The Language of ‘Hazards’ and Psychosocial, Mental Health

mental health hazardsSafety is the industry of ‘hazards’ and ‘controls’. This is the most popular and frequently used language for an industry that struggles to be ethical and professional.

Now with the advent of ISO 45003, all of a sudden, this industry has to become person-centric, human-centric and holistic, fat chance. The history of this industry over the past 30 years has been one of demonising, dehumanising and brutalising humans. An exaggeration? Well, just have a look at this: an AIHS sanctioned course entitled ‘How to address the risk of humans as hazards’.

Ah Safety, wouldn’t the world be much safer with no humans!

Even when Safety talks about ‘human factors’ it’s never about humans but systems, of which humans are a ‘factor’ (

When your mantra is zero, the impediments are humans (

There’s no hope for humans in zero harm ( Indeed, Safety doesn’t use the language of ‘hope’ in relation to itself.

How fascinating now this industry that now categorises psychosocial and mental health as a ‘hazard’ (

There is so much out there on this new standard ISO 45003 and most of it is laughable. Indeed, associating the language of ‘hazard’ with psychosocial and mental health demonstrates clearly, complete incompetence in any capability to tackle the issue.

No-one who is professional and works in psychosocial and mental health would ever use such language. It is simply absurd to associate psychosocial health with ‘slips trips and falls’. Just read this ‘goop’: ISO 45003: Manage Your Business’s Psychological Risk

As a research project, why not look for any text in the psychosocial and mental health ‘professions’ (eg. nursing, medicine, social work) and do a word search for ‘hazard’. You won’t find it. Here is an example:

If one associates the language of ‘hazard’ with persons and psychosocial and mental health, then one envisions that person as a problem. This is how the language of ‘hazard’ is used in safety. A hazard is a problem object.

Of course, at a fundamental level of shaping orientation, disposition and worldview is driven by the ‘framing’, ‘priming’ and ‘anchoring’ of language. Language not only has to make sense, it becomes the very foundation of how we live. Every safety person should read Metaphors We Live By (Lakoff and Johnson). And we can guess that such a text is not on any reading list or curriculum in safety anywhere across the globe.

Safety is the industry that validates ‘nonsense talk’ ( ). This is exemplified by the language of ‘zero’ spoken to fallible people ( What we also know is the zero industry never uses words like ‘fallibility’, ‘mortality’ and ‘imperfect’. If you want to know what safety believes, listen to its silences ( ).

Go to any zero discourse in the safety industry and you will observe the speaking of nonsense to people ( The worst example of this is the silly ‘Spirit of Zero’ video ( complete with religious apocalyptic imagery, music and symbolism. Didn’t you know Zero restores limbs and helps the blind to see.

All of this, especially the safety curriculum and AIHS BoK, turn ‘the i-it objectivization of humans’ (thanks Linda) into an art form. (90% of the AIHS BoK focus is objects). This is the same Safety that has no ethic of personhood beyond ‘do your duty and check your gut’ ( ).

I can just hear Safety talking in a meeting on hazards now. (Complete with no expertise in psychosocial and mental health, a history of objectivising humans and in love with zero ( I’m sure the talk will go like this:

· ‘Let’s talk about these hazards (humans), what are we going to do about them?’

· ‘Can someone please pass me the hazard register’, ‘are being, doing and living hazards?’

· ‘Let’s have a hazard hunt. Fixed any human hazards recently?’

· ‘Let’s fix these anxiety and depression hazards!’

Even the ISO 45003 standard ensures it maintains many silences about persons in its discourse. A good example is Safety’s fear of mentioning anything of a spiritual/religious nature, especially when it comes to culture. Yet, search any text in the psychosocial and mental health ‘professions’ and spiritual and religious well-being are considered foundational to mental health. Here are a few examples:





Of course, Safety doesn’t include any of this in either it’s definition of culture or anything associated with risk.

Indeed, Safety is risk averse to any discussion of non-measurable needs of persons in the workplace, despite the fact that workplaces have prayer rooms and work conditions that accommodate religious need and therapy.

Furthermore, for First Nations people the idea of separating spiritual health from mental health is nonsense (; ). A good read is: Aboriginal Culture Essentials by Korff (Creative Spirits).

Ah yes, but we know the safety solution. Anything it defines as the ‘too hard basket’, don’t talk about it. This is the Hopkins-Busch solution.

This is the same Safety that is now going to be person-centric, human-centric and holistic! Without a curriculum, Body of Knowledge or ethic to support it.

Already, there is call for Safety to conduct audits of psychosocial and mental health . Who is going to do this? Here’s the minefield, now walk into it blindfolded ( ).

Can you just imagine a Safety Psychosocial Triage or Assessment? With no ethic, who is going to confess anything to an industry consumed with ‘speak up’, ‘blaming’ and ‘brutalism’ and, no professional experience or expertise in confidentiality essential for psychosocial and mental health? How is any of this going to be ‘reported’ when confidentiality is essential to tackling psychosocial and mental health?

Workers learn very quickly that the last person to confess to is Safety.

And now with the regulator getting in on the act ( workers will learn very quickly that any confession of psychosocial harm will be your last. Just imagine working in a toxic zero workplace and confessing about the harm caused by such toxicity! There’s the door.

The global safety mantra strikes again.

Here’s a typical Triage Psychosocial Assessment (, who would let Safety-Zero near anything like this?

This is the same industry that never talks about ‘helping’ and is fixated on ‘telling’, ‘controls’ and ‘fixing’.

An attitude of fixing is a recipe for disaster in psychosocial and mental health.

This is why the language of ‘hazards’ is toxic for the development of any competence in tackling mental health in the workplace.

If one is interested in a positive, constructive and practical approach to tackling risk and psychosocial mental health, then SPoR offers many workshops (some for free) and other free resources to ‘help’. The current free programs running on culture and ethics are examples.

Source link

Leave a Reply

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