Tag Archives: critical

Tinker, Taylor…

The old English nursery rhyme "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor" was adapted as title for John LeCarre's 1974 spy novel. Its main character, George Smiley, first fired, then reinstated, is the Beggar Man of the rhyme. At some point, he is involved in an operation called "Witchcraft", forcing a Soviet mole to reveal his identity. Smiley, naturally, becomes the hero. I have often written of a hero of our engineered world, Isaac Newton. He, after all, conceived of a world of laws and determinacy, a predictable world … Continue Reading ››

Can safety renew itself?

Immanuel_Kant_3Is the safety profession uniquely incapable of renewing itself? For a profession that is organized around the elimination, reduction and control of risk, innovation can be a tall order. Innovation means taking risk. It requires a critique and a questioning of assumptions that underly our practices. Such a critique, such questioning, can be unwelcome. These are assumptions and practices, after all, that (many believe) have got us to where we are today, that keep many of us in … Continue Reading ››

History of Health and Safety

Reading booksDo we really understand where we are in health and safety? There is a not so famous Churchillian quote that “A nation that does not understand its history has no future”. Winston Churchill was first and foremost a consummate historian. He used his knowledge of the trend of events in the past to predict future events. He wasn’t perfect at it and he got some things wrong (Gallipoli, the independence of India and the UK’s National Health Service) but … Continue Reading ››

The blue pill or the red pill

matrixWhen the movie 'The Matrix' was released in 1999 I was blown away by not only the plot, but also the visual effects. I associated with the film, its story, and ultimately – that there is no spoon. I’m sure that I’m not the only one that associates their beliefs with other films. I’m sure there are plenty of people that love the Da Vinci Code for example – those films that seem to challenge … Continue Reading ››

What about idiots?

file0001612800212[1]In early 2013 a group of Australian miners choreographed and performed their rendition of the ‘Harlem Shake’, a music video that has stimulated 100s of similar dances to be uploaded to YouTube. Deep underground, the miners dressed down some of their PPE and free styled in front of the camera. When Barminco, the operator of the mine, learned about the dance venture, they sent a dismissal letter to 15 workers involved in the making of the video. … Continue Reading ››

Lessons from the UK’s Peak District

file000767648536Question – What have limestone quarries in the UK’s Yorkshire and Derbyshire, and Health & Safety got in common? Answer – Apart from silicosis (which has now been addressed by wet cutting techniques), they have absolutely nothing in common. One produces a range of tough resilient building materials generically referred to as ‘aggregates’; the other produces a bland compliant uniform and weak structure. But before reaching fingers to keyboard in protest at such an outlandish comparison, please take time … Continue Reading ››

Can you handle the truth?

file000817447890Safety today has arrived at a place where we can’t handle to truth, we are not interested in the science, nor are we informed by evidence. We have become religious zealots. Anyone that challenges the dogma, is subjected to hysteria and condemnation. We collect data that has been corrupted through performance incentives and for the most part we base of our actions and conclusions on emotion that is suffocated and cloaked in zero harm rhetoric. When we look … Continue Reading ››

You can have your cake and eat it

file0001645959371Safety is Our Number One Priority! Do they think we are stupid or what? Such a company slogan is one of the most illogical and naively transparent statements to make. If not hurting people in the workplace really was the number one priority the company would shut down and voluntarily go into liquidation – and then we would starve to death. As a former construction manager now turned academic my cynicism is founded on experience. What the … Continue Reading ››

Behaviour Based Safety

file000684519545For those who have been under a rock for the last near decade or so, Behavioural Based Safety (BBS) is an approach to safety that focuses on workers' behaviour as the cause of most work-related injuries and illnesses. I consider that people that swear by BBS programs are under a similar rock just a few metres away. Over the last quarter of a century we have learnt much about the roots of human failure. There are many of … Continue Reading ››

The appification of safety

circuitryDuring a dinner with friends the other evening, the topic of conception was raised with one, who was pregnant, and ended up being a funny story around an iPad app. The app was used to track her menstrual cycle after going off the pill, where the cycle was mapped and would advise of ovulation and fertility periods. As the story goes, the app was tracking the cycle pretty well, but she still fell pregnant outside … Continue Reading ››