We Need Hearing Protection

Originally posted on May 30, 2014 @ 12:12 PM

We Need Hearing Protection

By Dr Rob Long

Woman with helmet and loudspeaker on whiteI went to a safety conference recently and learned a new use for hearing protection. There is nothing more dangerous to the safety industry than the constant ‘spin’ of safety noise.

Why is it that we keep hearing so many myths about safety being projected as reality at conferences? What did I hear at this conference? The noise about injury data projected as a cultural measure. The noise of culture as systems and, the intelligence of risk aversion. All this noise about behaviours as psychology and indoctrination as learning is deafening. Surely we don’t need to hear any more of the discourse of fear projected as good nor the regurgitation of the word ‘innovation’ as just the reframing of old ideas. Then there is the nonsense language that paperwork protects one in court and regulators wanting a dumb down non-thinking workforce. The endless graphs and data maintaining the delusion that injury and error reduction is safety seem to be paraded as idols of value to the cult of numerics. Please hand out the hearing protection, the noise is dangerous. And, of course the air has to be filled with the word ‘zero’ otherwise we haven’t talked about safety.

Why does all this safety noise continue to get airplay? Perhaps the industry is so indoctrinated with safety mythology that it now believes the mythology to be true. Just have a look at recent textbooks published for the Diploma in WHS and there up front is Heinrich’s triangle, myths about due diligence as measureable, safety as regulation and, nonsense about the objectivity of incident investigation. Just look at some of the recent safety magazines: ads about buying a ‘tick and flick’ SWMS, injury data stories and fear stories of prosecution. So whilst the practitioner mindset continues to want real knowledge on communication, culture and decision making, the profession mindset seems busy perpetuating noise. Since we started the Accreditation in Australia Linked Group it is clear, people want less mythology and noise and, more realistic discourse. So, let’s pass out the hearing protection. What can we do to facilitate noise reduction?

· Perhaps some of these old models of indoctrination need to go, maybe they have had their day. We could begin by staying away from safety conferences. After all, safety conferences are not run by safety people anyway.

· At Human Dymensions we have found great success in small regional ‘thinking groups’ (not safety groups), book clubs and facebook groups. Perhaps start a small regional book club or thinking group. No overheads, no admin costs and I’m sure the local coffee shop will be grateful.

· It seems people are also staying away from university undergraduate degrees in safety too. Easier to pick up a Diploma RPL and learn on the job.

· People are staying away from associations also (as demonstrated by the LInkedin group), disappointed with petty politics and petty territory builders hanging on to an old model of associating.

· Thank goodness the noise of harmonization is also fading.

· Maybe it might be good to not purchase safety magazines, just more collection of noise, advertising and pushing the same old fear-centric junk. It won’t be long and they will head the way of the newspapers anyway. They cost a fortune and for what value?

Maybe, safety people are each learning at their own place and on their own plan, voting with their feet, this seems to be the trend. After all, is there any great virtue in a harmonized uniform association when it is loaded with agenda no one wants to hear?

So, perhaps its time to start a small ‘thinking group’ or ‘book club’ (not a safety group) in your region and start the conversation.

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