The Good Bad and Ugly of Georges 38 Year OHS Career

The Good, Bad & Ugly of George’s 38 Year OHS Career

By the late George Robotham

You are likely to learn more from reading this excellent reflection than you will ever learn at Safety University. Enjoy:

I normally aim to produce succinct documentation and I have broken my own rule with this 40 page paper. To a certain extent it is a mini book rather than a paper. I cover my 38 year safety career in 40 pages so you could say it is succinct at a year to a page.

To a certain extent this is a critically reflective journal of my practical life in OHS.I must admit to thinking only the really dedicated will bother to read it and some may find it a bit self opinionated. In a few cases I frankly discuss the stuff ups I made.

Some may find some of the things I say a bit controversial.

I have done a bit of book learning over the years but I have to say where I have learnt the most is through practical experience. I have a strong aversion to many of the published academic papers I see.

It has taken me a lot of hard work and time to learn the things I have about OHS, my aim in writing this material is that others, but particularly those starting out in OHS, do not have to go through the protracted learning curve I did. I do not think I have got it all right and hope my efforts promote some discussion that we can all learn from.

The bad and ugly has 21 topics. Included in these are- Safety training, safety committees, L.T.I.F.R., accident ratio studies.

The good, routine has 14 topics. Included in this are-Supervisor safety training, job safety analysis, leadership, internal standards of OHS excellence.

The good, things they do not teach you at safety officer school has 24 topics. Included in these are- Critical incident recall, force field analysis, the perfect OHS professional, access to earthmoving equipment.

I am under no delusions I am an expert at OHS (Or, according to my wife an expert on anything) One of the ways I learn is to engage in discussion with other OHS people, so if I have not made points clearly enough or disagree please let me know.

Copies of the paper are available here

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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