Reflecting on a Lifetime in Camps and Remote Site Locations

Reflecting on a Lifetime in Camps and Remote Site Locations

Guest post by Ken Roberts – HSE Specialist – LinkedIn Profile: Ken R. Roberts

fifo planeAm I going to give it up anytime soon?

With 36 years of mining and construction camps under my belt, 15 of those as a construction manager and the last 14 years managing HSE, risk and sustainability across Australia and South East Asia, you could say I developed projects until I discovered a passion for developing people. With a growing awareness of workplace mental health issues and the impact FIFO and remote locations have on personnel, my focus has shifted to understanding how these issues affect workers, their families and social interactions.

When I’m asked to address these issues I share a common thread. Raised in mining towns and remote site locations and then beginning my own career living and working in remote mining camps since 16, I’ve learned to approach each case individually and not tarred with the same brush.

Look at recent events with Brexit and the US Elections for example. What I’ve noticed with the advent of social media and society’s demand for a voice is, that the workforce’s mandate is now more clearly evident too. Yet our workplaces, and particularly the mining and construction industries are lagging behind this unmistakeable fact.

Since 2002 I’ve been a volunteer leading member with a global personal development and empowerment network for men. Called the Mankind Project, men are supported to discover what’s important to them and blend these values into the framework of their family, lifestyle and work choices. With this experience I’m inspired to combine innovative workplace training techniques and traditional business practices with these same principles. These new techniques, that is, to honour an individual’s uniqueness appears to be more sustainable in today’s world. Wouldn’t you agree? Watch the latest ABC TV series called Man Up to understand the broader picture.

So what does this mean?

Well what we see now is that an individual’s own unique ‘values’ system, once discovered and met, inspires them to take responsibility for their lifestyle and subsequent ownership of their workplace.

“Therefore the secret in maintaining production and safety goals for the company is to assist workers to align their own values with the values of the organisation.”

This understanding has revolutionised the way I approach HSE. It’s a different angle but one I’m having much success with. And just to put icing on the cake, to meet global HSE standards in Laos (S.E. Asia) recently, I found it easier to introduce sustainable HSE systems when the workforce didn’t have to “un-learn” embedded western workforce culture and behaviours. I discovered that respecting individual values, practical engagement and risk coaching at the work-face was far more effective than the traditional rules and procedures induction training from a class-room.

An interesting discovery I’m pursuing further. So stay tuned!

Editor’s Note: Links are not for personal promotion but for reader’s information

Ken Roberts

Ken Roberts

HSE Systems - Safety Leadership - Risk Specialist at 1on1 Safety Corporation
Ken Roberts

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Ken Roberts
To be an industry leader let’s tap into the workforce and solve safety issues as a team. Management and workers hand in hand. Let's drive cultural change from the perspective of self-accountability and personal responsibility, instead of punitive measures. How about instilling an inspiring safety vision that captures a workforce’s spirit and energy? Or develop a powerful mission that gets workers to ‘buy-in'. To avoid incidents let's facilitate staff and contractors to volunteer their own strategies in creating continuing HSE improvement. Let's utilise a company's most powerful asset in creating a world class safety culture. That is, asking and involving the workforce during safety policy decision making. Being a safety principal is really about facilitating a constantly self-evolving continuous improvement system. The true definition of a quality assurance program. In creating a continuous self-improving workforce, we need to be able to facilitate the process of self-accountability - as opposed to coercing staff into a program they had no input in creating. A progressive organisation will instil preparation and planning, and solutions-based thinking. And tap into the workforce’s creative energy. The HSE principal must imbue exceptional facilitation skills and create participation platforms that includes everyone in the organisation, from the shop floor to the boardroom. Think of what that process might produce!!? Now for the boring stuff. Obviously 36 years in the mining and construction industry with over 20 years leading Health and Safety as a Construction Manager and HSE Principal has the credentials. Apart from being a Risk Specialist, ICAM Facilitator, Professional Writer, Governance and Verification Auditor, and with years of experience in some of the biggest companies in the world, I've spent the last 15 years as a community leader with an International non-for-profit personal development and empowerment organisation (ManKind Project).

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