Winning The Hearts And Minds Of Workers In Relation To Safety

Winning The Hearts And Minds Of Workers In Relation To Safety – Advice To Managers, Supervisors And Safety People

Classic post by the late George Robotham 

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hearts and mindsA manager in Nigeria, of all places, approached me to give some advice on getting the workers on side in safety. Rightly or wrongly the following is what I gave him.

Australian troops in Vietnam were quite successful in winning the hearts and minds of the local villagers. Here is some brief advice on winning the hearts and minds of workers in relationship to safety.

1 Set the safety example

2 Be honest and upfront, do not bullshit, you will usually be found out eventually and your credibility will suffer

3 Have a highly visible commitment to safety. Participate in safety meetings, accident investigations, audits, inspections etc. Outline your expectations of people attending safety training

4 Build trust with employees

5 Develop a mission, goals, objectives and a vision for the safety effort

6 Carry out a safety training needs analysis and train accordingly. Use interactive training not lectures

7 Hold people accountable for safety performance

8 Celebrate success

9 Do what you say you will do

10 Have high safety expectations

11 Give and encourage receiving regular feedback

12 Follow up on complaints and always report back

13 Praise good work

14 Respect others / Support others

15 Minimise the bureaucracy and have succinct paperwork

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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