Do We Only Get One Shot At a First Impression?

Do We Only Get One Shot At a First Impression?

By Matt Thorne from Risk Diversity See Matt’s previous article: ‘Paper Systems’ and Safety Management Systems

imageFirst impressions are often the worst impressions but need not be so. However, once and bad impression is made, it is nearly impossible to retract it. Surely in the area of risk and safety this is something we must get right?

First Impressions into the construction industry are often via the “White Card” Safety on Construction sites Cert I . People who have experience in the construction industry and have completed a Cert IV in Training and Evaluation (TAE) can conduct these courses. Cert IV in TAE gives you permission to assess a particular course, it does not give you any insight into how to teach or into how people learn. Teachers spend four years in University studying education and learning. The TAE is not an equivalent nor does it attempt to be. (

In South Australia it is mandatory that the “White Card” be gained in person as opposed to online. My son got his first impression into Safety and Construction at one of these courses. He was accepted into a Construction Industry pathways VET course where he learnt about the building industry and which trade might suit him most. This is an excellent course on paper incorporating carpentry, plumbing, electrical, painting, plastering, brick laying the whole box and dice! ( ). The first lesson was Safety in Construction, hence the “White Card”

An external provider was provided to facilitate this course via the High School he was attending. What followed was an impression of a bygone era.

· Continual dropping of F-Bombs and C-Bombs.

· Threats to students who “annoyed him” would have their “lives made miserable.”

· That consumption of marijuana was not really an issue in the construction industry

· A suggestion that where particular students were sitting was where he had an intimate moment with his wife.

· Comments about excessive use of alcohol and not to show up drunk.

· When asked him to slow down the slide show, the response was: “if you do not keep up, you will fail”. ( )

The setting of a culture very rarely gets a chance on day one. This is one of the most important opportunities missed, 18 young lads (there was a girl who joined on the second week) aged 15-16, who are still highly impressionable had a chance to start a career path in the right manner, and instead have had wrong messages amplified in a social setting. They would not know any different, they are children who are not experienced in construction.

So how do we approach meaningful change in industry? How will we set culture and ethics that will allow dignity, respect and craftwork to be foremost in people mind? What should the first impression look like?

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below