Paul's presentation of his experiences was very moving, and inspirational. I believe him being here to talk through and being able to ask questions first hand was great.
I had an enquiry at the end of the week about the possibility of running a Lego Serious Play Facilitation session at a conference. During the phone call the gentleman asked the very question that all people involved with health and safety are looking for. - 'What does health and safety look like?' The only issue was he couldn't see what it would look like using Lego. I could not answer that question as it was a phone call and the limit of communication via a phone line is the lack of visual interaction.
Well, I thought I need to answer that question? The answer is in the bricks (while training we were always told trust the bricks). So while I sit in my hotel room near Chesterfield on a Sunday night, I decided to build my answer (using the bricks available in a window exploration bag. Not all bricks used).
You can see the answer in the attached picture below (built in 3 minutes, any longer and you start to question the question and build what you think other want). So let me explain my answer.
Health and safety is about getting everybody to see the hazards and identifying where they are. It's about providing a barrier to keep them safe. All the time being transparent what they can and can't do, and being clear why this is the case. Finally, it's about getting everybody to have ideas of their own, and own it as well to how health and safety can be improved in the workplace.
What would you build? And Why? It's not just about your model that you built, it is what others build too. And getting that shared model that everybody can commit to, in improving that culture where everyone goes home and returns to work everyday.
So if you want to explore what your lads and lassies would build for a healthier and safer culture then get in touch. By the way why not build and share your models and lets build a better culture together.
It is sometimes weird where them moments of creative thinking comes from! I have just had one today from the most unlikely sources the film Revolver. Actually, tell a lie it started yesterday evening, I was watching TV and the adverts were on and a tune accompanying one of these adverts was a haunting tune and I knew that I had heard it from the film Revolver, but couldn't remember the name of it.
Well, searching this morning for the name of the tune (Gnossienne "No.1" (from Erik Satie performed by Alessandra Celletti). While reading about how the film was panned by the so called critics. I also read that Guy Richie was inspired by Kabbalah to make the film, so like you do I clicked the link and came across this story on Wikipedia.
'Four men entered pardes — Ben Azzai, Ben Zoma, Acher (Elisha ben Abuyah), and Rabbi Akiva. Ben Azzai looked and died; Ben Zoma looked and went mad; Acher destroyed the plants; Akiva entered in peace and departed in peace'.
This got me thinking about the characters at in an organisation and how they react to things happening especially when the business wants to improve the culture.
These are the four characters across all levels of the organisation. Even though they are spread across the business, you will find that some are more visible than others in the many layers and departments.
But what makes them tick to act the way they do? Well, looking a bit deeper into Kabbalah and I came across the type of approaches (Wikipedia)
So, if we break it down to the following questions, then answers will appear in helping enhance the culture that has evolved over time.
Sometimes its not about new thinking that drives improvements, but reading old texts and revamping them for the modern world to make them fit in the environments that we encounter everybody.
This week I attend a facilitation course to run Lego Serious Play, you may think how can this make a difference to my organisation?
Well, it changes the way people get involved with the questions being asked, especially with cultural change. The methodology of the serious play thinking is that everybody is involved in the session as they lean in, building their ideals in real time and giving that out of the box answer.
As everybody is involved it can stop that poor survey response because the session becomes the survey and everybody has to be involved and respond. As the other members of the session questions the model, not the person. So, a strategy evolves in front of your eyes and in your hands.
Health and safety can benefit and be improved as well as instead of people sitting around, arms crossed and looking at either the floor or ceiling, they get involved as they are invited to take part and express their views.
There is no PowerPoint, no flipcharts and no sitting around listening to someone teach a subject,. It is lean in, involving everyone and fun with a goal in mind.
Plato said 'You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation'. Nearly 2500 years later we are starting to see how right he was. A session can last a few hours to a couple of days depending how deep you want to go.
Play brings the best out of us and it gives a new light to areas that have become stale and run out of ideas. It allows people to join in where before there were not involved or felt part off the process. It makes ideas easier to see as they are there on the table staring us in the face.
As most people are either visual or kinaesthetic when they learn a large majority of employees are involved straightaway, the auditory learners are still involved as they are included at the storytelling and Q&A. It is a very much win - win situation when it comes to moving things forward in the right direction.
Other uses for the Lego Serious Play to help the organisation can be coaching and mentoring employees (any level) or mindfulness sessions to unlocking employees stress,
If you are interested in developing employees and/or the organisation then please get in touch to discuss your requirements in going to new frontiers.
I love chess, its a game that gets you thinking not just about your move, but that of your opponents as you try and second guess what their next move is and maybe the next couple after that.
One of the biggest moves in chess is the queen sacrifice, where you give up the most powerful piece on the board. It takes a great player to do such a move, because most will hang on to the queen for as long as possible, hoping to win or draw a game with it.
Sometimes for the good we have to sacrifice something at work, even though at the time it looks a weird move and everybody is thinking have you finally, lost their mind.
This is where a great employee differs from the rest. To change a culture (especially, for a healthier and safer one) everybody has got to learn to sacrifice a little something to help change things for the better. If they don't things will never change and more than likely in the end they will lose everything, as they try and hold on to everything the got.
It's about letting people see the bigger picture and see that the little sacrifice being made will benefit not only the business, but themselves as well. It's that win-win situation for all concerned.
None of us like to wear PPE (mainly because its uncomfortable and at times makes the job a little awkward) but that little sacrifice will help us be safer for now and healthier in the future.
Paul Mahoney wrote this blog as a response to when he attended the IOSH North West Tri Branch conference in Widnes at the beginning of June.
Before you start reading this blog, NO, it is not an early Christmas cracker joke. It relates to slides in my presentations inspiring other to work in a healthier and safer manner.
So, starting with the fish, what does that relate to concerning H&S? It relates to peoples working environments. There is a West African proverb that states, ‘Fish are the last to recognise water’ It is true the fish is the last to recognise that it is swimming in water. It is not until you hook the fish out onto the riverbank that it realises that it lived in water.
Now take people at work, they are the last to recognise the working environment they work in every day. This because over time things that once were considered dangerous or unhealthy merge into the background and disappear from sight.
This loss of environmental awareness now leads on to the loss of fear. In his book VALUE-BASED SAFETY PROCESS – Improving Your Safety Culture With Behaviour-Based Safety. Terry McSween states ‘Complacency refers to the loss of the fear of injury that typically motivates employees to work safely.’
Now say that exact quote to a person who has worked on the shop floor for 25 years without injury or a near miss. What would be the normal response? It would be probably be a roll of the eyes and the internal voice saying not this again.
What about if I now rephrase that quote into this question ‘When did you lose the butterflies at work?’ So, what would the response be now? First, you would get a look that says sorry, but are you MAD*? Moreover, yes, they are right, but it is said to *Make A Difference to a healthier, safer culture. Especially, if it gets the person thinking differently about the job they do.
We all more or less remember our first day at work, especially if it involved being trained around machinery. You had a tight ball in your chest, you was not sure where to stand to operate the machinery or the button/s to press to operate it. Now, fast forward to now, the question has to be when did lose that tight ball in your chest? I am going to guess you cannot remember.
When we were kids and we had that tight ball in our chests, our parents would say more often or not that we had butterflies. Over time we grow up and we just call it ‘being nervous’. That nervous feeling actually keeps us alive; it keeps us on our toes, as we are stay aware of our surroundings. As time ticks by that nervous, feeling disappears, just like letting butterflies out of a jar.
The final animal is starfish. Anybody who has listened to my presentation would of heard me use a story concerning starfish washed up onto a beach. If you haven’t heard the story. I use an adapted story like the one below.
A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance, as he drew nearer he noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water.
Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time he was throwing them back into the water.
The man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied,” I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else they will die through lack of oxygen. “But”, said the man, “You can’t possibly save them all, there are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along
You can’t possibly make a difference.” The boy smiled, bent down and picked up another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied
“Made a difference to that one”
Health and Safety should not be hard to put into place; it helps actually makes good organisations great because it is where people want to work.
Sometimes as the people who make that difference to people’s lives at work, as we put in place the health and safety regulations, we need to take a step back and think out the box, to get that little bit more buy in from the people we are affecting in their work environments. We have to be a little crazy sometimes.
Talking of crazy, how many people thought that Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons were insane showing a video to an audience and asking them to count the passes?
Now, how many Health and Safety professionals show the video to see if their delegates spot the…
If it means looking at Health and Safety through the eyes of a child to get that, buy in or take us back to our childhoods, then so let it be. Every little step helps improve a safer working culture. It is normally the little things in life, which has the biggest impacts on that life.
If you hadn't notice the last couple of weeks there has been lots of people trying to put 4 years of hard work to good use as they hope that at the end a gold medal is placed over their neck.
4 years seems a very long time to most people, as they hope most of the time just to get through one year at a time. It is nearly 4 years since I took that little step in front of my first audience to tell them about that day and the affects and effects since.
It wasn't the most brilliant of talks as I stumbled over my words, as they disappeared from my mind. I was also challenged by one of the delegates as he said he wouldn't or none of his colleagues would do that stupid thing that I had done. He was right it was a stupid thing to do, diving in trying to get a machine up and running again. What he couldn't see was that he was doing the same, as he described why he had scares down his neck because he scrapped the slag off the molten metal.
I'm getting off track (no pun intended) when I look back now it must be like all them sports men and women out in Rio, they must of faced times when they could just of turned their backs and walk away from it all, but something drives them to keep going and beat the challenge ahead.
That's how I look at the challenge of inspiring others to work safer and go home everyday to their love ones. There is at times going to be that hurdle just a little bit to high and you just can't see a way over. You start to get angry as the more you try the more you fail. The challenge looks like its got the better of you, but then one day you see a different way of doing things and the hurdle appears tiny and you power ahead to the next challenge.
What I have described is the challenging person in the room, the one who wants to point a finger at me and tell me I'm stupid for doing what I did. They are right I was and if only I could turn back time, I can't as much as I wish to be in my little mill doing what I was good at.
Actually, they need to point the finger at themselves as they need to tell themselves they are the stupid one because so, far they have been the lucky one not to end up in hospital.
My way of dealing with addressing the challenges of getting that healthier safer attitude is to go off at a tangent. Why as it gets people thinking as I know that one slide, one story could get the result I'm hoping for a family not receiving that phone call or knock at the door.
As we come to the end of the year, we normally reflect on the year gone past and start to look forward to the new year ahead.
Do we really ask the questions that matter, to help us grow from what has happened over the past 52 weeks and what do we want for the next 52 coming up.
This leads us to the working environment do we really ask the important questions to enhance a culture, it is not about changing cultures, but enhancement of the one we already have. Building on the good things that already exist. You cannot change it as the culture has been allowed to grow and mature over time.
We are getting there with improving cultures and with that health and safety, along with the environmental impact to the outside world.
There has to this point been 3 ages:
The first age was about replacements, if a tool broke we replaced it, just like the men, women and child maimed or killed in the workplace.
The second age was about engineering things out, especially the installing of guards to stop contact with moving parts. (reactive to issues)
The third age and we are still there is about telling and informing employees what they can or cannot do. (passive active to issues)
We need to move into the forth age of interaction asking the employee what is needed and being proactive about things getting out there and being amongst the action. Finding out the everyday issues and challenges faced to get the job done to the highest standards.
This is where we can learn a lot from sport, especially from team games, take any football team from the Premier League or Football League, they train every day to get the best out of themselves. Managers and coaches are amongst the players talking, coaching and being a mentor to them.
How many organisations are like what I just described? Not, many because there has been this invisible drawbridge pulled up to stop the interaction, as managers do the paperwork, supervisors crack the whip and the workers get things done and out the door.
So, I ask you where is your organisation?
With C and D the safety department is very much the envoy going around all the time trying to keep channels of communication open, to stop wars erupting all over the place.
So, how do you move from C and D take others with you to a department, talk about the issues firstly that they face and once the common bonds are established, move to what works well and the standards they expect in each department. It is not an overnight thing it takes months, if not years, but you got to keep plugging away.
Successful teams don't become champions straightaway, it takes years of hard work to become number one. So, to get the organisation to one household will take time, and the way to achieve this is one step at a time and be proactive and ask the why and how questions and get to learn the jobs that people do, and invite them to follow you around learning what to do.
The two questions that need to be asked to kick the whole process off is:
There is a third question that needs to be asked and it involves everybody in the organisation. How are we (the department/organisation) going to achieve better and higher?
I wish everybody a Merry Christmas and Successful 2016
Well November is nearly over and now we look forward to that mad week at the end of December. It is a mad week for my family as there is that great day (on the 25th) where all the family meet up chew over the year (like most families up and down the country) and then in between that and the new year celebrations, where futures are visualised there is Cheryl's and my birthdays to celebrate as well.
That is the near future, what about this month, well where do I start? It has been and will be a month of mixed emotions.
Firstly, it's been a month of travel around the world first stop was to the Middle East, Adu Dhabi in fact and having the pleasure of speaking to the world, okay, not all 7 billion, but 450 people from different parts of it, for the OPITO safety conference.
This week it's been to the land of the free, The USA (Buffalo) to complete the second of Unifrax's safety leadership courses, and to give that inspiring speech to get the senior management (leadership) to reflect and take forward what happens when all levels act independently of each other, the first course was at Manchester the day after OPITO.
It has not all been about jet setting! Work is just important here as well. In between flying 12000 miles. I have put in place some new poster designs at Pointon's during the company’s cultural enhancement program being supported by Dan Terry and myself.
This week I finish the month off locally of sorts first to Reading and then Brentwood for Countryside Properties with Dan again delivering his concept course of Leading and Behaving Safely.
That all the exciting things out the way, because 3 years ago when I started this journey I never saw travel around the world and making that difference to people. I just thought it would be an odd trip up and down the M1 now and again.
The sobering thing now is that this week will be the 15th anniversary of why I do what I do! Inspiring other to go home safely and in good health to their families. That incident did not only change my life, but that of family, friends and work mates.
At approximately 8.15 on the 25th November 2000, the house of cards built by all that worked at the RCF Plant collapsed.
Complacency had struck and I was at the centre of it! If it were not for the quick thinking of my work mates (Jon, John, Steve and especially Darren), I would not be writing this blog today.
So, what have I learnt over the years? Well, it is purely this there are some people who have changed for the good and think about what they are doing more, there are a majority who were touched and take that little extra time when it suits, and unfortunately, there is a hard-core section who will never change, because it will never happen to me.
That is where I am going to share with you the two things that have been said over the month that have really stuck in my mind. So, I am going to start back to front the first was from David CEO of Unifrax he said
‘Gentlemen, We are in a battle everyday for the hearts, behaviours and attitudes for the people who work for us!’
It is really strong language to use, but he is right! In any organisation, there is a battlefield where good practice is fighting bad practice every day.
Where is this battlefield? It is inside the employees themselves, where the battle is taking place. They are the ones who are having this constant battle with themselves over good practice and bad practice. Like with all wars there are casualties, the minor injuries, the major injuries and the fatal injuries.
The war is slowly being won! Casualties are coming down as a whole the message is getting through, but it has hit a wall, as stats show the momentum has started to slow and stall.
In addition, this is where the second part that hit home comes into play. Senior Managers/Leaders are going to have to change tack to get that final push; they cannot be 19th Century Generals sitting on horseback directing the battle from the back anymore!
They are going to have to go back to basics and do what Henry V and Alexander the Great did and fight, shoulder to shoulder with their men and live amongst their men too! The message has to be lead from the front!
This is where the second thing plays it’s hand, while Andrew Garner was presenting at the OPITO conference he told the audience that they needed to shift their views and stop using buzz words concerning downturns, upturns, but to view the world’s current situations as 'this is the new reality! Deal with it.'
The new reality is to enhance a culture you need to be amongst it, you need to be in it! Living it, breathing it and be amongst it.
Back in June I commissioned a video, to get my service more noticed.
Where do you start? Well, for me it was easy! I was going to use the game of chess to deliver the message. I have played chess since I was about 9 years old. I'm not a grandmaster, but a steady player.
Chess is a game of endless moves and situations, just like real life. And just like real life we make mistakes, some little and we get away we it. Unfortunately, sometimes there are big mistakes and we lose the game.
So, at the end of August Shaun from Beautiful Life Media done his magic and produced the promotional video below.
Video by Beautiful Life Media
The Opposite Veiw
Have you ever stood somewhere to carry out a task struggling to work out how to get that nut on, and then suddenly someone comes along and puts it on for you with ease, and you’re then standing there feeling a little silly, wondering how they did it?
With a smile on their face they tell you that they are left-handed and it was easy as they explain how to reach in and put it on.
Having been left-handed for 27 years, until I had a disagreement with a screw conveyor. I always had to take the opposite view on how to fix machines. It was natural to use both hands to carry out tasks around machines, I say that even though, since my incident I suffer from a condition called Retro Amnesia, I can’t remember being left-handed, there are some things that I carry out today that make me lean towards my left hand side, especially around sport.
2 years into talking to organisations around the country about that fateful day, it is or isn’t so, surprising that organisations still don’t recognise the importance that people see the world in different angles or views. And then carry those tasks out in a similar fashion, with Safety Advisors scratching their heads, with why would you want to stand there or get in there to carry out that task.
On average 10-12% of the workforce will be left-handed(1), a small amount, but a big enough amount that can cause issues when trying to understand why would someone would want to get in a position that would cause them harm.
The organisations that I have visited very rarely consider writing risk assessments or safe work procedures that factor in the left-handed operator, or engineer. This doesn’t mean that organisations need to rush out and write a whole lot of new risk assessments or procedures, but it will mean that an extra little time will be needed to think outside to box in how that left-handed employee will see that task and the hazards that they face that are not always seen.
That day when I had a simple task to clear that screw was complicated because to clear the screw I had to turn my back away from my shift mate to put my left arm in the screw, where a right handed employee would have kept their eyes on the same shift mate, as to put your right arm in meant turning their body towards the shift mate.
It would be interesting to see whether the left-handed employee appears more in accident books as research may suggest(2) that the left handed employee has less spatial awareness. It’s not all bad news employing that left-handed employee, according to Mensa(3) that 20% of its members are left-handed, so get them in that research and design department, to sort out that issue on the floor or new machinery.
In a recent survey from Lefthandersdat.com(4) left handed employees would prefer to be in your IT or Marketing Departments.
Finally, looking at the HSE stats(5) around 600 people a year suffer from an amputation of some kind (Finger/s or toe/s to full arm/s or leg/s) how many are above average to left handers is hard to say. One good thing that it is find left handed stroke victims(6) recover faster than right handers, it may be said that it could be said that amputees may recover faster as well. My own experience would say yes I did recover faster, as the world is set up for the right hander, so adjusting to a new life on the opposite side, was like a duck taking to water.