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.
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
Many people go through their working lives without incident and retire to live long happy lives with their families!
What about the ones who don’t manage to retire unscathed? The ones who either never see their families again or in my case took a month to come home and was never able-bodied again. Back in 2000/01 I was one of 27000 people who had a major injury at work. Doing what was expected of me, getting the job done so I was paid to keep food on the table and roof over their heads and my organisation produced its products to sell to other organisations around Europe.
This is what millions do every day up and down the country providing their service, knowledge and skills in helping organisations make money. So, that the owner or shareholders enjoy the riches of their successes.
We are very good at stating figures in Health and Safety, that we are reducing incidents and injuries across organisations and the HSE produce stats that defines lots of information. One question needs to be asked, what does all these figures look like? I stated earlier that I was one of 27,000 people who stuffed a major injury at work in 2000/01, so what does 27,000 people look like? The answer is, a full Carrow Road, home of Norwich City FC. Yes, a middle size football stadium in England.
As a nation are we prepared to say that once a season, a group of people attending a game of football at Norwich City will be maimed in some way? The answer is should be NO! Unfortunately the answer is YES! We as a nation are prepared to accept a full football stadium once a season to be maimed!
It’s like airplane crashes today thankfully, they’re very few and far between now because of public opinions and the change in technological advances. Looking at the HSE stats going back since 2008/09 around 150 people die every year at work, this equates to an airliner (say a plane used by EasyJet or Ryan Air) crashing once a year! Would that be acceptable having a cheap fares airliner crashing each year? No! It would destroy the cheap fare airline industry dead. The answer is as a nation we accept around 150 families losing a member each year while they are in the working environment.
It’s not just injuries (fatal or non-fatal) that have the terrible effects on families, it is the occupational health issues as well, take cancer and lung disease around 13,500 new cases are reported each year according to the HSE, which is just over 4 Queen Mary 2 cruise ships a year being filled.
Well, what’s the cure to a safer and healthier working environments? There isn’t one while we have beliefs, cultures and ignorance to the facts that we have dangerous environments and no job should be rushed to get the job done, as we’ll save time and money.
Some people point to the fact that British manufacturing has declined over the years that’s why we are seeing a fall in the numbers of injuries and deaths. As the British economy is now more service focused.
You can’t knock the good work the HSE and others (bodies or individuals) what they have done in helping reduce these figures. There needs to be a refocus, possibly a thinking outside the box is needed in bringing the figure down further.
Talking about thinking outside the box maybe the subject of health and safety should be introduced into schools (secondary) and put on the national curriculum? This way the nation has a group of young people joining the working world already with a better understanding of what is right or wrong in the working environment.
The other bonus to this thinking is that organisations will have to join up their thinking on how health and safety is promoted into their own organisations, as the national curriculum will dictate how children are taught health and safety and they will have an opportunity to put their ideas forward so in the end, the nation will have a one vision for health and safety in driving it forward. It will end a lot of this organisation does things this way because they believe in X theory or another organisation believes in Y theory.
Now I can hear a lot of people saying don’t we wrap our children up in too much cotton wool now, as when we were children we would play out in the streets or in the fields for hours and by teaching children health and safety, they will just not go out at all and hide under their beds. I say NO as if the education is pitched right it will allow the new generation going into the working environment appreciative of the hazards and risks that surround them and will have a better understanding of this.
So, what about the people in the working environment already? It’s more of the same setting the right culture, behaviour and leadership that is visible and consistent, but more importantly the right intervention! And the wiliness to challenge the unsafe acts and conditions.
We need to get rid of the FEAR factor of reporting near misses, but encouraging them to be reported, so that the near miss doesn’t lead to a major incident. So, how best to achieve this? It needs a change in mind-sets, rather than throwing money at the issue (in the form of rewards) or moaning about them happening, as it something too hard to deal with, as there is already too much to do. It just needs the organisation as a whole to embrace that near misses happen from time to time and use it as a learning for all concerned and the wider population in the organisation.
We need to remember the author Robert Anthony’s words “When you blame others, you give up your power to change.”
Last week after a year of studying, revising and a couple of resits (exams), I finally passed my NEBOSH General Certificate. The journey started last year in London and for a whole fortnight of attending lessons and commuting, I took my first set of exams.
I really don't know what is worse sitting for 4 hours writing as fast as you can to answer the questions or waiting 10 weeks for that results letter popping through the letterbox?
Waiting 10 weeks is definitely worse! It's the doubt that creeps in to your mind, the questioning of whether you answered the questions right and whether you better get the thick books out to start revising again.
For people who have gone through the process to pass their NEBOSH General Certificate, it takes over their lives. No matter what you do, even on a day away from studying you end up looking at things and seeing where it fits in with Section 2 of the Health and Safety Act 1974 or the Management Regs of 1999.
For those who finally pass, all the hardwork taken place, it is worth. Finally, realising that the safety world is their oyster! For me it has laid a foundation to question myself further into what I did that day in November 2000, but also before that day (starting way back to the start of my working life).
For everyone who passed last week congratulations, for those who need to resit, I know how it feels (that deep feeling of disappointment in yourself) and for those who have just started out or thinking about doing your NEBOSH General Certificate - go for it! Its not easy, there will be days where it will seem it would be easier to do something else, as the information just doesn't sink in, but in the end its worth it - all that hardwork and investment in yourself will be hugely beneficial not just for yourself, but the people you work with and their families because with your knowledge you will be setting the standards so everybody goes home safe everybody and coming to work safe as well.
NEBOSH General Certificate is only one stepping stone in the river to keeping yours and other feet dry crossing that river, but for the safety professional it is a necessary stone to use.
Finally, for those who are waiting for that letter in 10 weeks times, it will pass like a flash! Just keep strong and confident! You did just great! Believe.
So, what makes my job rewarding? Well it's when you get emails from attendees just like the ones below.
I attended your course at Romiley Board Mill yesterday.
I would just like to say a huge Thank you to you all for the delivery of such a powerful insight into safety at work.
Your stories were so moving and really have touched myself and the other attendees.
The course itself was the very best 'health and safety' session I have ever sat, it certainly gave us all wake up call to how important it is to look out for ourselves and others and to always think of the bigger picture.
It was a pleasure to meet you all and I wish you all the very best in the future.
> speaking to you at IOSH meeting in Hull Yesterday , I found was emotional with regards to your accident. and all you said I could relate to in my current workplace. I would just like to Thank you again for you story and the chat, you have inspired me to communicate and interact with all my work colleagues( Managers& shop floor staff) in closing gaps and production can be carried out safe and good morale in the workforce will meet production targets more safely and within time. Kind Regards
> Steve Larvin Bsc Hons
It means a lot to me that someone sitting there has taken the time to write and express their feelings to you. In that it has inspired them to work safer and it will have a knock on affect to their love ones and work colleagues.
It's great to know that short time that I spoke to Anne and Steve will have a lasting presences on them in a good way.
Why am I writing this blog? I write it as I'm sitting at home with a few moments reflecting on the last 3 years of delivering speeches about my accident in November 2000 and the effects afterwards.
I have travelled the length and width of the country (UK) talking to thousands of people from many industries (paper [my own], construction, food and drink, aviation and farming). I have attended (as guest speaker) conferences as well, so other industries have been covered as well without my knowledge. In November this year I will be attending the OPITO Safety and Competence Conference in Abu Dhabi (http://www.opito-oscc.com/speakers.asp) and will talk about them horrific moments back in 2000, so my message will be going worldwide.
Yes, it will have an impact to the audience, the some as all the others that I have spoken to, and for a time it will make the difference, just like the story I tell concerning the little boy, the starfish and his granddad.
This is where I'm going the ask the question, that I have asked myself lately 'Is Time the Biggest Safety Device?' when I tour factories and sites around the country, I see some fantastic safety devices and behaviour, but one thing I do notice is that the amount of time, I hear people talking about 'how much time they have to complete tasks?'
It is not just in the workplace, its people rushing around to get to connecting travel options or when your driving seeing 'white vans' or 'sales reps' rushing down the outside lane to get to where they need to be!
Thinking about November 2000, those involved and afterwards can't turn back time, as much as we would like to, we can't, but for those of you that read this blog. You have TIME to change the habits that your currently in, so use that time wisely to make the difference, and don't end up like myself or the other 20,000 people in the UK each year that end up having a major injury at work.
As much as organisations put in place guards, training, risk assessments and safe systems of work. How many talk about time? Yes, there are some that talk about take 5 (and yes that's great when assessing the task), but how many actually talk about getting operators and engineers etc to slowdown their demeanour for the day at work and to and from as well.
I not saying that everybody now goes around at a snails pace, but I'm saying that we need to slowdown and think through the actions we take every moment and not just them times, when the task looks a little tricky.
Take care now, tomorrow and do it not just for yourself, but your family as well as they look forward to having you home.
Please find a poster that you can download for your organisation. The poster will open in a new window, when you click on the link.
Risk: A situation involving exposure to danger. (1)
Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. (2)
Having a quick search on the internet, I couldn’t find anything that linked the 2 to safety, so my question is this the possible missing link to give organisations that right push in the direction of health and safety excellence?
I remember giving a speech to Health and Safety Professionals and one of the questions was about my advice on what I would do about improving health and safety in the workplace.
My answer was simple and by the way that some reacted it was alien to them, the answer was this YOU NEED TO GET OUT OF YOUR OFFICES AND SEE THE GUYS/GIRLS ON THE SHOPFLOOR! You may say that’s what we do, but by the reaction of some in that room, they wasn’t expecting it.
I look at it like this an organisation is like either a household, where everybody lives under one roof and they all know within reason what is happening. Or they are neighbours where they have a passing interest in each other, but when the doors are shut, they get on with their own business, no matter if it is in the wider benefit on the street, as long as it gets them to where they need to be.
That room had some households, but the majority were neighbours! This is worrying that they are neighbours, the Health and Safety Professional should be seen on the shop floor, more offend than not, they are the ones that should have the risk empathy of the operator and/or engineer, the need Health and Safety Professional to see the risk that the operator and/or engineer are getting into and have the understanding of why the operator and/or engineer will take the risk.
The English language has been used to confuse the words empathy and sympathy, so now people think the 2 words are the same. Where in fact they are different, sympathy is about feeling and empathy is understanding.
You need to ask yourself, do you have an understanding for the operators/engineers at your site? If you do great, but have you missed something on site? If you haven’t, then why not? Maybe you need to get back to work first thing and have that tour of the floor and see and talk to the operators/engineers and get to see what they are doing and why they are doing what they are.
Things must work both ways as well, operators/engineers needs to understand that the Health and Safety Professional has a job to as well, and maybe to get that buy in from them, you need to let them see and be involved in some of your work, that your involved in.
So, let me conclude have you thought about the risk empathy that your operators/engineers take to complete their daily tasks to help the organisation achieve its goals (KPIs). If you have great and if you have, there should be low incidents on site, as you have an empathy of what the operators/engineers do and can see why they do the things they do. If you don’t what’s stopping you? You really need to get out and see them (the operators/engineers working). They will respect you more for it.