Are You Making A Difference As An OHS Professional?
George’s Response to: https://safetyrisk.net/everyday-simple-safety-leadership/
Working in OHS can be very frustrating and stressful and we tend to knock ourselves around when we are unable to drive significant improvements in safety. Sometimes the OHS people are the corporate safety conscience for organisations.
In these days of complex safety management plans, detailed safe working procedures, volume sucking OHS management plans and lead and lag safety indicators the little signs of success tend to be overlooked
I will give you a few examples from my past that illustrate what I mean-
1 After my leaving presentation in one job one senior manager came up to me to wish me well, offer himself as a referee and give me some feedback on my performance. He said I was like a mongrel terrier dog and chewed away on his ear until he did what I wanted him to do. He said a lot of the time he did what I wanted him to do because he realised I was right but admitted sometimes it was just to get rid of me. The manager’s comments were better than any formal performance appraisal.
2 In one job I used to facilitate a 2 day accident investigation course that questioned a lot of the traditional concepts, philosophies, beliefs and ideas on safety. There was often quite robust discussion on what I had to say. On one course one bloke got quite angry about what I had to say as it was challenging a lot of his long held, cherished beliefs.
About 6 months later I was at Mackay airport waiting for a plane when the bloke from the course came up to me. We had a few beers and got on talking about the accident investigation course. He said I had really upset him challenging traditional approaches to safety but now he had the chance to think about it had decided I was not as full of crap as he originally thought. You had to be there but it made me think my efforts were worthwhile.
3 In my role as Rehabilitation Coordinator I case managed a particularly messy stress case where a female secretary was being harassed / bullied by her boss. I gradually got the claimant back into productive full time employment. In a conversation with my secretary the claimant said that I really cared. My secretary said I was paid to care. The claimant said that she knew I was paid to care but I went over and above that.
4 At one job I led the implementation of a Critical Incident Recall project in the electrical department of an open cut coal mine after a serious electrical accident. I have written elsewhere on the technique which is very valuable. The work made many changes.
About 6 months later I was camping on a cattle property with a group of people from work including an electrician and an electrical foreman. Over more XXXX Gold than was safe and healthy, around the campfire, we got on talking about the work that had been done in the electrical department. Both electricians expressed the view that fatalities were prevented.
It is easy to get locked into big picture ways of measuring your success as a safety person and this can be soul destroying at times and make you think you are not achieving much. Good safety people achieve a lot and influence many through their everyday interactions. Often it is the small things that make a lot of difference.
Do not knock yourself about, there is a very good chance you are achieving a lot more than is readily apparent.
I think you should also read this one by Rob Long: https://safetyrisk.net/safety-as-a-helping-profession/