Losses Don't Save Lives

30th October 2014

We know that “framing” – how issues are presented - has an indelible impact on how they are perceived and often on subsequent behaviour. If they are framed in a misleading manner misleading conclusions may be drawn and resulting behaviour perverse.This morning Radio NZ reports “Port profits up but at a cost” and sets out the numbers associated with the shocking accident record at NZ ports in the last year. The high rate is unacceptably high, absolute tragedy for those affected and has unnecessarily brutal results.It is not however a necessary result of profit or  a “high cost” of profit. The implication that it would somehow be lower and all would be well without such high profits is mischievous sensationalism which is likely to stand in the way of fixing problems.Running at a profit is never an excuse for a poor safety record or an inevitable cost. Numerous companies including ports make profits and have a better safety record than the NZ effort last year.Companies running at a loss or unacceptable profit do not have better safety records than profitable ones. Quite the reverse. Lives cannot be saved by simply running at a loss.Running at a profit offers the resources to address safety issues and for pressure to be placed on managements and boards to address poor safety records. Losses give them the ideal excuse to do nothing.Success including earning a healthy profit demands safe sustainably healthy conditions. Unsafe practices and a poor record threatens profit.A less sensational report would have highlighted the problem areas, asked what is being done and how quickly and might well have scolded companies for moving too slowly or too narrowly.Only the sloppiest of journalism coupled with slow brain editing grabs pointless unsupportable sensation resulting in predictably illogical conclusions which inhibit improvements rather than help. 

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