New Free Safety EBook

“My Defining, Best and Most Challenging Events in 4 Decades in Safety”

This is the 5th in the series by the late George Robotham, who’s work you would be very familiar with if you are a reader of this blog (Read all of his articles HERE) and you will know what an enjoyable, no punch pulled and valuable read this book will be (see the Table of Contents and extract below).

Other free Ebooks in the series:

George - guidance book coverGeorge’s first FREE EBook: Guidance for the beginning OHS professional

George’s second FREE EBook: Broader Management Skills for the OHS Professional

George’s third FREE EBook: What It Means To Be An OHS Professional

George’s fourth FREE EBook: Lessons I Have Learnt about Management, Safety, Life and People

 Download George’s 5th Ebook HERE




Introduction by George

I am indebted to Dr. Robert Long for helping me develop the focus of this e book. After nearly 4 decades in OHS I have had a number of best events and a larger amount of challenging events. What follows is critical reflection on my personal experiences in safety; comment is sometimes given about what I learnt as the result of the event.

This is the fifth of 5 safety e books, the first is Guidance for the beginning OHS professional, the second Broader management skills for the OHS professional, the third What it means to be an OHS professional and the fourth is Lessons I have learnt about management, safety, people and life.. The papers: What makes a safety management system fly, 30 ways to stuff up a safety management system and What you Need to Know about Health & Safety Leadership”  have also proved popular.”

Table of Contents

A. Introduction

B. My defining events

C. Best Events

1. Internal Standards of OHS Excellence

2. OHC Change Project

3. Geoff McDonald

4. Analysis Reference Tree-Trunk Method of Personal Damage Occurrence Investigation

5. Critical Incident Recall

6. Taxonomy

7. Access to Earthmoving Equipment

8. Force-Field Analysis

9. Supervisor and Manager Safety Training

10. Job Safety Analysis

11. Hazard Identification / Risk Assessment / Hazard Control Training

12. Communications

13. A Learning Revolution

14. Hazard Control Model

15. Appropriate Self-Disclosure

16. Reflective Listening

17. Reflective Journal

18. Implementation of an Office Based Safety Management System

19. Project Management

20. The Best Safety Leader I Have Worked With

21. General Norman Schwarzkopf

22. Lock out Project

23. Confined Space Project

24. Psychology

25. Trust

26. Interpersonal and Communications Skills

27. The Real World

D. Challenging Events

1. Lorraine’s Story

2. The Reversing Story

3. The Snake Story

4. Tom’s Story

5. The Electrician’s Story

6. Anne’s Story

7. The Oxy-acetylene Equipment Story

8. The Moura Disaster Story

9. Kinetic Lifting

10. Induction Training

11. Commercial Safety Management System

12. Safety Training Generally

13. Safety Committees

14. Complexity

15. Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate

16. Behaviour Based Safety

17. Management Commitment

18. Safety Incentive Schemes

19. Zero Harm

20. Confined Space Work

21. Construction Safety Management Plans

22. Drink Driving

23. Risk Assessments

E. Something to finish up with

F. Conclusion



B. Three (3) Defining Events

Early in my safety career I experienced 3 defining events.

At one organisation the production manager and I reported to the location manager. I had a lot of support from the location manager whereas the production manager and the location manager frequently clashed. There was a safety issue that I could have handled better by involving more people in my decision making process. The technical basis of what I did was sound but I did not explain it to some of the stakeholders. The production manager blew the issue out of all proportion, tempers got flared and there was a lot of noise. When the fuss had died down I quickly and easily resolved the issue by working with one of the production manager’s direct reports.

I could not understand why the production manager got so excited over such a minor matter. One of the other managers told me what was really happening was the production manager was taking an opportunity to get back at the company manager by pointing out my mistakes.

At another location I used to run a 2 day accident investigation course with the central theme that personal damage occurrences (Accidents) were the result of People, Machine and Environment essential factors. I emphasised there was a lot more to safety than blaming the people.

A new manager started whose focus was finding out who was to blame for accidents and kicking their rear end. My training, while technically sound did not go over very well with him and he complained very loudly to senior management. There was a great deal of excitement. He displayed considerable inflexibility in his approach and was eventually told by senior management to pull his head in. My manager made it clear to me that he expected me to keep doing what I was doing.

At another location the manager the site OHS person reported to contacted me because he was concerned about the technical basis of how the site safety person was conducting a particular aspect of his job. The manager had researched the issue to a certain extent, had his concerns justified but had no luck in getting change. I researched the issue very thoroughly and forwarded the results to the manager. The manager then requested I visit the site and influence the site safety person.

I had a large pile of well researched information to prove my case but the site safety person would not shift his approach. I later discovered he spent a fair bit of time piling crap on me to anyone who would listen. He amused people at a meeting of all company safety people by saying my definition of a reasonable man was one who agreed with me.

As a relatively young OHS person I came to the realisation that no matter how technically sound your approaches, the people issues can bring you undone.

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.

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below