Setting Up a Safety Con

Originally posted on May 9, 2021 @ 1:27 PM

Setting Up a Safety Con

man with helmet at workWhen safety becomes a necessity and a product it becomes the hot target for a safety con. When something is a regulated demand and a ‘legal requirement’ such creates a wonderful hot bed to take people for a con. The basis of all con jobs is ignorance. The enemy of all con jobs is research, critical thinking and healthy scepticism. The trouble is, such skills as critical thinking and questioning are diminished by a culture of blind compliance, fear and ‘group think’, all cultural norms in safety.

This is why safety crusaders thrive on running around like 2-bit lawyers telling everyone what and what isn’t a legal requirement. Most of the time none of what is paraded as a ‘legal requirement’ is NOT. Greg Smith and I developed the Risky Conversations series of videos and podcasts and offer them free online, as a foil for crusading by Safety on this nonsense con of ‘legal requirement’.

· The free video series are here:

· The free talking books are here:

· The transcripts in book for is still on sale here:

A qualification in WHS is often just a little enough knowledge in the law to make someone dangerous and a champion for a con. A safety person will never be called up as a legal expert when something goes wrong. Any safety person parading themselves as a legal expert parading ‘legal requirements’ whilst having no qualifications in Law is already on the pathway to a classic con.

So, what are the key elements of a con?

  1. The first key signifier to a con is the necessity to empty your bank account to get an outcome. Usually, the price for the con is high and this makes ‘sunk cost’ much stronger in denying later that you have been conned. The more exorbitant the cost usually matches the greatest con jobs.
  2. The second signifier of a con is the marketing matched to need. Any promise to get to zero becomes a great avenue to get some CEO to empty their bank account. This is where the zero cult ( ) or 1% safer-type marketing ( ) get their fuel. Play to the market, usually with profound emotional use of numbers and passion.
  3. The third signifier of a con is the generation of confidence, this is often paraded by the excessive use of the word ‘professional’ especially when the claimant is poorly qualified and has no intention of helping anyone other than themselves to your money. The moment you hear the phrase ‘legal requirement’ don’t buy it; seek precedent, legal case study, chapter, verse and legal finding.
  4. The fourth signifier of a con is exploiting the naivety and trust of good people, often prospective victims do care about others and want to help but without the critical ability to smell a sociopath at 10 paces.
  5. The fifth signifier of a con is the use of Neuro-Linguistics Programming (NLP) skills in framing, mirroring, pitching and priming. Often the con merchant is very good at being ‘liked’, they say all the things that appeal to your own passions and necessities. In safety, they know all the stats on injury rates and appeal to the common fixation-fear of harm. The safety sociopath is gifted at reading people quickly and matches their language to yours. They know how to say the things you like to hear. The con artist is the champion of confirmation bias.
  6. The sixth signifier of a con is the used car salesperson pitch posed in binary either-or language and entrapment. What kind of person would not want to join in a cause to reduce injury rates? Who could challenge the morality of zero? At the time of the con most people don’t smell the speed of the binary proposition or the deviousness of entrapment, even though they feel odd at the time. Con artists are great at ‘making safety personal’, drawing in on mutual personalization of passion is a great way for a set up for a con.
  7. The seventh signifier of the con is the open line of questioning that is used to find out what you are passionate about and where your focus is in safety. These questions seem innocent at the time and are always delivered with a huge smile, lots of positives and the demonization of questioning as negativity.
  8. The eighth key to the classic con is the downplay of money in the sell. The last thing that the con artist wants you to think about is the money, all wonderfully disguised in language of participation, positivity, passion and persuasion. None of the sell is ever paraded as a ‘sell’. Often the con is packaged as what you will get out of the process/campaign. Just imagine what people will think of you? Just imagine how this will help you network? Just imagine this will put you and your organization on the safety page? The champion of the con is often charismatic, a great presenter, story teller and slick with words.
  9. The ninth signifier of a con is grooming. Grooming is the ultimate skill for the con merchant. Con merchants are the best groomers of all time, and you don’t know you have been groomed until you are caught and things go pear shaped. By that time, the bank account is down thousands of dollars, the promises have failed and you are left with the projected blame because you lacked faith or skill to enact the promise.
  10. 1The tenth signifier of a con is the power of opportunity and difference. The promise of being different and new is often the language but the discourse (power in the language) is just the same. Most people can’t pick up discourse and get conned by the razzmatazz of the language that gets the pitch perfect, you like what you hear. It ticks all the safety boxes.

The best way to NOT fall for the safety con is to:

  1. Read and research well, wide and outside of safety literature
  2. Don’t fear questions posed as negativity
  3. Carry a healthy level of scepticism to every conversation in safety
  4. Challenge binary questions and absolutes
  5. Check-in on your own emotional passions
  6. Listen for belief statements in the pitch
  7. Follow the money trail
  8. Challenge promises, never buy into the phrase ‘legal requirement’
  9. Consult a lawyer about so called ‘safety requirements’
  10. Always allow a long time and space between any pitch and commitment

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