The Dominance of Zero as the ‘Common Denominator’ of Safety

A worldview is a philosophy, a filter with which one interprets the world. There is no neutral world nor objective view of the world, everything is filtered and interpreted. When one adopts a worldview one creates an identity and political belonging to that view.

We see this already in the recurring presentations on Zero at the global Zero conference to be held in Sydney in November. Zero is listed 6 times in the program and 4 times in the invitation (p.8) as a: culture, a vision, a strategy, as adding value, as an implementation, an approach, progressive collaboration and common denominator. This from page 49 of the program:

‘There are many effective approaches to safety and health at work; and there is one common denominator that unites all efforts: the vision of zero occupational accidents and diseases.’

This is how the spin of Zero works. All by assertion, no evidence, no method and no discussion of hidden ideology. All of this reveals that Zero is the great safety delusion ( Zero is the great safety divider! The Dominance of Zero as the ‘Common Denominator’ of Safety

How amusing that this document acknowledges ‘other approaches to risk at work’ and then asserts that ‘Zero is a common denominator’. As with many declares views by Safety, the opposite is the case. Zero is the great divider of the industry. Our online survey demonstrates this clearly ( And don’t let it slip your perception that ‘common denominator’ is a mathematical expression.

Just observe in the weeks to come, all of the gobbledegook and distancing language from the AIHS and others about how they don’t believe in Zero. A classic example is the AIHS BoK on Ethics that makes no mention of Zero. This is how to best enable this ideology. Call it a ‘global by-line’ then continue on in religious worship. Such is the power of spin and lack of critical thinking in the industry.

A worldview as a philosophy is also called, a ‘methodology’. A methodology is NOT a method, methods emerge out of a methodology. A methodology is the why, a method is the what and how.

Zero is a methodology that generates a method (

SPoR is a methodology that generates a different method (

The dominant worldview in safety is set in engineering and behaviourism ( This is rarely discussed in safety ( It is just assumed that everyone agrees and complies with this view. This is how the global industry asserts that Zero is a ‘common denominator’. Just ask anyone at the coalface of high risk what they think of Zero. Zero is the ideology for managers who sit in judgement of risk from their office chair.

All worldviews, whether they are disclosed and articulated, lead to methods and outcomes ( If one doesn’t agree with the methods and outcomes of Zero, then one holds a different worldview.

The thing is, we don’t have to accept the popular or traditional view if we feel it brutalises persons.

Of course, when a worldview is infused with an ideology of compliance then, any challenge to that view is determined as NOT belonging and non-compliant. Any criticism of Zero is thus interpreted as anti-safety. But be assured, this is a political decision NOT a declaration of a worldview. Rather, Zero creates its own politick, so that in-groupness and out-groupness can be determined ( ).

You can be guaranteed, there will be no place for opposing Zero in November in Sydney.

From here Safety as Zero determines that, any opposing view to Zero must be marginalised and deemed taboo. A religious expression. Or maybe ‘anathema’, another religious expression. This is both a religious and political position. This means that one stays in one’s own camp and doesn’t listen to any contesting view. This creates comfort and security and assures indoctrination NOT learning. BTW, in 20 years I have never been invited by any regulator or association to debate zero.

There are a number of worldviews that exists in the Safety world and these were documented here: I called these ‘schools of thought’.

Each School of Thought competes against others politically, whether one likes it or not, such is the nature of competing values ( at the foundation of the methodologies.

It’s just that in Safety, these are rarely discussed, debated or named. Indeed, the idea that Philosophy is of no value is also an identity of Traditional safety. Engineering/behaviourism and Zero are determined silently as orthodoxy (common denominator) so that any criticism from any other ‘school’ or ‘camp’ is rejected.

What enables this situation is, a range of silences ( particularly about moral meaning, ethics, politics, and voices from Disciplines outside of the engineering/behaviourism worldview. And read the program for the Zero congress, all of these are observed with silence.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.