Perfectionism in Safety and the Denial of Humanity

by Dave Collins on April 12, 2014



Perfectionism in Safety and the Denial of Humanity

Article by Dr Rob Long from www.humandymensions.com in response to Safety Under Construction

What a bizarre claim that someone can guarantee no accidents, no mistakes, no harm and that ‘100% zero harm is the irrefutable future coming towards the construction industry like a speeding train’. This is the nonsense of the previous post on this blog. Then claim that they have ‘solved’ the ‘problem’ of human fallibility. How more bizarre to then call such a publication ‘Under Construction’, even more bizarre that the word ‘innovation’ is associated with simplistic and anti-human ideology. Let’s be clear here, perfectionism is a mental health disorder and any discourse that espouses the language of perfectionism is dangerous for the well being of persons. If you want to observe a dysfunctional person, just watch a perfectionist trying to live in an imperfect world. Denial is just as dysfunctional.

Why is it that the risk and safety industry cannot get the very basics of anthropology, that is, what it is to be human? Why is the industry so attracted to nonsense language such as ‘incident free future’? I doubt any of us could get out of bed, make a coffee, drive to work and have lunch before we has some ‘incident’. Humans are not machines nor robots and any wish to make us so, robs from us of the very fundamentals of being. Mistakes are not evil. Being human is not a ‘problem’. Mistakes are characteristic of being human and are essential for such things as learning, humility, trust and respect for others. There is no value in wanting people to be dispassionate and non-people. Hallinan’s book Why We Make Mistakes should be essential reading for these people who think that no error, no mistakes and no ‘weird things’.

Let’s then look at this bizarre idea from the book that motivation is simply the sum of fear and pain. Again, just nonsense. If this proposition is true how do these people explain suicide terrorists or a host of over highly motivated people in addictions that act neither to the dictates of fear or pain? Please let’s get away from more simplistic stuff in this industry. Fear and pain are only two of many factors that drive human decision making. Maybe start by reading something intelligent on the psychology of motivation like Higgin’s book Beyond Pleasure and Pain. Again, we don’t need more simplistic binary opposition nonsense in the risk and safety sphere. Instead, we need a much more sophisticated understanding of perception, motivation, imagination, communication and social psychology or this industry will never rise above such nonsense as projected by this book.



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