARP doesn’t match the ALARP of the safety monster.

I just don’t get the fixation of the safety crusader, Hazardman teaching our kids in schools that ‘pissy hazards’ (puddles of water and power leads) are what safety is about. No wonder people don’t know how Risk Makes Sense.

I don’t get this fixation of the safety monster on control and power, power of the Act and Regulation to dominate others and their capability to make their own sense of risk? It is only the safety monster who has the righteous motives and everyone else is dumb and must be told about hammers, power saws and jack hammers. Ahhh, if only Hazardman and the safety monster could combine and dominate every home in the country. Thank god they can’t.

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