‘She may not come out of there alive’ followed by a giggle….
- Have you ever been on a site where the workers are angry and the ‘leaders’ are scared?
Has there been a time where a ‘safety stand down’ was deemed necessary due to ‘too many incidents?
Have you ever been put in the position where you had to go into the fray and calm the beasts?
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?
- 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.
- 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 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.
Stay safe and keep smilin’