• Antony Kitchener
    I work for a DHB and I am reasonably new to the health and safety sphere. I am interested to know what peoples views are regarding institutionalised/entrenched behaviours and attitudes towards health and safety and what methods/techniques can be used for resolving issues where such barriers are in place. Does anyone have any thoughts?
  • Take 5 OHS Consultants
    Hi Anthony, Our company come across this frequently. We find that after speaking with the person that is resistant to change, that they often feel undervalued or ignored.

    When these people are involved in a change we find that it is best to gather the team and ask them for feedback on the task/ area that requires change before the procedure / plan is looked at. This process may take 30 minutes in a meeting or a five minute email but it often means the participants are more engaged and made to feel included in the decision. It is certainly worth the time than spending months or years with people not getting involved and resisting the change.
  • TracyR
    The attitudes are generally influenced by the type of culture within the business. If the leaders do not lead change and set the example the culture will not change. if the people leaders are disinterested in the welfare of their staff, don't give feedback on issues and are proactive this staff will not report incidents, engage or participate. I would recommend doing some research into behavioural based safety and implementing some initiateives around that
  • Peter Scanlan
    Hi Antony. The DHB will have H&S Committees and H&S Reps. This might be a good avenue for discussion of entrenched attitudes to H&S. If there are areas of concern these can be discussed,and minuted, so that they are recorded. There can then be recommendations made to senior management from the Committee. If management fail to act on these recommendations, and the Committee/Reps believe that this failure may lead to serious harm (which might be psycho-social harm) then the Committee/Rep could take the matter up with WorksafeNZ. However, a responsible PCBU will act on such matters before it comes to that...hopefully. It may be that the DHB managers are not aware of their responsibilities under the HSWA 2015. If that is the case, then they probably need to seek out an appropriate training course, or do some research, to get up to speed.
  • Tony Walton
    Keep ypur head down, process your stuff, report what management wants and try to keep things simple for effectiveness. Appreciate your vision but suggest taking Tracy R's advice and read everything by Todd Conklin. You will need a very clear and persuasive case for the management team bureaucrats to let you loose on strategy and accountability.
  • Mel Brown
    Hey Antony, I work In a industry that is by in large historic!! the average age of my organisation is 55yrs. I encounter these barriers/attitudes you speak of quite often. You cant wave a magic wand and expect to fix it over night. However what I found useful was at the heart of the matter for these loyal hard working experienced people was this. People who have been in the industry longer than 30yrs felt disrespected and found it insulting for others to tell them how to do a job & do it safely!!

    How would you feel if you have been doing the job for a long time and someone half your age, with all of 5mins of experience and a jumped attitude with no people skills expects you to follow the rules that he sets because he is in a position of authority!!

    My tack was this, find the most influential people (not management) on the shop floor, H&S rep or long serving personnel. Build a relationship of empathy with them, by that ask them questions that allow them to vent because its built up frustration that is the barrier for progress. Empathise and agree even if you don't !! Now, explain that you need help & assistance in a certain area, and ask if he/she could help you? what this does is now take away the focus of fixing a corporate target or organisation goal into helping you.
    Most old school people have strong values and entrenched principles which means they still like helping out when asked correctly. So don't tell them what to do (Ask them what to do) you'll find that they'll respect you a lot more as well. :-)
  • Kirsten Olsen
    Really good suggestions
    I agree that there are no magic wand. So it is a good idea to find out why people put up the defences. There might be different reasons. So, yes it is a good idea to work with them and listen to them. Create a community of practice. So that they find out that you are genuine. It might be that people are reluctant to change because somebody higher up the organisational or professional hierarchy don’t want changes. Then it is a different place you need to focus your attention.
    To give you more specific advice or to help you find your strategy you might need to be more specific. It might also be a good idea to talk to other that are in the same situation as you in another DHB. A person that does not give you a solution but helps you find your solution that fits you and the organisation you are in.
    Good luck :smile:
  • Ross Collinson
    ReplyOptions0Kirsten Olsen
    Hi Antony,

    This idea of changing culture may require a multifaceted approach from the PCBU & the "Officers" within the organisation. You could have a look at where you think your weaknesses are i.e. it's one thing to quote the H&S Act 2015 but from that the PCBU needs to introduce a Policy, make sure that "Officers" are aware of their responsibilities and the reasons why, introduce a change in machinery where needed i.e. safety brakes, appropriate signage, follow up on known hazards to see if these can be further minimised, Safe Working Instructions, keep on reminding responsible staff of their responsibilities as this does take time to drum-in to even key staff, and finally "walk-the-talk". All of this is tiresome and can be misconstrued at wasting your time but just keep beating the drum and eventually you will start to educate people. The education must start with key people though.
    Accountabilities for key staff is important as otherwise they will chose to turn a blind eye or leave it up to "someone else" to deal with the problem.

    Best of luck

    Ross Collinson
  • Antony Kitchener
    Hi all.
    Thanks for the suggestions and comments. Its very useful. I agree that its certainly not going to be a quick fix to change an organisations culture, and coming with a "big stick" approach just produces resistance. I will try the 'I need your help' approach and have a good read of Todd Conklin. Thanks for your help.
  • Helen S
    Hi Antony, coming from a healthcare background I understand what you are dealing with. Culture and behaviour particularly in hospital settings is so deeply entrenched any change has to be slow, well planned and water-tight. I would focus on using what works within the culture, what makes people sit up and take notice? In hospitals, evidence-based practice rules, so use this to your advantage, develop your change/improvement programme using research as your friend. And be patient like you never have before... I once wrote a Reportable Events policy and procedure for a DHB...it took 2 years and 19 revisions to get it signed off... persistence pays... eventually!!!
  • Rob Carroll
    Start looking at the organisation. Entrenched behaviours are not by choice for the majority of people - they are systematic of the organisation. Behaviours are driven by the demands (often conflicting) placed on an individual by the organisation and when the demands are competing , something will have to give. For example - non-reporting of incidents is often linked not to the unwillingness to report (who doesn't want to prevent someone else from getting hurt?) but to the organisations response to the reporting of incidents. Ask people "What will happen if you report an incident" rather than "Why don't you report incidents"/ - the truth will come out.
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