The Politics of Division in Safety

Shepherd stated: ‘Division is the oxygen that keeps politics alive’ (Radical Wholeness p. 246) and in safety there is nothing more divisive than zero (

Back in the day before the AIHS decided to adopt zero as its mantra and ideology, I used to be a Chartered Fellow. When the Association decided to follow the delusions of zero, it lost my support, commitment and any possibility of value to the association. The day the AIHS decided that safety would be guided by zero, I was out. They recently sponsored the global ‘zero event’ in Sydney ( and, were sponsors ( So, nothing has changed.

All that is freely available in SPoR is not available to AIHS members, its only available on the outside. Whatever value one gets from AIHS membership, it won’t be anything that SPoR gives out for free.

The politics of division are guided by different ideas of how power should be used. This is the foundation of Ethics.

Except, the AIHS BoK Chapter on Ethics never discusses the use of power in its chapter, astounding! Being silent on power in ethics ( enables unethical conduct to thrive. Perhaps this is why the AIHS accept sponsorship ( without accountability or moral responsibility?

When the end (safety) is used to justify the means (risk) then ethics goes out the door and a deontological (duty to safety not persons) ethic is justified.

In SPoR, we use a simple tool/method to help people tackle issues associated with politics in risk:

The Social Politics tool is a simple set of questions used to interrogate the locus of power in context. All of SPoR tools/methods are clearly documented in our latest free download book SPoR and Semiotics, Methods to Tackle Risk (

Whenever you organise your identity anchored to an absolute (zero) you create political division for fallible people (

The ideology of zero fosters stasis, non-movement, no compromise, no dialogue and no learning. Zero cannot tolerate anything, it cannot move or accept any injury and this is why the primary task of Safety is to count injury rates as its identity. When zero is the ideology any opportunity for discussion or questioning ceases ( The only thing is, counting injury rates has nothing to do with the presence of safety.

In SPoR, we accept the reality of harm. Harm is not the enemy of safety. The real aim of the safety game is not zero but rather the development of learning and resilience in the face of risk.

If you want to learn how SPoR understands and tackles risk you can register for the free online workshop with Matt Thorne: that will be delivered early next year.


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