When Safety Delights in ‘I Told You So’!

health and safety manOne of the many myths of Safety is the idea that ‘telling’ (https://safetyrisk.net/telling-the-safety-way/ ) works. This from an industry that never speaks of the psychology of comprehension, theories of education or the psychology of learning (https://safetyrisk.net/what-theory-of-learning-is-embedded-in-your-investigation-methodology/ ). Yes, Safety uses the word ‘learning’ often but it never means learning, it means ‘schooling’. Schooling is like banking, deposit data in, extract data out. The classic behaviourist myth that isn’t real or true.

Similarly, training is not learning. The last place I would seek any understanding of learning theory would be from the engineering-behaviourism industry. If you want to learn about learning try anything from Ken Robinson (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Robinson_(educationalist)) or Guy Claxtonn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learning_power ). You can also learn about learning here: https://www.humandymensions.com/product/tackling-risk/

If you want to learn about learning in teams or individually, best to consult people who have knowledge, experience and expertise in learning. Neither engineer-behaviourists know about learning. Similarly, don’t go to a source in Safety to try and understand learning. Knowledge and data transference is NOT learning. Regurgitating data out from data in, is NOT learning. If you consult a Safety source and they cannot tell you what their learning theory is, they are NOT talking about learning.

The great downside of the industry of ‘telling’ is the grand reply when something goes wrong ‘I told you so’!

Whenever you hear this language in Safety you are hearing ‘schadenfreude’ (https://neurosciencenews.com/schandenfreude-neuroscience-23315/), the close cousin of blaming and arrogance projection.

The language of ‘I told you so’ is a demonstration that the speaker knows nothing about learning. Lecturing and telling are the worst methods to facilitate learning.

This is why the average induction and toolbox talk don’t work. This is why most of the training delivered through ‘war stories’ and boring ‘safety goop’, don’t work. This is why behaviourism doesn’t work. The model of inputs and outputs is NOT how people learn (https://safetyrisk.net/a-definition-of-learning-a-video/ ). Yet, telling is the dominant mode of ‘communication’ in Safety. Indeed, this is NOT communication.

Nothing is more damning to the safety industry than this silly useless saying ‘I told you so’!

This saying is equally as dumb as ‘safety is a choice you make’, ‘all accidents are preventable’ and ‘zero harm’. All of these sayings have the underlying assumption of behaviourism and the shaming of others from a position of arrogance.

When someone makes a mistake there are a thousand reasons (influences) why, none of which Safety shows any interest (https://safetyrisk.net/it-is-not-my-responsibility-to-keep-you-safe/). For example, there is nothing in the AIHS BoK on learning. The focus of Safety is on content, not the process of learning.

The declaration ‘I told you so’! simply alienates others, demonstrates ignorance about learning and fosters a culture of safety arrogance and schadenfreude in the workplace.


‘I told you so’ is a statement about oneself NOT a statement about the other.

‘I told you so’ is a projection of arrogance NOT a statement of personhood.

A great recipe for a toxic culture of safety.

‘I told you so’! could just as easily be evidence that what Safety does, doesn’t work! Rather than projecting at others what Safety really should be questioning is, ‘why are my methods of learning so ineffective?’

Oh no, this is not the question Safety asks. It couldn’t possible be that I have no idea about learning or what learning is. It couldn’t possibly be that behaviourism doesn’t work. It couldn’t possibly be that Safety knows little about learning. It couldn’t possibly be that humans are not objects nor psychosocial states are a ‘hazard.

No, ‘I told you so’! demonstrates that safety doesn’t question its own worldview and has little interest in learning.

To learn about learning, one needs to step outside the Safety worldview to a Transdisciplinary worldview (https://safetyrisk.net/transdisciplinary-thinking-in-risk-and-safety/). This means consulting disciplines that challenge the Safety worldview. Disciplines that know that zero is nonsense.

If you are interested in learning more outside of the ‘safety box’ (https://safetyrisk.net/the-safety-suggestion-box/) the following in SPoR are available:

These workshops will help you move away from: the engineering/behaviourism/positivism approach to safety, identifying with Safety and the myth of objectivity and, discover methods that actually work to humanise risk (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/it-works-a-new-approach-to-risk-and-safety/).

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