The Safety Professional Myth

Continuing our series on Safety Mythssee them all here

I was sent this image recently and it says it all about the myth of the safety professional (see Figure 1. SP Myth)

Figure 1. SP Myth


As we have been asserting in this series on myths: all symbols that embed ideology are mythical.

The source of this image is from a safety magazine that amplifies much safety mythology. In this case the image is branded an ‘infographic’.

All images, symbols and graphics reveal the ideology of the designer and what is presented, mis-presented, represented and omitted, talks much about what identity is being sought. This is how myths are created.

Myths are not real but are made true by an industry that makes symbols a new truth.

Just look at what this article states is the role of a person in safety:

  • ‘Keeping up with their continuing professional development;
  • Complying with the correct personal protective equipment, aware of the latest innovations in PPE and how to procure them;
  • Legislation is the foundation stone of the health and safety profession – it’s key for a modern health and safety professional to be on top of any legislative changes’

Just keep repeating the language of ‘safety professional’, repeat it incessantly and believe it. This is the myth. Then ensure silence on all the characteristics of professionalism required to be professional such as ethics, helping and care.

I have written about this incongruence previously:

So have a quick look at the symbol projected in this image. Look how Safety wishes to define itself!

  1. Safety clearly understands itself as standing on books of legislation.
  2. It holds technology as its tool of choice and assumes that this is what communication is. BTW, there is no program on effective communication in any safety curriculum. Safety is the industry of telling NOT listening. Sadly, Safety is NOT trained to communicate.
  3. PPE is sadly the primary focus of the practitioner and technology a means to do more paperwork.
  4. The goal of Safety is to keep on top of legislation, which they will never use and will never be called on in a court of law. The reality is a legal professional will be called to ‘help’.
  5. Then we have this weird thing called CPD. Safety is NOT interested in learning but rather regurgitation, compliance and mono-disciplinarity.
  6. CPD really means Confirmation bias, Persistence Disorder.

There are many more assumptions embedded in this myth that are disturbing and certainly nothing that SPoR focuses on ( ) is anywhere in the gaze of this industry.

Sadly, the most demanding and professional things required by safety people in practice are never offered by this professional myth:

  • Safety people first and foremost need skills in engagement never offered in their training.
  • Safety needs to focus on persons and risk.
  • Safety people are never offered the education needed in critical thinking skills.
  • Safety people most want skills in helping and caring, and methods to ensure people are primary in enactment.
  • They also need a moral philosophy not based on duty but care.

Such is the safety professional myth.

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