A Moral Dilemma for Safety
Morals and Ethics are NOT the same thing, despite what the ‘Micky Mouse’ chapter on Ethics in the AIHS BoK states ( p.1).
It is critical that the difference between moral and ethics be defined and understood, particularly in understanding the way Safety dehumanizes persons. What a strange industry that wants to prevent harm and then in the process of safety harms people. This is because Safety doesn’t understand that Ethics is about systemic morality and principles of justice, whereas Morality is about the non-systemic understanding of ‘the Good’. An understanding of the distinction between both is essential for professionalism.
The reason why the AIHS BoK Chapter on Ethics wants to blend the two is because it understands the act of safety as policing rules and the Duty of Safety to control objects. A moral focus on what is Good for persons holds in tension the demand for rules with the demands of communal/social life. Ethics has a focus on systems and Morals has a focus on persons. And, on many occasions people in safety experience this tension in what is demanded of a person in the safety industry. Yet, Safety has no language to understand or articulate the predicament they are put in.
I was talking to a group of Brazilians yesterday on Zoom who are undertaking the SEEK Program. One of the participants told a story of how he was required by the GM to extract a response from an employee in hospital, the day after an event. The system demanded that an investigation be undertaken and that information was required within a certain time frame. Morally, there was no consideration for the trauma, grief, suffering, loss or distress of the person. So, it is possible to be systemically right (obey the employer as per code of ethics) but morally wrong in the needs of the person.
So, in our SEEK session we had many people trained in safety who have been required to undertake incident investigations, many have done iCam, tap root, 5 whys and other nonsense methods that have no moral consideration or associated training. Of all the people on the screen who were chatting none had any education at all in understanding trauma, loss, grief or distress which of course means they are unprepared and not competent for what is being asked of them, and this is a moral problem. The best answer to a GM who asks you to take a response for a person in trauma or distress is: I am not qualified or trained to do what you ask.
If Safety was a profession it would not so poorly educate its people and then require them to behave immorally in the name of Good. The use of the word ‘Good’ in this sense implies an understanding of Aristotelian Ethics (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-ethics/ ). You can guarantee there is no foundational study of Ethics globally in the safety industry. And for the AIHS BoK, this foundational Discipline comes in at Chapter 38.3. despite the fact that the Chapter itself declares Ethics as foundational for professionalism. Oh yes, but the word ‘professional’ rolls of the mouths of Safety as if it has meaning and, if you use the word it creates the impression that Safety is ethical. What a shock it is then for people to be brutalized by this industry in the name of Good.
If you want to understand an Ethic of Risk you might want to register here: https://safetyrisk.net/humanising-safety-free-virtual-conference/
An Ethic of Risk is foundational for any profession (https://safetyrisk.net/a-professional-ethic-of-risk/ ), just not Safety. There is a big difference for a nurse in what the Hospital requires and the moral Good in being professional, the two cannot be mixed together as does the AIHS BoK. Of course, the AIHS BoK Chapter itself uses the language of both terms differently thereby contradicting the argument of the Chapter. More ‘word salad’. The Chapter makes no mention of zero, the global mantra for safety and the darling love child for brutalism (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/for-the-love-of-zero-free-download/ ). BTW, my friends from Brazil are currently translating For the Love of Zero into Portuguese so that the industry there can confront this toxic ideology.
So, in order to better understand the distinction between Ethics and Morality let’s explore the way in which morality is anchored to personality. You can read more about this here: https://psyche.co/ideas/your-sense-of-right-and-wrong-is-interwoven-with-your-personality
Similarly, if you would like to study more deeply about Ethics, then this is a good place to start: https://www.utilitarianism.com/history-ethics.pdf Of course, we know that such books are unknown to an industry that doesn’t understand its own ‘ethos’.
We know from many studies in personality that orientation (ontology) disposition and worldview drive moral being. This is why most people in safety are unprepared for any form of event analysis, unless it only considers the failure of an object.
We know that certain personality types view the world differently from those around them which is why organisations create uniformity through a Code of Ethics. In many ways, a stated ethic can be in conflict with personal-ity and, it is critical for professionals to understand why.
I have a friend who recently applied for work who is an anti-vaxxer for a job delivering vaccines. Hmmm, and Safety tells me Ethics and Morality (p.1 AIHS BoK Ethics) are the same thing?
A disconnect between Ethics and Morality is the foundation for all moral dilemmas. When we blur the meaning between the two words and then use them differently, we are playing games with linguistics and unfortunately Safety is so good at that (https://safetyrisk.net/deciphering-safety-code/ ). Eg. Zero never means zero. More ‘word salad’.
One of the first things in safety that one is indoctrinated is that words have no meaning. A basic understanding of Linguistics shows that such a view is dangerous (https://cllr.com.au/product/linguistics-flyer-unit-21/). A lack of understanding of linguistics is a hotbed for propaganda. Just listen and watch all this stuff from global safety on zero for a lesson in gobbledygook (https://safetyrisk.net/zero-vision-creates-mindless-gobbledygook/; https://safetyrisk.net/zero-discourse-as-gobbledygook/ ). Just listen or watch this ‘word salad’ and then try to anchor the word ‘professional’ to it!
When we study An Ethic of Risk in SPoR (https://cllr.com.au/product/an-ethic-of-risk-workshop-unit-17-elearning/ ) we explore the many critical factors missing from safety that could make it professional.