Complicity in Failure

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By Phil La Duke

“Who takes all the glory and none of the shame” Elvis Costello, Tramp The Dirt Down

On May 5, 2012, I wrote two blog posts that I intended to be companion pieces, the first  was meant to send the message to safety practitioners that if we claim credit for saving lives we MUST admit culpability for worker fatalities the second,  was a response from “the safety guy” Response to the Open Letter From the 4695 Fatalities  which I published eight days later.  In this piece, I wanted to answer the rancor of the first piece.  To lift some of the burden so easily and squarely placed on the people who work in safety. Together I hoped the two pieces to be a powerful dialog that would remind both sides of the argument that while everyone plays a part in safety, not everyone plays an equal role, and not everyone has the same amount of power in making changes that make the workplace safety.  The outpouring of vitriol and hatred I received from the first piece almost forced me to abandon the already written piece.  It felt like I was pandering to the pitchfork-touting, mouth-breathing, sub simian asshats who read my work solely to take offense.  Frankly, I wanted to write a poison pen response to these Shakespearian ladies who doth protest too much. I had never realized that I not only touched a nerve but pulled one out and gnawed on it like a rat; I wanted to tell them how their sanctimonious “we are doing sacred work here” bullshit sickened me. Despite this, I published the response and have never been able to shake the fact that the bastards thought they won’t that the internet trolls and bully-boys forced me to retreat.  There used to be a poorly drawn cartoon going around in the days before email, entitled the last great act of defiance. It was a crude drawing of a mouse arm raised with its middle finger raised in triumph seconds before a bird of prey swooped in to usher him to a certain and gruesome fate.  I’ve always identified with that poster and publishing the second have has always felt like surrender.  Well, it didn’t feel like that when I wrote it, but when the yowling banshees of guilty consciouses started their whinny chorus I just could STAND myself for letting them off the hook.  I included the first in my first book, (I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business!) but omitted the answer.  In fact, as I write this now I realize that at least to some extent, the title of the book itself was forged from bile I still feel for copping out.  As Emiliano Zapata said,It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.  I wanted to revisit that original letter and say that in today’s global climate of hate and intolerance where worker protections are being dismantled and people starved of facts or evidence are calling for rollbacks on environmental and safety regulations are screaming that we are too obsessed with safety, that safety regulations have gone too far, that everyone who supports and encourages these people—be they in the highest government offices around the world or at the stool at the end of the corner bar are complicit with the horrors they inflict.  There are no sidelines in safety, you are either for a safe workplace or you are indifferent to it, but make no mistake you are in the fight.

We can squabble over the best way to protect workers and I will fan the flames of those battles every week right here, in my blog, in my articles, and in my books. I will call out charlatans when I see them, but we all have to fight the public perception that safety is for candy-asses.  I’ve lost too many people close to me to concede defeat. I may be that mouse with the raptor about to disembowel me but I will remain staunchly defiant with my middle finger raised proudly, in my last great act of defiance.

Did you like this post? If so you will probably like my book which can be ordered here I Know My Shoes Are Untied. Mind Your Own Business or on Barnes & Nobel.com. Did you hate this post? Did it offend you deeply? Maybe you should organize a book burning (minimum of 150 books) but be sure you are only burning my book, I don’t want you to go to a used book store and buy a bunch of cheap books and stack mine on top.

The book is a compilation of blog posts, guest blogs, magazine article (from around the world) and new material. Much of it is hard to find unless you know where to look. A second and third book has already been green-lighted by the publisher (expect fewer reprints and more new material).

Remember the holidays are coming up and this book makes the perfect gift for the person for which you feel obligated to get something for but don’t really like.

In all seriousness, I have been blogging for free for over 11 years and I think I have earned a bit of revenue so buy the damned book.

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