Journey of a smoker

Journey of a smoker

A personal reflection by the late George Robotham 

I quit smoking about a month ago and feel I have done something significant in my life.

I am 58 and started smoking about 25. Back in the days when you could smoke in an office I used to go through a pack a day. The best thing that happened to me was bans on smoking in the workplace.

Smoking at work can be embarrassing. I set papers in my plastic rubbish bin on fire from ashing my cigarette into the rubbish bin. At one job a senior supervisor said I will never have credibility as a safety person if I smoked.

In the last 10 years I have had several half-hearted attempts at quitting smoking which have lasted for a few weeks

There is no doubt smoking is bad for you and in my case I suspect a fair bit of damage has been done.

Sometimes things happen that make a difference in your life.

About 2 months ago I got a severe lung infection. It was explained to me that this is more likely in smokers, is likely to be more severe with smokers and takes longer to get better with smokers. I went through a number of days where I had difficulty breathing

The penny dropped and I realised these breathing difficulties were what I had in front of me if I continued smoking

Giving up the smokes is not an easy thing to do but you are pretty silly if you do not do it. I would love a smoke now but realise the adverse health effects of taking it up again.

George Robotham

George Robotham

George was a Legend in the Safety World who passed away in Sept 2013 but left us with a great legacy
George Robotham
I have worked in OHS for most of my working life, many years in the mining industry including over 10 years in a corporate OHS role with BHP. Since leaving the mining industry I have worked in a variety of safety roles with a variety of employers, large & small, in a variety of industries. I was associated with my first workplace fatality at age 21, the girl involved was young, intelligent, vivacious and friendly. Such a waste! I was the first on the scene and tried to comfort her and tend to her injuries. She said to me “George, please do not let me die” We put her on the aerial ambulance to Rockhampton base hospital where she died the next day. I do not mind telling you that knocked me around for awhile. Since then I have helped my employers cope with the aftermath of 12 fatalities and 2 other life-altering events. The section "Why do Occupational Health & Safety" provides further detail but in summary, poor safety is simply very expensive and also has a massive humanitarian cost. My qualifications include a certificate I.V. in Workplace Training and Assessment, a Diploma in Frontline Management, a Diploma in Training & Assessment Systems, a Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education) , a Grad. Cert. in Management of Organisational Change and a Graduate Diploma in Occupational Hazard Management. I am currently studying towards a Masters in Business Leadership. Up until recently I had been a Chartered Fellow of the Safety Institute of Australia for 10 years and a member for about 30 years. My interest is in non-traditional methods of driving organisational change in OHS and I have what I believe is a healthy dis-respect for many common approaches to OHS Management and OHS Training. I hold what I believe is a well-founded perception that many of the things safety people and management do in safety are “displacement activities” (Displacement activities are things we do, things we put a lot of energy into, but which when we examine them closely there is no valid reason for doing them). My managerial and leadership roles in OHS have exposed me to a range of management techniques that are relevant to Business Improvement. In particular I am a strong supporter of continuous improvement and quality management approaches to business. I believe leadership is the often forgotten key to excellence in most aspects of life. I hold the Australian Defence Medal and am a J.P.(Qualified). I have many fond memories of my time playing Rugby Union when I was a young bloke.

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