Welcome to the Nightmare, Safety Creates its Own Minefield (as usual)

imageWell, you have to hand it to the zero industry. Going into the abyss in a tissue box armed with a Cert 4 OHS. And what is this minefield? ISO 45003:2021 OHS Safety Management – Psychosocial Health and Safety at Work – Guidelines for Managing Psychosocial Risks.

Only the industry of zero, metrics, engineering and behaviourism could consider creating a minefield and then tell everyone in safety to walk into it. If ever there was an industry incapable of being person-centric and human-centric (based on its cultural credentials) it is Safety. Just for a start, where is the foundation for an ‘ethic of risk’ in this industry of zero??? The foundation for zero is intolerance, the opposite of what anyone needs in ‘meeting’ people with mental health concerns.

There is no history in the safety industry of being person-centric. There is no discourse in the industry on an ‘ethic of risk’. There is no discussion of personhood in the industry or any discussion of fallibility. Indeed, understanding and accepting fallibility is the foundation for understanding mental well-being. One can’t maintain absolute faith in the ideology of zero and at the same time call for person-centeredness, empathy and engaging the ‘whole-person. Furthermore, there is nothing in the safety curriculum that even begins to tackle any learning about psycho-social safety.

I know let’s get in a safety expert, do a 3-day course and Bob’s your uncle.

As admirable as this industry’s dreams are and aspirations for zero fairy-tales, there is simply no foundation in the industry with which to build this standard on.

I can’t wait for the first court case under this standard, when someone suicides and the victim’s family sues the company for wrongful advice.

One can have all the admirable desire one wants but without a foundation, curriculum and competence, it’s just another fiction to put in the zero basket of unachievable linguistics.

How on earth is an industry fixated on injury, harm, hazards, policing and controls going to develop the right orientation and disposition to tackle this ‘wicked problem’? How is the language of ‘hazards’ going to help construct a therapeutic environment that is person-centric? How is this going to sit beside the fixation with counting injury rates? Can you just imaging the psychosocial LTI count each month!

Anyone who actually works in the field of mental health and psychosocial issues knows that a so called ‘standard’ like this is the last thing this industry needs to enter. Psychological and mental health bears no resemblance to any of the issues that safety thinks it can ‘fix’. Indeed, anyone in mental health work knows there is no ‘fixing’, no ‘controls’ and ‘little management’. Such attitudes to persons are a recipe for disaster.

Psychological and mental health are NOT objects to control. These share nothing in common with anything Safety does and any thought of applying a Hierarchy of Control to them is absurd, immature and simplistic.

What a nonsense to talk about likelihood, exposure, occurrence being ‘caused by these hazards’ (3.1). Such a mentality fosters all the wrong signals for approaching anyone with mental health concerns. Further to 3.1 we have this ‘Hazards of a psychosocial nature include aspects of work organization, social factors at work, work environment equipment and hazardous tasks’.

Hmmm, and where is this expertise going to come from to understand ‘social factors at work’ from an industry that shows no interest in social psychology? How is this industry that has no interest or curriculum that tackles ethics, counselling or politics, going to muster a humanising approach to psychosocial and mental health issues?

The fact that this industry has launched into this area demonstrates clearly its inability to understand what it has entered into.

Welcome to the minefield. More to come.

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