The Ethic of ALARP and the Dilemma of Safety

imageOne of the great things about the Regulation and the Act is the subjectivity of ALARP and Due Diligence. Both account for the beauty of human fallibility and the adaptability needed in tackling risk.

Of course, there is no policy, law, regulation or standard that is absent of a moral philosophy. There is no system, procedure or regulation that is objective, all law is interpreted. All regulation is subjective. That’s why we have the court system to rule on matters of law and regulation. Safety people are not trained legal professionals and at best are amateurs when it comes to matters of jurisprudence.

So, whilst the risk and safety world are clearly behaviourist/positivist in ethic, the principles of ALARP and Due Diligence are not.

ALARP is founded on a situationist ethic as is Due Diligence. Safety is founded on a deontological ethic, evidenced by the AIHS BoK Chapter on Ethics. So, this puts the risk and safety industry (not profession) in direct dialectic with an ethic alien to itself.

A deontological ethic loves the absolute, the black and white, the right and wrong, the root cause when there is none. Such an approach to ethics is the concoction of Kantian ethics and the idea that morality is known according to Natural Law. Of course, if you read the AIHS BoK Chapter on Ethics you will realise that this amateur discussion thinks morality and ethics are the same thing.

Natural Law ethics ( or deontological ethics ( has much in common with the idea of a divine law ( ). Such a view holds to the belief in universal moral principles regardless of context or situation. More so, the AIHS BoK Chapter on Ethics believes this can be known by Checking one’s gut’! ( This is the same ethic that makes no mention of power, care, personhood or helping.

This from page 6 of the AIHS BoK on Ethics: ‘As there is a moral duty to obey the law (with some rare caveats), an OHS professional who is in breach of the law is likely to be behaving unethically’. Such a statement assumes the objectivity of the law and that the law defines ethics.

Or perhaps this classic from the BoK chapter on Ethics (p.41): ‘OHS legislation in most jurisdictions includes the worker’s right to know of matters impacting on their health and safety (e.g. SWA, 2016, s 48). This legal duty to tell workers eliminates the ethical question of confidentiality’. Just imagine how such an ethic bodes for anyone whose psychosocial information is reported as a hazard to the Regulator!!!! ( Sorry folks, when it comes to safety there is no ethic of confidentiality.

Of course, it is no surprise that Safety is attracted to a religious ethic because it is so preoccupied with ‘saving lives’ and salvation ( ). This is the attraction of Zero, itself founded in an ethic of perfection.

However, standing against this divine ethic, the love child of Safety, is the reality of situational ethics ( and existentialist ethics.

There are other valid worldviews other than Safety.

I have mapped a number of ethical worldviews here:

ALARP is judged by the situation. You can do all that you think possible in Traditional safety and still find it was not enough. Then a Coroner will tell you so. Indeed, most traditional safety systems don’t work. It then becomes a rude shock for safety people who complete all the paperwork required, all the systems, all the policing and all the counting of injuries and still people are harmed. Then the court will inform you that this stuff doesn’t work:

Indeed, what a shock when you find out that most of your paperwork will be used against you in court ( Just imagine the shock when you find out that neither the court nor lawyers believe in ‘root cause’ (

Sorry to say, paperwork doesn’t ‘save lives’, systems don’t ‘save lives’. Systems and humans are fallible, regardless of how many times you repeat the nonsense word ‘zero’.

The best way to tackle risk is in situ, this is how ALARP is meant to work. This is why the iCue method of SPoR is so effective ( ). This is why iCue Engagement ( using visual and verbal methods is a better defence in court, should something go wrong. This is why iCue gives the greatest correlation to the principle of ALARP ( The ethic of iCue is best aligned with the ethic of ALARP and enables the tackling of risk in a positive, constructive and practical method that neither S1 or S2 offer.

5. ALARP from Human Dymensions on Vimeo.

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