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Many books have been written in the genre of safety but few embrace a political perspective. Perhaps this is because the industry of safety evolved out of engineering and science with a myopic focus on technology, regulation and legislation. Indeed, many of the early associations in safety included the title of ‘engineering’ in their identity. This has since been substituted for the title of ‘professional’.
Whilst many reports, coronial investigations and reviews adopt a political perspective, very few publications like this book venture into the political minefield of: vested interests, power and corruption, political discourse and justice. To do so, is an act of risk in itself. Well done Bernard for taking this step.
‘Speaking truth to power’ often results in isolation and alienation by those being criticised. In an industry addicted to compliance as its raison d’etre, such a book is not likely to be described as ‘popular’. Those who embrace Critical and Cultural Theory don’t usually find populism of much merit anyway and there may be some turns of phrase in this text that might alienate vested interests even further.
However, this is a book the safety industry needs. It names many political conflicts of interest in a sector that is at best politically naïve and at worst, delusional about apolitical identity. Indeed, this book demonstrates that the safety industry too often ‘gets in bed’ with vested interests and then wonders why it is ineffective. The fact that no curriculum in Work Health and Safety in Australia includes curricula on politics, justice, ethics or critical theory is testament to political nearsightedness as a characteristic of its culture.
This is a book that names many ‘sacred cows’ and hangs them out to dry. It does so through critique of significant tragedies, events and disasters and in detailed articulation it names political dynamics in operation ‘behind the scenes’. In so doing, the book pulls apart many myths that are upheld in the safety industry that have been constructed as ‘sacred’. This makes the book iconoclastic and deconstructionist in nature.
However, this is not just a book that just deconstructs the political fabric of the safety industry but also (in the second half) builds up a new model for undertaking leadership in safety. I will leave it up to you to read about those positives associated with a transdisciplinary approach to risk.
This book sets forth many underlying political problems that constrain a sector that seeks to do good. Unfortunately, whilst the industry seeks to keep people safe it remains tangled up in its own naivety and mechanistic ideology. The safety industry has a long way to go before it engenders wisdom, discernment and humanising in risk.
This is not a perfect book and it uses many expressions that I would not invoke. In some ways it will take as much courage for a safety person to read this book as it has taken the author to write it. I trust you enjoy reading this book and that it opens up new horizons for you as you seek to understand political risk in all of its machinations.
Bernard is taking no profits from the sale of this book. All proceeds from the sale of this book will go directly to the outstanding work of the Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross. What a wonderful way to demonstrate the politics of justice, ethics and hope by supporting this work.
If you wish to give feedback and encouragement to Bernard, he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org