This post is an extension of the thinking in yesterday’s post on theevangelism of mine safety (read it here).
It strikes me that, in South Africa especially, we have managed toexternalise the role of safety. If we had to deconstruct whatquality work, or mining, is we would find that operating safely is a core component of that work. In recognizing this, and the critical nature of safety, we have successfully extracted safety from quality work, and put it on a pedestal of its own. In doing so, an industry has been borne – and this is how most industries come to be.
But then I’m also aware of how, in South Africa especially, anyone who has anything to do with safety has their own perspective on the problem of safety. Share a cup of coffee with them on a break at a safety conference and you’ll find they know what “the biggest problem” is in safety, and they’ll eat up the rest of your break with their monologue on how the government doesn’t do enough of this, how leaders should be doing that, and it goes on.
Now, if the emergence of a religious metaphor in the industry is valid, then I wonder if we can draw parallels between how an established religion works and the dynamics of the safety industry …
It can be said that within any dominant religion, there’s a fragmentation of belief perspectives and ideologies. So, within Christianity, there are as many approaches to and different beliefs on the core elements of the faith as there are people who identify themselves as Christians. The same is true of the safety industry: the majority of conferences, seminars and workshops on safety are inundated with disparate discourse and debate on what the problem with safety is.
And so, while miners are dying underground we’re sitting in conference venues arguing about why they are dying.
I believe that of all the possible pillars of religion, there are two that are core: salvation and transformation i.e. a religious is almost always concerned primarily with the salvation of the person from the human condition, and the transformation of that person into a representation of the values underpinning the religious belief.
Is the Religion of Safety not the same or similar? Or should it not be?
At the heart, safety is about saving lives.
But then, in order to save people, the people in themselves need to be transformed and turn away from their wicked ways as people who care not about their own safety, or the safety of others.
It is this: those who are working their way up the totem pole of religious authority in Safety need to come to terms with their evangelical ways and be aware of how easy it is for a religion to become a navel-gazing movement that talks about salvation and redemption, but is so far removed from the actual human condition to meaningfully change lives.