Updated: Dec 11, 2019
Crouch. Touch. Pause… Engage! A familiar sequence of commands that any rugby union fan would recognise instantly.
For those less familiar with the game of rugby, let’s just say these are the control measures, prescribed by the referee, for 8 men from either team to form a tightly bound scrum and come together in an effort to over-power one another to gain possession of the ball.
But these rules of engagement were not there when I was a school teen playing the game with my head jammed between the buttocks of the front row props, and in fact, its introduction was a phased approach that began with the introduction of just: pause, engage! These ‘advances’ in the arena of this professional sport have come about as a result of countless incidents of serious injury to many a schoolboy, club and professional player alike when teams come together in a show of brut force in the scrum.
This is but one example of countless in the whole sporting arena where sport is seemingly aligning with an awareness that some controls are necessary to save us from ourselves in the heat of the action on the field.
However, when we explore the hierarchy of controls that are the cornerstone of industry’s current Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) models, the first and foremost control measure is “Elimination”, or in other words: remove the hazard to prevent any form of risk.
In any other workplace, if a task is deemed to result in the slightest of injury to anyone undertaking the task – it becomes flagged and, rightly so, not allowed to proceed until all processes and possible scenarios have been identified and suitably acceptable methods of undertaking the task determined, to eliminate the risk of harm.
Yet, it remains an accepted risk on the rugby field that a player may break his neck, or worse..
If the professionals employed to play the sport of rugby were strictly adhering to the WHS hierarchy of controls one could beg the question: Would the game of rugby (and many other sports) even persist?
And if the CEO of the club was found to be legally liable for any ‘workplace’ incident within his control whereby serious injury could have been avoided, what might be the approach to his responsibility for those on the field.. This is most certainly juxtaposed to the case for the rest of our workplaces out there whereby an obvious and preventable WHS breach could easily see the senior management behind bars.
This example, if nothing more, might raise an alarm bell as to the breadth of inconsistency, we as a society allow to persist in so many avenues of life. And perhaps, how dare I even challenge the fabric of society that says to one employer: ‘my safety at work is Your responsibility’ but, on the other hand says to the club CEO “don’t you dare take away my after hours sporting entertainment!” and for now don’t worry about your responsibility for we, as a society, will not hold you to account unless, of course, if something should happen to me in my workplace.
There are so many cans of worms rattling on the shelf of workplace health and safety inconsistencies alone – we really ought to be begging more questions. The fact that we’re not, perhaps screams out loud as to just how lost we are – so far removed from our Truth, and so well trod is the path of going round and round, that we no longer recognise that we’re lost at all…
Ponder if you wish, Part 2 of this four part series to follow..