Teambuilding in OHS

Teambuilding in OHS

Guest Post by George Robotham from

Team Pulling the WorldIntroduction

My motto is-When Initiating Change, Remember, People Support What They Create. Working in teams is an essential part of most management functions. In the OHS area OHS people may work as part of a broader H.R. team, lead at team of other OHS personnel, lead safety project teams and coach / mentor a broad range of personnel. Skills in teambuilding are essential for OHS people.


Teams are small groups of people with complementary skills who work together as a unit to achieve a common purpose for which they hold themselves collectively accountable.

Effective teams

  • Create clear objectives & goals
  • There is role clarity
  • Willing to try new ideas
  • Build mutual trust
  • Ensure a common purpose
  • Establish clear rules for behaviour by the team

Creating high performing teams

  • Get the vision, scope and objectives right
  • Create high expectations
  • Get the biggest bang for your buck
  • Call a spade a spade
  • Get the right people
  • Require people to do their homework
  • Never move slowly on critical personal issues
  • Constantly upgrade skills
  • Build trust through appropriate self-disclosure
  • Consider “What’s in it for me” from the perspective of the other person
  • Create short-term wins
  • Celebrate success
  • Clearly defined roles
  • Have fun
  • Be a bit crazy when appropriate (calculated risk-taking is good!)
  • Do what gives you the biggest bang for your buck

Safety project teams

I have found safety project teams using change management and project management methodologies are a great way to drive significant safety change. Having a well developed project plan and someone with significant management horsepower on the team will always help. Giving the team a budget and responsibility to introduce change is often appropriate.

Teambuilding workshop

With one organisation I facilitated a teambuilding workshop with a particular focus on newly appointed OHS personnel. The workshop aimed to define and clarify the roles of the various parties in the OHS mix. Participants were the Department Manager, the H.R. Manager the OHS people reported to and existing and new members of the OHS team.

Objective of the workshop

Build a highly effective safety team that will lead the organisation to safety excellence.


1 Existing team members gave a10-15 minute presentation on-

What they do

How they do it

What the challenges are

What they would like to do if they had the resources

What assistance they want from the team leader to help them perform at a high level

2 New team members discussed the challenges they saw integrating into the safety team

3 There was some discussion from senior personnel of their expectations of safety team members

4 Discussion on “Where to from here?”-What additional assistance is needed to participants in their journey to build a highly effective team.


All participants reported that the workshop assisted to clarify their role in the team. We all got to know and understand each other better.


Teambuilding is an important part of the OHS persons role. You are advised to read up on the topic.

George can be contacted on, he welcomes debate on the above (it would be indeed a boring world if everybody agreed with George)

George Robotham, Cert. IV T.A.E.,. Dip. Training & Assessment Systems, Diploma in Frontline Management, Bachelor of Education (Adult & Workplace Education), (Queensland University of Technology), Graduate Certificate in Management of Organisational Change, (Charles Sturt University), Graduate Diploma of Occupational Hazard Management), (Ballarat University), Accredited Workplace Health & Safety Officer (Queensland),Justice of the Peace (Queensland), Australian Defence Medal, Brisbane, Australia,,,07-38021516, 0421860574, My passion is the reduction of permanently life altering (Class 1 ) personal damage

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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