‘She may not come out of there alive’

‘She may not come out of there alive’ followed by a giggle….

clip_image002Short, sharp and sweet. That was the promise for this chat.

The Questions

  1. Have you ever been on a site where the workers are angry and the ‘leaders’ are scared?
  2. Has there been a time where a ‘safety stand down’ was deemed necessary due to ‘too many incidents?

  3. Have you ever been put in the position where you had to go into the fray and calm the beasts?

The Challenge

To deliver a ‘procedural review’ to a room full of angry riggers and crane operators. They had had several incidents in the previous 2 weeks.

Being a safety advisor who had only been on site for a few weeks, so the:


Strategy was still in its infancy.

Agree or not with safety stand downs, I volunteered to face the room as the respect for the other advisors was ‘waning’ to say the very least.

Contemplating how to best go about this, it struck me that the comment made by a so called safety ‘leader’ as I entered the room….alone.

‘She may not come out of there alive, they will rip that little girl to pieces’ followed by a giggle:

Was a statement which spoke very loud and clear to me, proof that this toxic culture had been allowed to thrive.

No support was offered by said ‘leader’ to that little girl.

No safety in numbers, no stand together as a united front.

Just me, on my own with 30 guys who were boring holes into my back as I turned to gather my thoughts before beginning what many thought would be a session which would see me running from the room in tears.

That is not me.

Was there fear? You bet your bottom dollar. A Sh#t load.

Yet we do not get far in this game if we run as soon as the fear hits. Feel the fear and do it anyway, isn’t that what they say?

The Outcome

  • Hand-shakes all round.
  • Smiles and a new found respect for each other.
  • New ‘protectors’ on a very scary site.
  • A procedure with changes, reviews, input from the people who count, the workers doing the job.

The Answers

  1. Yes. The leaders were scared because the workers were angry. The workers were angry because the leaders were scared.
  • Yes. Agree or not, a ‘stand down’ can be an opportunity to turn attitudes around.

  • Yes. The ‘beasts’ are not beasts at all. They are people just like you and me. They will respond well if treated with respect and given a chance to be heard and to be part of the solution.

  • The Teaser

    The story is a good one, what happened to ‘turn the room.’

    The change in the little girl from then on was massive and stayed with her, is still with her.

    The explanation will be the topic of the next post.

    What would you have done?

    How can we take advantage of what many see as a ‘pain in the ass, best get it over with scenario’ and turn it into a learning experience for all involved.

    Please share any stories you may have and we shall see how our thoughts compare when next we meet.

    I kept my promise.

    clip_image004Short, Sharp and Sweet.

    Stay safe and keep smilin’




    ‘Fly in Fly out Life’ Mentor: supporting on-site teams + Women in ‘boots’ Mentor. at Hard Hat Mentor

    Latest posts by Drewie (see all)

    Drewie has worked her way up through the ranks on remote FIFO sites all over Australia and one project in Canada to date. With a career spanning 30 years, she estimates, a culminated 5 years 'off' trying the 'other life’ here and there in the hospitality and fitness industries. Her first day on a remote site was her milestone 18th birthday and she also celebrated her 21st living in a donga and blowing the candles out on the cake at the wetty. Apparently if her upcoming 50th ends up being the same scenario, that would be ok too. “Though my family may have other ideas about that”. She is currently and shall continue working with Clive Lloyd's team at GYST Consulting where Values Based Safety - using 'The Care Factor' approach to Culture development and Authentic Leadership are front and centre. The big news is that 'Hard Hat Mentor', Drewies’ own consultancy, is now in an exciting development phase where all energy and focus shall be channelled into two causes very close to her heart. The first will be supporting on-site leadership/teams/work crews and individuals to thrive in the, at times, very challenging FIFO work and lifestyle. The second is to be a mentor to the gutsy 'Women in Boots' who may need a hand now and then in a male dominated arena with its own unique set of bumps in the road to navigate. Drewie says, “One cannot spend so very long working remotely on gruelling rosters without picking up some wisdom along the way, albeit at times seemingly from osmosis alone! There are many hard won lessons we learn in such a unique environment, mine are demanding to be shared now, very loudly, they refuse to be ignored, so my new journey begins.' Drewie has also taken her first steps to study ‘The Social Psychology of Risk’ formally and has a new skip in her step due to all the knowledge to be gained and shared in the future.

    Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below