Real Harm, Real Risk and The Safety Way

Real Harm, Real Risk and The Safety Way

imageOne of the by-products of the zero delusion is the way it focuses the safety industry on petty ‘pissy’ risk.

As long as Safety adores and identifies as Zero ( ), it can never mature, understand risk or be professional.

Whilst Safety runs about like a mad chook worrying about paper cuts, MTIs and sprained ankles, the ‘Freedom to Harm’  rages on unabated.

As long as Safety constructs its non-ethic as compliance and duty ( to structures of power, it will never make a difference to The Freedom to Harm. (McGarity, 2013) (

And when the Freedom to Harm myth is ever uncovered one thing is for sure, Safety is never at the table, when the real professionals are.

If you want to see what the Freedom to Harm looks like just watch any of the following:

As long as Zero (= Safety) freaks out about petty risk, hazards, slips, trips and falls, its focus will always be on delusional nonsense. Meanwhile, the Freedom to Harm rages on under the certainty that it will never be bothered by Safety.

When compliance to regulation, certainty in zero and duty to power is the unethical discourse of Safety, it will never apply the blowtorch where it matters most.

Indeed, as long as Safety has no curriculum in: ethics, critical thinking, critical discourse analysis, a mature understanding of culture, the construction of semiosis, understanding language/linguistics and understanding politics, it will always be looking at petty risk as its core business thereby, enabling the harm of millions in the name of good.

Let’s have a look at a few examples.

Example One. DuPont.

We should know that the darlings and creators of Zero were DuPont. When your religious approach to zero is symbolized in the Bradley Curve, you should know there is a distraction somewhere. Whenever anyone asks you to believe the impossible, you ought to know there’s a scam somewhere (

Little did we know that the champions of zero were freely making merry harm whilst preaching the righteousness of zero ( And you know what? They are still at it:

It’s as if all this harm is committed to history and there is a new look. The spin hasn’t even changed. Simply shift the target, bring in 2 more zeros and you have 000, similar to the global zero symbol but you need to know in Australia, triple zero is the call for help.

And here is poor olde Safety unable to think critically, ethically or politically, sucked in once again by spin, propaganda and marketing. It’s no different than the discourse of 1% safer (, it’s the same discourse. When you’re selling infallibility, there’s bound to be some safety suckers with money.

Here’s a little tip, if you see anything safety packaged as numerics, metrics, targets or ‘believe the impossible’, apply a little ethical critical thinking and you will soon find it’s a delusion.

If you really want to be good at safety, start by believing what’s possible rather than take the religious way of believing the impossible.

Example Two. Purdue Pharma

If you want to understand how Freedom to Harm works ( just watch Dopesick or The Crime of the Century.

It’s so easy to harm millions just like DuPont, and inflict misery on millions all in the name of good when your mantra is zero. The secret is, just get Safety to keep asking the wrong questions (

Ah, the makers of Oxycontin ( knew that spin, propaganda, duty and compliance were the perfect ingredients to harm. There’s nothing better than a deontological ethic to enable the Freedom to Harm (

The Freedom to Harm thrives on deontological ethics, the love child of Safety. The last thing Freedom to Harm wants is critical thinking, political thinking or ethical thinking. Of course, these show up nowhere in any safety curriculum.

So, when it comes to Freedom to Harm the professions show up to interrogate corruption, greed, fraud and dishonesty, but Safety isn’t there.

Example Three. Big Tobacco

The key to understanding the Freedom to Harm is discerning propaganda/spin from Real Risk ( Discernment of the Freedom to Harm can’t be undertaken without skill development and a curriculum in ethics, politics and critical thinking – all three feared by the zero-safety industry. Much better to keep a hazard register and count injury rates.

This is how the Tobacco industry was able to delay the inevitable as Merchants of Doubt:

All of their harm was undertaken in the name of spin, propaganda, slick linguistics and marketing. And Safety has no skills to discern any of it.

The key to understanding the Freedom to Harm is being intelligent about linguistics, semiotics, politics, ethics, discourse analysis and risk.

How interesting that when Safety defines culture and ‘safety culture’, it never includes language/discourse as a key element of culture. It’s always about systems and behaviour, never about what matters most. No wonder Safety loves behaviourism ( ). Behaviourism ensures nothing changes and that brutalism can be maintained in the name of good.

Example Four. Rio Tinto

Just one more organization that loves zero is Rio Tinto. The same organization that blew up Juukan Gorge and systematically abuses women . There you go, no harm to be seen here. No band aids out of the first aid kit, no slips trips and falls, nothing to be concerned about. Just fill out your SWMS, pay homage to Zero ( ) and nothing to see here.


These are only four examples, there are many more, if you have the eyes to Envision Risk (

But, we all know it’s a game. There is no zero harm, it’s selective harm ( There is no infallibility, there is no impossible, and believe so simply enables more Freedom to Harm.

Isn’t it interesting that you never see any of the safety associations (that adore zero) raise a single concern about the Freedom to Harm.

Whilst millions die and suffer under the mantra of zero, Safety runs about squealing about zero as if it actually means something.

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