Safety Caring

two sewerage workers in the manholeIt seems one of the biggest issues that come up when doing safety observations in the field is that management does not care or that the workers do not trust the management. We can learn a few things from doing safety observation if they are done for the right reasons.

Should we look at what we call them. Does it need to be called a safety observation or a safety walk around. Why can they not be called just a discussion. This discussion then can focus on building relationship of a friendship. Showing them care by asking simple question about hobbies or families, etc.

One of the biggest hurdles it seems that we come across when doing these observations, is trust. Part of the focus that should be looked at is how to gain that trust in the field. Showing genuine care will start the path to building this trust. Take the time out to speak to the tradesman in the field and ask some of these question that he has an interest in. Start the conversation out with a positive beginning. Try and keep it positive always. It seems humans react different when talking about positive vs negative things. Start the conversation on an upbeat by what is being done well.

Take the time to talk to the tradesmen of just general everyday things. If you ask them how they are doing do it for a genuine reason. Pay attention to what they are saying. Let them talk after all you asked. There may be something bothering them that could be job or of the job related. Listen to them. Listen, listen, listen.

When going out to have some discussion a lot a time to do this, the same as we a lot time for other meetings. We are all busy, but it is important to not be interrupted in the discussion. Unless it is an emergency then it can wait a few minutes. When we are in a meeting with the client, we a lot time, we turn our phones to silent. The meeting you have with the tradesman is just as important as any other meeting so give it the time.

If the company shows care for the employee there is a good chance the employee will show care to the company.

Here are just a couple of examples that may be able to help build the trust and work at changing the culture. After all it is the culture change that is wanted.

James Parkinson

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6 Replies to “Safety Caring”

  1. In the current climate of rampant unfettered totalitarian neoliberalism ethereal attributes such as trust, compassion and loyalty are categorised as unnecessary encumbrances because they cannot be measured quantitatively unlike the number of safety observations completed and unsafe acts identified to fulfill allocated performance indicators. It is further exacerbated the ideological zero harm fatwa.

    ” I don’t even trust myself” – Josef Stalin

    ” A faith is something you die for and a doctrine is something you kill for” – Tony Benn

    The following report from the Trilateral Commission published back in 1975 is well worth reading:

    The list of European Members on Pages 217-218 is quite intriguing.

  2. In my experience, the “observations” or “walkarounds” are always accompanied by the little black book in which “deviations” are noted. A “report” is sent out, with “responsible persons” and “due dates” when all of these have to be “corrected”. Should there not be instances where the manager/ leader just walks around and chat to the people, like James suggest, without any of the formal documents to “prove” that the actions were carried out according to some management plan? What happened to the days when a manager would just go to the plant, just to see how things are going? I agree with James in that I think a lot was lost when trust and conversation were replaced by reports and formal schedules, and I think this is for the worst.

    1. Wynand thank you for the reply. When they see that little black book being carried around it seems people go on the defence right away. I would much rather have the guys saying oh here comes that safety person he is going to have a little chat tell a joke or two and move on. If they see the safety person coming and get all tensed up more worried about the safety person then their mind is not focused on what they are doing and the potential for an incident is their. The potential is always there but this could raise it to a little higher level.

  3. Have a look about the industry and the language and symbols for caring and helping are absent. Caring and helping are benchmarks for professionalism.
    James, whilst it’s good to show caring and help it has to be skilled and competent and there is nothing in the risk and safety curriculum at present that does this. Consequently, most of the safety people I meet have no training in effective conversation, open questions, listening skills or being skills. This is because safety doesn’t see itself as a helping activity, and certainly has a long way to go before it can be considered professional. Indeed, most couldn’t even tell you what the criteria is for being professional. Softer bullying maybe!

    1. Thank you Rob for the comments. I agree the risk and safety curriculum teaches nothing about the caring aspect. It seems all they are interested in is more paper work flood the system with lead a lagging indicators and more KPI’s.

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