Safety Networking

Safety Networking

Some practical advice from the late George Robotham  Is your Safety Net working?


Safety NetworkingNetworking definition – “The exchange of information or services by individuals, groups or institutions. Specifically the culture of producing improved relationships in employment and business”.

There was a time when the S.I.A. OHS discussion forum was the main OHS networking forum. This had its strengths and weaknesses and proved unresponsive to member needs at times.

Networking opportunities

I see networking as an opportunity for me to learn from others. The opportunities for safety networking are huge at the moment and the following are the ones I participate in.

1 Linkedin -There are about 10 main Linkedin OHS forums, these are generally very good but of courses some silly things are said, people have barrows to push and they are used for commercial gain.

2 – Some very interesting papers crop up on this.

3 Mentoring – I have been mentoring small groups of OHS people for the last 18 months or so. I find I learn from that.

4 I subscribe to the hs-canada discussion forum. The Canadians take their safety seriously and do things a bit differently to Australia, there are opportunities to learn from this.

5 I am a member of an about 50 member private discussion forum. It tends to be hands on and has a fair bit of banter.

6 I write a fair bit about OHS in various forums, I love it when people disagree, an opportunity for me to learn. I would like to see other OHS people writing about their experiences.

7 Conferences-I am really turned off by major safety conferences these days. I am conscious however a lot of unstructured learning occurs over a beer or a coffee.

8 I take various opportunities to speak about OHS, great way to learn.

9 I look upon every consultancy job I do as an opportunity to learn and always define what went well and what opportunities for improvement were presented.


I am under no delusions that I am a polished writer and presenter. There are various opportunities for OHS networking that you are encouraged to follow up on. For me some of the most effective networking has been writing about OHS, all sorts of people pop out of the woodwork and engage in conversation.

With what I write I tell a simple storey, use easily understandable terminology, use simple English and throw in a bit of humour. You need to be conscious you often have a relatively unsophisticated audience.

Whilst academic papers have their place in OHS I believe there is a vast, largely untapped body of knowledge in the experiences of OHS personnel.

I would love to hear your story!


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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