Breaking down the separation between ethos and ethics in risk and safety

January 6, 2022



In this podcast, Dr. Rob Long and Nippin discuss about how your ethos (worldview-methodology) directs your ethic (moral system) and all methods in risk and safety evidence an underlying worldview (ethos). Such matters are rarely discussed in the safety industry. Indeed, the associations in safety never discuss their own ethic, even when they discuss ethics. This lack of transparency is unethical and fosters confusion in an industry that seeks to claim the word ‘professional’. Some critical questions need consideration:

• Can you articulate your ethos and what is your ethic of risk?
• How do you define personhood and how does this translate to your practice/power in safety?
• What is your methodology (worldview) that drives your method?

If all you are doing is filling out the checklists that someone else has designed, you are practicing the ethos of the designer, not your own. It is about time that ethics was taken seriously for the practice of safety. Methods that dehumanize persons should have no place in safety.

Further information

Nippin Anand  00:00

Welcome to another episode of embracing differences with me Nippin Anand, I want to begin this podcast with a story. A personal story when I was once invited to, into an oil company to do a course on accident investigations, and it was lunchtime. People from different departments came to join the discussion, there was supposed to be a video playing on empathy by the American professor Brene Brown. For those of you who know her, I don’t know her, she’s done some incredible work on on shame, vulnerability, empathy, and so on. So people watch that video, it was a very short video, and it was meant to, to to create some discussions and reflections. And I remember, during the session, somebody raised his hand and said, I, I’m still struggling to understand what was the message of the video, because it doesn’t quite align with our safety policies. So he couldn’t make the connection between empathy. And what was stated in the safety policies. And I think this is precisely the problem that we face today. Just because something is trending so well on social media, it appeals it sounds cool. We pick it up. And we present it to our people without giving it much thought. And I think it not only confuses people. But it also creates a culture in the organization where nobody really trusts anyone at all. And that is what I want to discuss today in this podcast. Some of you may recall that we did a webinar with Dr. Robert long, some time ago, some weeks ago, on breaking down the separation between ethos and ethics. And that is this podcast is a recording of that webinar. I’m sorry, it took a little bit long to get this to you things have been a little bit hectic for me in the last few weeks. So the question I want to ask is, or we want to ask from Rob long is, can you articulate your ethos, your worldview, the way in which you see the world? And can you make a connection between your ethos and your ethics, which is what you do when it comes to risk and safety. Similar to that empathy video that I just spoke about, is going to be an uncomfortable ride, as is with everything when it comes to learning. So enjoy the ambiguity.  Good morning, good afternoon. Very warm welcome, as they say, in whole countries. To this to the session, I am joined, I’m very, very humbled actually, that Rob took the opportuniy to reflect on reflect his views about ethos and ethics and risk and safety. And I think it would be a very interesting conversation. Rob, thank you so much for joining. I think it wouldn’t be fair, if I summarized your vast experience, I think it’s it probably is a good idea that you say a few things about yourself. Before we get into the main topic of discussion for today. Would you like to introduce yourself, Rob?


Rob Long  03:42

Yeah, sure. Um, I guess for people on the call. I didn’t come into the Risk and Safety world to 20 years ago. So I commenced my career in 1971. When I first exited university with my first degree, quite some time ago now 1971 Even back then I was I was reading a quite significant materials in social psychology. But just to summarize quickly, since 1971, and, and, and forward I’ve worked in quite a number of sectors in separate careers. So I’ve had seven different careers. So distinctly different careers in education, social work, community services, government and non government services, youth work. I founded my own special program for delinquent high needs young people, which is still going today. And I also have a career in theology and non government services. So when I came into the Risk and Safety world 20 years ago, was directly after the camber bushfires when 600 homes were destroyed by bushfire here. And it became a bit of a bit of a bit of a a moment in my life when I thought now it’s time to jump. And so I jumped out of that. And then I’ve been involved in the Risk and Safety world now for for about 20 years. And I must say, after working in, in five different professions, preceding risk and safety, I have come into this world. And I don’t have words to explain what I’ve encountered. I think that world of risk and safety doesn’t know much about itself, because it’s quite insular, and it’s quite closed. And I would call it a mono disciplinary type activity. I won’t use the word profession, I never use the word profession, because I don’t think the risk and safety world is professional in what it does. I don’t think it’s ethical in what it does. And so I came into this world of risk and safety from these other careers. And I’ve been involved in that for 20 years. So I’ve written 11 books on this unique approach social psychology of risk. I’ve done many, many different things, I’m not going to go into the detail if you’re interested in that. It’s all on the internet, don’t, don’t bother. So that will do me for an introduction.


Nippin Anand  06:35

But also, Rob, is a little story behind it. And I must say this in 2016, inspired by your bio good work, whilst I was still doing audits and inspections and surveys on ships, so I once wrote to you, I could I could never get into terms with this idea of zero accidents. He was so kind to send me four books, from all the way from Australia. And that kind of changed my life in many ways. I started to think so much more deeply about those things. But off late, you have been mentoring me, you’ve been coaching me, I have learned so much from you. So I wanted to just thank you, at many, many levels, before we even start this conversation, such such a so much to learn from you. Yes, I must say, thank you. Also, we didn’t know we didn’t podcast together. And I think the podcast we did a few months ago was one of the most cited one of the most listened to podcasts. So. So obviously, there are a lot of people who are very interested to hear your views. And that’s the reason I wanted to bring you in. And there’s a testimony to it, because somebody just put it in the chat window- Tanya. She woke up at 3:30 in the morning from Canada to listen to your prayers, your views. Obviously, it means a lot to many people that you are joining us today. So thank you at many levels. Yes. Thank you, Rob Let’s start with the discussion. I don’t think one hour will do justice. But maybe let’s let’s see where we get to at the end of this conversation. What I would like everyone who’s listening is that you will feel uncomfortable. And that’s that’s absolutely good, because that’s where learning really lives. And if you have any questions or comments, we will try to capture as many as we can so put it in the question and answer session, not in the chat window, I will not be looking at the chat window, I will only look at questions and answers. But once the webinar ends, we will put it into some sort of a podcast and I will try to answer some of the questions or we will try to answer some of the questions you raise or at least reflect upon them and on the LinkedIn platform. So heavy start, then, Rob, tell us what is it that you want to to achieve? What is it that you want to convey in the next few minutes?


Rob Long  08:54

That’s a good question. Because I’m the guy I think one of the things that drives what I do, you might call it an ontology. You might call it a reason for being we all have a reason for being. And I think my whole life, and I’m now semi retired and reflecting much more, enjoying my grandchildren more and less involved in the day to day stuff of safety and emergencies and things I used to be involved in. I’ve always been convicted in my life to help people learn. So in my very first degree, so I have five degrees, but my very first degree was in learning and education. And I started in 1971. Back then, very much convicted by the fact that my job was to facilitate my own learning but also sharing the Learning about us to help others learn. And so even if people are upset with me, because I provoke them, I’m actually quite happy if they’re provoked. Because without some provocation, we’re all very, very comfortable. The truth is, the fact is, if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re probably not learning. So, again, if you were to remember to go back to your childhood, perhaps you’re in primary school or even earlier, you know, the purpose of that teacher is not to assure that you’re comfortable where you are, the purpose of that teacher is to help you move. And all learning is about movement. If you’re not movement moving, if you are static, you’re not learning. And so all learning is movement, and all movement is learning. And that doesn’t happen without a degree of discomfort. And so, you know, I find it quite odd. I don’t deliberately upset people. It’s not I don’t go around deliberately upsetting people. All I do is I simply respond to questions. Sorry, I’ve just people ringing me, I just respond to I just simply respond to people’s questions at the time. So if you ask me a question about ethos, I don’t turn on some special kind of a facade. I just answer from the heart from my worldview. And my worldview is shaped by all of those things that have created this formation, social psychology, theology, education and learning, and and those kinds of things. So I have three postgraduate degrees and two undergraduate degrees and a number of postgraduate diplomas. They simply only the academic work which have supported this basic ontological drive, which I had, from a very young age, that it’s not about the facilitation of knowledge, it’s about the facilitation of learning. I don’t have to know everything to to. And Socrates did this very much as well. A Socratic question is often a question that reflects on your question, and I do that a lot. You may ask me a question. And then I will question why you’ve asked me the question. And that makes people uncomfortable. The trouble is, I find in the Risk and Safety world, where most people want to be comfortable, because they want compliance and they want certainty. If you want certainty, then you don’t want learning. If you can embrace uncertainty, then you can embrace risk. If you can embrace risk, then you can learn. But if your purpose in life is to diminish and suppress risk, then you’re also suppressing learning. And so there’s really, there’s that paradox there. And so, I’ve been doing that for 50 years. So yeah, does that does that that’s my answer.


Nippin Anand  13:16

Yeah, totally. And you talk about a does I mean, it makes all the sense in my world, Rob. So moving on to the very specific idea of ethos and ethics in risk and safety. Let’s start with to the listeners who probably don’t come from some of them don’t come from the academic background. Let’s try to find what what is what is the meaning of ethos and ethics? And why why the disconnect between the two?


Rob Long  13:45

Okay, so a lot of people use both words, and don’t know what they mean. It’s a bit like in the Risk and Safety world I haven’t seen. I in fact, I haven’t seen a decent definition of culture anywhere globally, of the idea of culture. So you’re not going to get it about ethos either. So the the if you go back to the, the, the the root of the meaning of the word ethos, ie, it’s about who you are, it’s about your being. So your ethos is very much, it’s even more than your view of the world. Because ethos is not just about some cognitive idea. It’s about your complete personhood. And because of this personhood, I do this, it precedes doing. And so ethics is often about systemic morality. And so when we talk about a code of ethics, or what is your ethic, we need to draw a very, very strong difference between ethics and your moral, your moral drive. So your ethos is very much about your determining being what it is to be. And so for example, if I was to my wife for, for example, it has been a piano teacher for 50 years, she teaches everything from beginner grade right up to concert piano level. So she’s been a piano teacher. She’s also synesthetic, which is quite interesting because she has a gift. And it’s a quite unconscious, inexplicable gift. So if you play a note, even if it is a clap, or a tingle on a glass, she knows what that note is, and can name it, right. Because she feels music, it’s in her being. So her ethos is a musical ethos. And from out of that ethos comes an ethic right now in between the ethos, which is our theory of being what gives us purpose and meaning in our life. That’s, that’s where ethos is, from that purpose of meaning in our life, we then develop two things, we don’t develop a sense of morality, and that’s tied to culture, it’s tied to heredity, it’s tied to how you’re brought up, your children, your birthplace, your your, your connection, or non connection to symbolic myth, symbol, religion, etc, all that stuff. So even the absence of that even an atheistic background will give you a theistic view. So, so all of those things that shape, your moral drive, which can be completely out of sync with an ethical declaration by an organization is connected to your ethos, so your center of being. So for example, let’s say for example, you were brought up a very, very strict Catholic. That’s not my background, but but let’s say you were, and you were brought up in some very strict traditions. In a very strict culture, you have a very quite specific moral sense of values and, and right and wrong, what should be. And let’s say for example, you grow up and you become a medical doctor. And the only job that’s offered to you is one in a non Catholic Medical Center, where they have an ethical policy that supports the notion of euthanasia and abortion. That’s considered completely inconsistent with their personal individual and cultural morality. Right? So morality and ethics are very, very different. Yep. Very, very different. So don’t go and read the Australian Institute of Health and Safety body of knowledge book on ethics, because it tells you there’s no difference, which shows that the industry of safety not only is not professional, it doesn’t even know the difference between morality and ethics. But when it comes to talk about ethics, because all the Institute of safety wants to do is to prove a deontological ethic, which is compliance and duty are all you have to comply to. And that’s very, very clear when you read that chapter in their body of knowledge. Clearly not written by an ethicist, clearly not written by anyone who knows anything about ethics. So when we get this different view, let’s go back to our medical doctor brought up as a Catholic has a strong personal moral conviction. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, I’m just saying that’s their ontology. They will need to look for congruence between an ethic which is a systemic morality and their own morality, which is tied much much more to their culture, heredity, civilize ation, their history, their background, their family, etc. So we need to really understand that ethos is more tied to that, that moral formation. And ethic is more tied to the app working or the systematizing of a morality. But your ethos is your fundamental reason for being your purpose and your meaning in life.


Nippin Anand  19:42

So much to think about, and I’m thinking as you’re speaking, Rob, you you also made a statement that this is something unique to the safety and risk world. If you look at professions, you know, those that disconnect or the misalignment does not exist, it’s not as As amplified, why would you say that? What, what, what what makes you think that way?


Rob Long  20:06

I find it absolutely fascinating. And this is this is kind of a, I was looking at up at a website today that was selling at safety templates, right? It’s an organization, million dollar billion dollar organization in Australia. And they make all their money selling templates. So it’s just forms, it’s just, you can have them electronic or paper based, you can print them out and put your, your company’s logo on them. You can print out whatever you like. And they proudly list on their website that they have 15,000 Different checklists, you can download. Well, now, okay, so you can download all of these checklists. And yet not one moment, think about what was the driving ethical or moral foundation for the creation of the design of that form. You don’t care, just fill it out, you check the box, and someone’s happy a regulator or an auditor. But at no time, does the risk and safety work consider that that form has a bias? It’s not objective, there is no form that’s objective. Every form has a designer, I don’t care if you design a spreadsheet, or design some table of some sort, to to check risk and safety in an organization. If you grab a template, you’re not actually using your own brain, you’re actually just simply adopting what someone else designed from their ethos from their worldview. And then they produced a method and you just copy it. Now, why is it this this risk and safety world does not think that that’s a problem. Because if something goes wrong, and you go to a court, someone dies, or there’s been a bad accident, and you end up in a court of law, if you’re found to just be a replicator of templates, you’re in big trouble. Because the court wants to know, how you thought and what you thought about in engaging risk. And so we have this crazy industry, which is completely tick and flick, because this organization, recently, on the Australian Stock Exchange, just got venture capital for $2 billion to expand what they’re doing, right? I think all of it should be illegal. If you have not developed your own process of how to tackle risk and safety, then you’re using someone else’s philosophy, you’re using someone else’s ethos, you’re using someone else’s method. And what’s hidden behind it is their philosophy, their methodology, or their ethos in it, and then I just think, Wow, what an amazing industry that doesn’t think carefully about that design. Now, if you were going into a profession, like school teaching or or social work, they are very, very aware of the methodology that underpins method. You go into the Risk and Safety world, no one’s even asking the question. No one’s even asking the question, what is the methodology that underpins this method, and then someone sets you up, it’s zero, or you’re in trouble. So, you’ve now got a method and the whole purpose and meaning of the method is locked into an ideology that says that no accidents are possible. That’s interesting, because your insurance company will disagree with you immediately. And and and so on we go. So, the risk and safety industry seems completely oblivious to philosophy, ideology, methodology, or the the the underpinnings and the foundations of lots of things that they use. And there is nothing in the Risk and Safety world that is designed. That is not coming from a methodology from an idea from an ideology. Yet we seem to grab all these templates and designs we fill out the template. We’ve done our job. remarkable, remarkable.


Nippin Anand  24:48

Excellent. This is so good. I’m just loving it now. I’ll give you a simple example. My daughter actually was tested positive for Coronavirus some few weeks ago, and I got a call from from the from the NHS, one of the nurses. And the first question that was asked was that how was she? Is she doing Okay? So I think in one way, they must have a protocol when they when they when they approach you, when you you tested positive? And I guess what I’m trying to say is in one way, what you’re saying is that, even at a very unconscious level, the ethos is so connected with the ethics. So somebody must have thought that this is this is the most important question to ask, even before you start to ask the details of what the patient is going through. And I guess it’s something along those lines is what you’re trying to say, am I right?


Rob Long  25:48

Yes, um, look, I’m running. I’m currently running a philosophy module, philosophy module for safety people, right. And it’s packed out, we do it every Wednesday morning. And every single person, every single person online, in the module, has never thought about any of the things I put to them before any of it. Now, some of them have undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in risk and safety. And nothing I put forward to them has ever been considered I know it sounds funny, but you know, lots of people into the Risk and Safety world, because this underlying passion, which gives them a meaning and purpose, because they come into it, because they think they make a difference, because I’ll be saving lives and stuff like that, right? And, and they bring this passion into it. And yet behind that passion. And what you do is the methodology, around reason for being, and yet, I’ve never spoken to one risk and safety person who can clearly articulate their philosophy, or their ethic, or their ontology, or their ethos, it is simply not in the Risk and Safety curriculum anywhere. Let me tell you something, if and I’ve done this many, many times, you’re you’re you’ve got your first cohort of school teaching students, it’s their first session, their very first year, they’re doing a four year degree, a Bachelor of Education, and they want to be a school teacher, right? From that very first lecture. Yep. They are confronted with dozens of educational philosophies. Reasons for being to be a teacher, what kind of teacher will you be, what kind of educator will be? What kind of system of learning will you favor, none of that is part of any educational training of a safety person. And so I hear all these scientific the word, the word professional drips out of their mouth, like it’s a conjunction to join words, you’ll never hear me say that word. Because until the Risk and Safety world develops an ethic and starts to get interested in the methodology behind its methods, it will never be professional. That’s if you go to a teacher, they will tell you what their teaching methodology is, and that will back their method. And so methodology and methods are not the same thing. A methodology is the philosophy that drives your method. And most western people safety people don’t even know that it and that it’s now in the studies. I mean, I remember 10 years ago, I wrote a paper and called for a complete reform of the safety industries, studies and formation process. I asked for a complete re formation of the curriculum. If I had my way I would throw out 95% of what’s in current safety. You’d agree 95% Yep. Because safety degree is not there to teach you how to think it teaches you how to make sausages. That’s it.


Nippin Anand  29:18

Fascinating. You make me thinking Rob I am at loss for words, but there is so much to take from the I’d probably need some some some guidance from you now as to how to move forward from there. What do you think we should be doing? Well, the question that I was thinking about as you were speaking, Rob, was that there is a lot of movement as we call it in the safety world. New View, safety II, Safety differently. What are your views about that? How do you think about this, this change that is happening right now?


Rob Long  30:05

Interestingly, I’m not particularly thrilled with it, because there’s no fundamental change. Some wonderful branding, but no change in worldview. So the worldview is still focused on this scientist, engineering, mechanistic production of systems. Yep. And when it talks about human factors, it sees humans as a factor in a system that is completely alien to me, I have no idea what you’re talking about. And so the focus remains on systems. And it’s highly imbalanced towards this, this complete focus on systems. And so I see all the language about S II safety differently 123456. I don’t care what it is, if your worldview does not shift, it’s the same. All you’re changing is the cosmetics that come out of it. The methods are same, the methodology is the same. There is no fundamental questioning of the current orthodox worldview, which is a deontological view of risk and safety. So here’s a simple question for you. Who in the whole of the S II safety, do whatever brand you have, who was written about the nature of ethics in that genre? How just one? No, no one. What does that say? You see, there’s no interest in it. Because they’re formed by this idealogical connection to the same foundation of safety, traditional engineering, I mean, in the Australian Association, and sorry, American Association of safety engineers, it used to be called, they changed the name two years, three years ago, to the American Association of safety professionals, AASP, right? They simply sweeps engineers from professionals. But do you think it’s any different? No, it’s a same focus. So I’ll give you a good example. We have a huge five year coronal inquiry, called the dreamworld disaster here in Australia, on the Gold Coast, and Adventure Park, four people died in a in a rapid river ride, right? Okay. Who do you think came in? For the coronial  Inquiry? Nine different people were called in to do examination, critical inquiry and interrogation of the event. So an investigation, right? Eight engineers, no safety people, not one person from the safety world, and a clinical psychologist. That was it. And so if you read the report, that’s what we do. We’re still in the sausage of engineering. And if you read across the development of systems, and and forms and all the things we’re currently using in risk and safety, whether it be in investigations, or whatever we’re doing, it’s still the worldview of engineering, nothing has moved. And when you listen to the language of the S II safety differently, people just listen to their language. It’s the same language, the language has not changed.


Nippin Anand  33:53

Can you articulate on that? Because I find that that’s very, very, very interesting. Why you don’t see the shift in language. Can you give me a good example?


Rob Long  34:03

Yes. So, so Okay, so safety definitely got these three slogans developed by Sidney Decker. The first slogan is, people are not an object to control. They’re a resource to harness right. That’s one of the slogans what do we do with a harness? We’re controlling an animal with a harness, we put a bit in mouth or a dog harness or we control a child with the harness. So what the first slogan says from decorous people are not an object to control. They’re an object to control and no one gets it. The language is the same. There is no difference. Go look it up. Don’t take my word for it. Go straight to the safety. Definitely website. The website, look at the three slogans people are not object to control. They are resources to harness it. So it’s the same language. There’s no difference. I’ll tell you right now, I am not an object or a resource for you to harness, because the language is power to who I’m not interested. That is, that is not my anthropology. I am not here for some person in a business to put a bit in my mouth and control me as some subjective ordinance or object with which they can control. And this comes from the slogans of safety differently. So, so don’t get me started on them. I don’t like I just, if there was a difference, I’d love to see it.


Nippin Anand  35:44

Well I mean, my idea really was to explore the the reason why you say so. There’s a lot in there, I think you have written on it very, very, very extensively. And we will share those those findings from you. At the end of this, this podcast, I’m conscious of the time, Rob, I think we’ve had some great discussion. So just as we move forward, now that you have highlighted some some really interesting gaps here. How do we how do we move move from here now? What not? What do we have a safety professionals?


Rob Long  36:19

Well, okay, well, I don’t even use the word. It’s, I find it so interesting. Use the word safety professionals, because it’s now become so automatic, we don’t think about what it means. Okay. So let’s, I’ll talk about the safety industry, right? And I always do, there are several things. None of the association’s IRS need Bosch, IHS, NH, whoever they are, are thinking for two seconds, about the fundamental philosophical basis of what safety is. No, there’s no thought about it, because there’s no shift in curriculum either. So until there’s a shift in curriculum, and what we spoon feed people with, which is not much more than indoctrination, and propaganda, and still we shift away from Mickey Mouse degree into a professional degree. There’s no way you could compare the education of a lawyer or a teacher with a safety person, there is no comparison of worked in the three sectors or worked in education in the three sectors, there is no comparison, right? You cannot compare the three. So a curriculum shape, that’s one shaping and changing the curriculum, but we’re afraid to do that. We’re so locked into compliance, we’re so locked into certainty. So that’s the first one. The second one is transdisciplinarity. Getting outside of the mono discipline of safety, right. And it is a discipline in how it’s defined in a university. But you see, even you Nippin, you have got a quite broad, disciplinary background, which of course instantly makes you quite different. You’re not in that engineering sausage or that scientist sausage, you are broader, in many of the things which you access. And so unless we’re accessing a broad, disciplinary base, which is the base of of transdisciplinary Ness, how would you even know that your own language is is is religious and theological? How would you know that if you have no background in religion and theology, so I have a background in that I read all of this stuff coming out of the global industry on zero, and is completely religious. Look at their latest video they promote, called the spirit of zero, have a look at that video produced by the global risk and safety industry on what zero was about. And you could go to Hollywood, and and, and they would make something I like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. It’s like it is so religious, and so mystical and so metaphysical. It is absurd, but because there’s no broad base in the safety industry, they actually don’t know what they’re doing. But go have a look at it. I’d say to anyone here on on on here. Unless you can transverse across the disciplines and get outside of this safety blanket thing. Then the industry won’t move ahead, which is often a shock for safety people when they find themselves in a courtroom with a lawyer from a completely different discipline. And most of the education given to safety people about the law is Miss educative. It is not educational about The law, it is more an indoctrination about what safety thinks the law is. Well, if you want to shock, just wait to get your first session in court. And a lawyer carves you up and teaches you what the law is. Yep. So and so and so, you know, having worked across five distinct disciplines in my life, then coming into the Risk and Safety world, you know, I see lots of risk and safety people use the word learning, right? They use the word learning, if you say to them, what philosophy of learning Are you talking about? Oh, don’t say, Well, there’s only one. Really. In that case, you don’t know anything about learning. And so, you know, even not even knowing what indoctrination is, or not knowing what propaganda is, you know? Unless you can dig up the philosophy behind it. What’s the worldview? What’s the ethos? What’s the driving energy? What’s the purpose? What’s the meaning? You’re just stuck with a bunch of methods, and you don’t know what that driving ETHOS is? So, first one would be there needs to be a change in the curriculum. The second one needs to be in I would suggested to any safety person read outside, start reading anything outside the scope of your discipline. I don’t care anthropology, sociology, not engineering, not science, keep it out of there start getting involved in in things like ethics, personhood, what makes a human person? How do people learn start working down there? I agree that that’s what transdisciplinary we transverse. This we we transport across the disciplines, not in the blanket, one mono discipline review.


Nippin Anand  41:58

Oh, absolutely. And that is the meaning of information. Also, in some ways, you know, you’re always information. Information. Yes, absolutely. I think we have covered so much in this few minutes. I would. I know. Some people I saw some, some comments there. And they still feel insulted. I don’t know why. I find it interesting that they


Rob Long  42:24

They don’t like this perfect. You whenever you say, and you say I don’t take this professional thing, right? And then they’re offended, or I’m somehow unprofessional. Go and do some research on the nature of professions, and how a profession is defined, then go and look at the educational development of a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, a nurse, a social worker, and you tell me that safety is the same?


Nippin Anand  42:55

Yes, and that’s an interesting thing for somebody when I gave the example of the checklist, where the nurse asked the question, Is your daughter Okay, and then the the answer was that, that could very well be part of the checklist. But that’s precisely what I’m saying is part of the checklist that the ethos is aligned with the ethics. And I think that’s, that’s a that that message is so important in this conversation. there are some questions from people Let’s take a few minutes. You see, some of them, I think, again. So we started the first one. What 5% of the existing curriculum, would you keep?


Rob Long  43:34

I’m gonna answer that by telling you about an education degree. When, when a person comes into university to learn how to be a teacher, they do not teach teachers the Education Act. There is an Act of Parliament, called the Education Act, that is not taught as the foundation of education. Right. But when you do a degree in risk and safety, the whole focus is on this documentation of regulation and legislation, which is rather bizarre because you will never appear as a lawyer in court ever. So here you are giving all of this information about the act and the regulation, giving you just enough information to never be a lawyer. But to then go out and cite and think you are and then you adopt all these forms, which of course will mostly be used against you when you get in court.


Nippin Anand  44:40

Absolutely. Charles also writes that Yeah, but


Rob Long  44:43

you’re gonna you’re gonna talk to Greg Smith soon on this on this podcast. And and Greg is a lawyer. He’s a specialist in our h&s law. He will carve you up when it comes to jurisprudence. So I find it fascinating that we load up the safety degree. And then, you know, most safety people when actually go out into the field, you want to know what they really want to know about. It’s not regulation. And it’s not the legislation. It’s not even standards. They want to know how people think, why people think they do as they do, how human beings make decisions. Why do human beings make decisions the way they do? How to connect with persons? How to connect between why people do what they do, and, and why it doesn’t make sense to me, what is the psychology of human personhood and personality? Because I’ve got to now engage with these human beings on tractors and cranes and forklifts, and conveyor belts and whatever. And I’ve been giving nothing zero, nothing in my degree to do it, nothing. There is nothing in a worker safety degree that helps you become a person who engages with other people in the fundamentals of human judgment decision making. Think about that for just a minute. None. Wow.


Nippin Anand  46:16

Great Rob, this is so good. Absolutely. Let’s go to the next question. And I don’t know if you’d be able to answer all of them. Let’s try. What disciplinary backgrounds Would you include inside a large organization Safety Department?


Rob Long  46:31

Very good. That’s a great question. I was once helping an organization at higher safety people, right. And some of the best safety people I know who those who didn’t go through high school into safety, do a safety degree in intern organization. One of the best safety people I know is a guy in Melbourne, who started his career as a nurse, another great safety person I know, started his career as a youth worker. Yep. I tell you what, if you want to know what high risk is, don’t worry about a conveyor belt. Worry about an 18 year old boy, he’s got a flick knife in his back pocket, then you worry about what risk is? Yep. If you want to know what risk is, go into a maximum security jail cell with convicted murderers. And stop worrying about every single syllable, you’ll say, because any of them can kill you immediately. And I’ve had people tell me, Rob, you don’t know them about safety. You haven’t been on the back of a crane or Rob, you don’t think about safety? You haven’t been on in the bowels of a ship? And I’m thinking, how judgmental? Is safety that thinks that is what risk is? I tell you what, if you want to know what risk is, drive a taxi in my city at 2am, on a Friday night, find out what risk is there. So let’s not pass a risk and safety into these tiny little parcels of manufacturing or construction. Because risk is all of life. It’s about the uncertainty in all of what we do, and the faith and trust we place in others to tackle that risk. It’s not Oh, yes, my goodness. May I got a safe work method statement on how to lift the forklift above, you know, three meters? My God, it really is that what do you think risk is? So, you know, I think our worlds too small, I think the risk and safety is way too small. And so I would be expecting people who come into safety department to come from community services. If you want someone who knows something about learning, you won’t get our safety degree, bring someone in who’s been in the adult training, education or school sector, bring in someone who’s been from community service, who’s got life experience out of the, you know, I remember when I worked in social work, I tell you what, I’ll give you a little challenge for risk and safety person who thinks that conveyor belt continue, and I know it can try rolling up to a house to take two children from their parents, with two police behind you. And the fellow answers the door with a handgun in his hand, saying if you take my kids, I’ll kill you. And I’m not trying to compare one with the other and less. But let’s stop talking about risk as if it’s just some narrow little parcel, which we write on the JSA as if it’s not bigger than that. So if I wanted a safety department, I’d be start bringing in safety people with broad transdisciplinary education, broad worldview, broad experience beyond just you know, this narrow parcel of what we think risk and safety is and then add department would blossom. With with such a broad perspective of open minded approaches to what risk is. And at the moment, I think the industry still, I mean, I haven’t I haven’t run this a quiz we safety people say our list for me the the 10 most important words for you in risk and safety. And we just do a little audit of their language, you know, the top two words that come out all the what first hazards and control, that’s it. Hazards and control. That’s what safety is about nine hazards and control them. That’s it, which is really funny. But hazard hazard is an object.


Nippin Anand  50:37

Yeah. It is. I’m just thinking if not control, what then because that’s the that’s what an organization does, isn’t it? The organization exists to exist to control. Everything is about control. So how do we get out of this out of this way of thinking? I mean, the act of organizing, it means that you want to turn raw material into into into some sort of a product or a service. And in doing so you bring people together, and you have to control everything from the start to the end. So how do you but what you’re saying is that by when when you start to employ people from humanities from from other disciplines, bring ambiguity, they will bring uncertainty, which which is good against the purpose of the organization. So I’m just thinking, how do we how do we bring all this together?


Rob Long  51:27

Yeah. And and, look, we’ve only got an hour to talk about a very, very broad thing. And I see a comment there that says it depends on the person Well, of course it does. One of the interesting things in, in the Risk and Safety world is, is the focus on itself. You know, I would rather bring a person in who’s been a nurse or a nurse or a school teacher or social worker, and then go get them a safety diploma, then get someone who’s got a safety diploma, who’s complete life experiences, just this been his narrow channel. Look, the the the things that that that could be done, are being constrained at the moment, by the association’s, which lock in everything as it is. They don’t want to be challenged by me. They don’t want to talk to me, they would rather demonize me then have a conversation with me, because I asked questions. And I questioned the very thing, which they should be doing as associations, opening up broadening education, etc. So it’s closing down and I don’t care that it’s I Asha, whoever it is it part of the purpose of their association is this closing down. Funny thing in Australia is lots and lots of risk and safety. People don’t love belong to these any longer. They’re not helping them in their careers. They locked in to this narrow production of checklists and sausages and this sort of stuff. But it’s not broadening the base. So I don’t know a single risk and safety person who belongs to any of these. So they sift self replicate themselves, but there’s no critical thinking. There’s no contribution of sophistication to what it is to broadening the base. And until it shifts from being a club of like minded, you know, political things to a broad base thing. I can’t see any change, probably what will happen is in 20 or 30 years, someone will start up an alternate Association and compete with them, and people will join that. Probably.


Nippin Anand  53:50

Thank you, Rob. It’s very interesting to hear another question. The idea of education you talk about, Rob, is that more found outside of formal education at the moment? Is this a self directed learning?


Rob Long  54:06

self directed learning is is really what I encourage lots of people to do. I get contacted every single day, Rob, you know, wait, what’s a good book to read? Where should I go? Whatever. You know, even some of the basics I often say to people in risk and safety, you know, what’s the problem are? It’s engaging people, it’s listening to them. It’s understanding why they think how they think it’s empathy, it’s connection. I say good. Here’s his very, very basic counseling book. That is his 101 beginner for someone who does a communications degree or a community services degree at you know, anyone who has to serve the community go out and engage with difficult people that your book fantastic, and that’s where they go. You know, often say I’ve recommended to quite a number of people who Have a safety degree or diploma, to start a diploma in in one of those human person focused qualifications to broaden what they’re doing to step completely outside. And now that’s formal education. If it’s not formal education, then I’d say, look, get in touch with someone outside of this field, who who works in a job, that’s people centered, not object centered. You know, the whole purpose of a school teacher is not, you know, when it when a school teacher trains, they don’t talk about the setup of a classroom, the complete focus of a teacher, his children, his people, his his communities of children, and so on. You tried to be a safety person, and you’re told that the most important thing is to list 50,000 hazards on site and to control them. So the shift has to meet to, to the humanities or people based stuff, get to know someone outside of the context. And let’s find out how they tick. Let’s find out what drives them how they make decisions, what they focus on. And then and then you might be able to then walk out to that worker on a on a piece of equipment who you don’t like, because they don’t like you? Probably because you’ve been a policeman and and then how to engage with them. That would be a starting point, I think.


Nippin Anand  56:28

Thank you for another question. Are you aware of the the worry tapa model developed by Sir Mason duty in New Zealand, examining a holistic approach to wellbeing and then applying the holistic thinking to the world of safety?


Rob Long  56:44

Yeah, well, that’s, that’s obviously social psychology. It’s outside of safety anyway. But it’s more psychosocial than social psychology. So there’s a big difference between social psychology and psychological sociality. Yes, I am aware of that. And that’s good. Because the the the psychosocial approach is a completely different discipline outside of safety, which is why I mean, unless safety steps outside into approaches like that, and there are many similar, it will never cope with things like suicide, suicide, ideation, anxiety, depression, and some of these things which plague the Risk and Safety world, which can’t be dealt with by duty, compliance, obedience, and policing. So So yes, I’m aware of that and being outside coming in. That’s a good idea. That’s a good


Nippin Anand  57:40

Talking of which I find the whole idea absolutely absurd that we are now soon going to be having an ISO standard for mental health. Get the question on its own. It’s so worrying.


Rob Long  57:54

It will be in the industry not set up for it. You see, you can’t go to an engineer and ask them what their view is on it on mental health. Mental health, mental health is not a hazard. Stop thinking of it, like a hazard. Anyway, keep going.


Nippin Anand  58:08

Yep. It’s a very worrying thing is it seems that some issues are taboo, I will never talk about should communicating with the opposite ideas be a part of your ever developing ethos? Yes.


Rob Long  58:25

It’s like, it’s like you and I Nippin. You know, I come from a strong religious Christian background, which I don’t adopt the course I know about. You come from a strong Hindu background. And and you have that in your memory. It’s not necessarily what you adopt. But it’s something you know that in your history, you and I come together as, in many ways, opposites. But we meet in this dialectic of sharing and learning, not competing. Yep. And so, I think that’s, if you’ve got the courage, you know, to to befriend a social worker or a community worker or a lawyer, you will grow and develop, if you have that genuine will to learn from them and to listen to them, and for them to listen to you and meet in the middle.


Nippin Anand  59:21

Oh, to be honest, listening. I’ve invited so many people in the last one year, I think I’ve gained the most out of anyone, and it’s so much to absorb. What What would Rob like to see the syllabus for a safety degree? What would it look, I think this is a big question. So I’ll leave this one. This one in there a couple


Rob Long  59:43

a couple. There should be a module on ethics as a foundation. Ethics is the foundation of professionalism. Unless you say for example, it’s really really easy. If you’re doing things which dehumanize other people You’re not being ethical and you’re not being professional.


Nippin Anand  1:00:06

That is without even knowing that without even knowing that we are doing that,


Rob Long  1:00:11

there. Yeah. And there is no, if you’re a teacher, a lawyer, a social worker, doctor, your first module is ethics. Your first module in risk and safety is not ethics. In fact, there’s no degree anywhere I know of that has a module on ethics, as its foundation. So there’s your first one, the second one should be on the nature of persons. Now, I’m not psychology, it could be anthropology, but the nature of people, why are people as they are, and the social meaning we gain through groups and organizing, because most risk and safety people are part of organizations? So there’s, there’s just too, you should put in and get you. I mean, anyone can look up a regulation, why the hell do you have to learn it by rote? You know, if I go to the average school teacher, and I say to them, you know, what does the Education Act say about this? Isn’t this so that’s good. I can look it up. I got Google like you have? Yeah. Well, you can do exactly same as the regulation in the legislation. But this is crazy thing. And this crazy expectation that everyone in Risk and Safety memorizes the goddamn thing. What the hell is that about? Lawyers don’t memorize it


Nippin Anand  1:01:26

Rob. it is Exactly. 9:30. Now, one last thing. I just want to thank everyone for joining. It’s been wonderful. I know, we have not answered many questions, but we will try in the next few days. Put these questions together and send them across to you. It’s been a wonderful thing, listening to all of you. I think it’s I gained so much from this conversation, as I always do love listening to you. So if people want to find you, Rob, where should they look for? Right? you’re not on LinkedIn, I know,


Rob Long  1:01:55

I, I don’t buy write me an email, I will respond to every single email. If you want to know what to read. I will certainly say, Look, this is a good book. I never recommend my own books or anything like that. But I saw someone who says I’m trying to develop an ethics unit for a safety degree Good on you. That’s great. Write to me, I’ll help you. I’ve been delivering an ethics module within my work at a very sophisticated love for 20 years. There are lots and lots of people have been doing that. Don’t Don’t reinvent the wheel. There’s lots of stuff there. So yeah, write to me. I’m on the internet. It can be just, it can be Robertlong.2@mac.com it can be Robert@humandimension.com, Robert C. dabbler. Comdata. You I’m all over the internet, just put in Dr. Robert long on Apple comm.


Nippin Anand  1:02:45

He said, and if you if you can’t remember those emails, I will send send it out and as a as a podcast, in the link in the newsletter. So you will have Rob’s email address. What a wonderful conversation once again. Thank you very much, everyone for joining me. Yeah,


Rob Long  1:03:03

I just I just I will give you a plug. Just one plug. Yeah, sure. Please do. None of this is theoretical. I help organizations change their methodology in their methods. And a good example, for Europe. This is for people across Europe, UK, Canada, etc. I’ve written a book with a guy who is the global worker safety manager for Mondee group, the world’s largest fast free paper producer, right? Huge company in 30 countries, 30,000 employees, etc. He wrote this book called it works. Right? That’s because his organization have adopted a different methodology, away from paperwork away from the traditional engineering methodologies, using social psychology to change the way they tackle risk, and it works. And so he wrote about it, right. Mostly he wrote it. So if you, I mean, I’m not here to sell books. But if you want to know why it’s practical, and that actually works, Brian, just to order one of my website, Brian will mail the book to you. And you can learn about, we haven’t had time to talk about the methods of social psychology, but it’s a completely different method. It’s nothing like what’s currently practiced in risk and safety. Sorry, I went on.


Nippin Anand  1:04:27

Brilliant. Well, thanks very much, Rob. Thank you very much for joining, and have a lovely day, everyone. Right.  That was my last podcast for the year. I hope it has inspired you to think a little bit more deeper. I thought it was very thought provoking, very uncomfortable in some places. But that’s how learning is. I’ll meet you again next year with a new topic, which is very close to my heart also. And in this event in this LinkedIn event, I will be asking the question is just culture desirable for learning? Is there a relationship between a just culture and a learning culture? I will be joined by some industry experts, some subject matter experts, who knows something about just culture. So please join us on on LinkedIn, it will be announced soon I will let you know. Keep an eye on my my company page and my own page as well. Meanwhile, if you want to know more about how to create a learning culture, please get in touch with me. I’ll be more than happy to share my thoughts with you. I wish you a very happy and healthy, festive season. I think it’s been a very challenging year for all of us. So enjoy your hard earned break with your family and loved ones. And see I’ll see you again very soon. Goodbye