• Bright ideas to engage our... older gentlemen workers in H&S

    Hooray for Kimberley, Mark and other replies above.

    Speaking as someone who, these days, definitely falls within the "older male" category, I'm acutely aware that when you have accumulated decades of experience, you tend to get grumpy if a person appears to be offering a solution that's just looking for a problem, (in the older males' view).Then, as a "pocket", these males will fulfill your self-fulfilling prophecy that they are grumpy and unco-operative for as long as you continue to try to convince them. It's like arguing with an auditor - It's like wrestling with a pig in s**t - the auditor (older males in this case), actually enjoy the experience.

    The secret (it shouldn't be one) is failing to at least show enough respect to ask, before assuming you have something good and worthwhile to offer. Once they are convinced you are a twat (rightly or wrongly), the journey back is long and perhaps impossible.

    Suggestion: At the first glimpse of grey hair and beer bellies (particularly if they are tradies, technicians, engineers, scientists, even senior operators), go into listening mode. But be genuine, these guys have been problem-solving for donkey's years, mostly with no thanks, so they are independent, self-motivated, dogmatic, determined, skeptical and bloody-minded. These are skills that got them through. Now, some upstart is waving a new procedure in their faces. Or god forbid, "safety culture".

    Example: Speak as yourself, don't use "We" as in "We are from Head Office, and we are here to help". The Weasel-Word Radar will spot that one. Maybe say: "I'm interested in these machines. They can do a lot of harm, as I'm sure you know. Please tell me how you make sure they are de-energised before you work on them".

    My bet is you will get an answer. Don't now jump in with your pet project. Show interest, ask more questions, build a picture. I'm not going to develop this too far, but you get the idea. At some point, you will be able to say something like "I'm glad you guys are aware of the risk and you are doing bla bla, but there's one or two concerns I have and here they are. How can we fine tune a bit?" Do not quote rules and regulations to a group. Save that for the one or two stubborn buggers and do it sparingly, one-on-one.

    It's not a magic wand, but this is the way to get these "experts" onside. You will probably get better than you wanted, in a fraction of the time, with little or no kicking and screaming.

    And imagine a "pocket of older males" putting their very partisan support behind your end result...
  • Safety Policy Statements - you are committed to what?
    Andrew, I didn't give you a like for this old chap. As an ex-auditor, I worry about people like you. Just play the smoke and mirrors gameSimon Lawrence
  • Safety Policy Statements - you are committed to what?
    Andrew, I didn't give you a like for this. As an ex-auditor, I worry about people like you. Just play the smoke and mirrors game, there's a good fella. Auditors have a hard enough life without common sense creeping in
  • Safety Policy Statements - you are committed to what?
    Some good thoughts, however, I'd just like to reinforce what Rachael says above: My post is aimed specifically at the traditional "Safety Policy Statements". This is typically a one-page signed statement making rather vacuous value statements about safety. It is mostly framed and sits in the reception area. Fairly safe from people who would throw their coffee dregs at it.

    For as long as I can remember, the word policy has been confused with, and synonymous with procedures. "The principal requires a copy of your safety policy". This seems to mean "your procedure manual". As Rachael says, a policy is NOT a procedure. For example, you may have a policy of equal employment opportunities as a general aim, but procedures may describe in detail how recruitment and retention is conducted to achieve this.

    So I want to be at pains to emphasise I support procedures. Manuals are fine as long as you don't inflate them. I'm also in favour of policies. But you don't need to publish policies to have them admired. Because they mean nothing without action. In this brave new world, we have identified virtue signalling for what it is, (weasel). That's why my post on this suggests that if we have a wishy washy Safety Policy Statement, we deserve to be interrogated.
  • Moving up the hierarchy of controls
    Agree in principle we can move up the hierarchy when opportunities arise to improve, but "all we can do right now" sounds a bit sketchy!
  • Moving up the hierarchy of controls
    While we are quoting the law, Part 2 of the Purpose of the Act is also worth throwing in. If, indeed managers do care to be inspired by legislation, this makes it clear that looking up the hierarchy or down, the highest practicable place is what's required:

    "(2) In furthering subsection (1)(a), regard must be had to the principle that workers and other persons should be given the highest level of protection against harm to their health, safety, and welfare from hazards and risks arising from work or from specified types of plant as is reasonably practicable."

    Some would argue "why stop there?" My answer is that interpretation of "Reasonably practicable", if applied properly, gets you to a perfectly good place. Exceed it if you will, but I'm just not a believer in the literal meaning of Zero Harm. If I'm flying in a plane, or even sitting in my house, I have a tiny chance of harm. We must continue to improve controls where effective new measures become available that are in proportion to the risk. But doing things that are frankly ridiculous and cause no significant reduction of risk is what you do if you are somewhat mad.

    I guess I'm agreeing with the premise of being as high up the hierarchy as practicable, but the other side of the coin is reaching a point of fully diminished returns for all concerned. So we need also to know when to say "If a little was very good, more isn't necessarily better".

    I've always believed that intelligent people respond better to a balanced set of rules where pragmatism is part of the answer. My suggestion is if we want managers to get to the optimum level in the hierarchy, instead of exhortations to be better just for the sake of it (they see right through that), we give them the whole story. And the whole story also says "Here's where you can stop, at least for now".

    Safety is too often treated as a crusade where we tell managers myths and porkies to manipulate them.
  • Moving up the hierarchy of controls
    I'm assuming we are talking about managers who actually do give a monkey's about safety? (Because even being hammered by the law won't change those who don't give a monkeys and never will).

    Assuming it's the former, it may seem simplistic, but my feeling is that managers don't understand the meaning of what is now called "Reasonably Practicable". It hasn't really changed from "All Practicable Steps". It's the only real guide we have that's set in stone. If I wanted to assess if there is a duty to go to the next level up the hierarchy, that's where I'd go. But in my experience, managers mostly do not "get" this.

    Primarily, it's a risk based decision, how likely, how severe. But it's also a bit more: What controls are available and how effective they would be looking. Finally, there is an available cap on it by allowing for the cost of controls being grossly disproportionate for the risk.

    I suggest managers really don't "see" this. They either err on the side of caution and wrap in cotton wool, or they don't recognise their obligation because they just don't understand the risk-based duty. And the opportunity it gives to apply common sense.
  • Frivolous Friday
    So we all agree that Boardroom wonks are Boardroom wonks. And the solution is?
  • Frivolous Friday
    That’s sex-ist, data-ist, paygap-ist, safety-ist and any other “ist” with which I can categorise you Andrew
  • Frivolous Friday
    Judge: Court in session, bring forth the accused. And what is your name?
    Accused: Lost Time Injury Rates m'lud.
    Judge: Haven't I seen you in the Safeguard Forum Court several times already? You come before me accused of deceptive practices, absence of meaning and statistical deficiency. How do you plead?
    Accused: I ain't done nuffin. It's all lies, misinformation, bias, smoke and mirrors.
    Judge: So you agree?
    Accused: Yes m'lud. I mean no m'lud. Not guilty.
    Judge: Very well then. Who appears for the Prosecution?
    Learned Lawrence: May it please Your Honour, 'tis I, Learned Lawrence. Herewith, my Submission:

    Lost Time Injury Rates - Dark Arts in the Boardroom

    Judge: And who appears for the Defence? No one? In that case, Mr Lost Time Injury Rates, on Frivolous Friday, I will entrust the hearing of the above Submission to any members of the Forum who wish to speak to it. But I warn you that they may or may not speak in support of it.
    Accused: But we've done this before. I've got some Boardrooms to go to.
    Judge: Yeah, but now we've got a proper Submission. Remain seated.
  • Frivolous Friday
    Good on you Darach. I think it's all in the word "passion". As I said in the post, the word "conviction" works better for me. But if Darach Cassidy is "convinced" about the integration of safety into the mainstream business and he can communicate that in logical, businesslike way, he's a winner.
  • Frivolous Friday
    Was Harry that legendary builder who threw away half the nails he was using because "The points were on the wrong end"?
  • Frivolous Friday
    And "Fruitcakes" of course.
  • Frivolous Friday
    Perhaps not entirely frivolous but I just wrote a post called "Passion for Safety. Please no!" It's the first in a series I'm calling "10 Health & Safety Myths - those times we smell a rat". I suspect Andrew might have some he can add.

    My post:

    What does the Forum think about Passion. Does it have a place in safety management?
  • New road safety strategy resonates with H&S thinking
    I think the medium term future will quite soon include pools of shared autonomous vehicles in cities, which will almost eliminate risks. It's therefore a little ironic that we have taken until the dawn of that era to plan for human error.

    Country and provincial driving will be by humans for a very long time, and that's where high speed crashes tend to occur. And I agree with Darren Cottingham above: New Zealand driving attitude is dominated by belligerence, aggression, competitiveness and a sense of entitlement. But we finished carving a niche out of the bush a long time ago. Those qualities are OK in sport but driving must become a heck of a lot more considerate, courteous and cooperative. Why? Because no one actually loses. We all get to where we are going, instead of engaging in a primitive war about being first.
  • Incident Reporting Procedure
    I agree with Tony Walton. The longer you have been in safety, the more you realise there are only two things that actually make a difference: Leadership, and safety routinely being part of communication and discussion. Even becoming something of a consensus.

    Whenever we hear ourselves saying "this piece of paper or that method didn't work", what we are really saying is "We provided a boat but nobody rowed it. Never mind there was an absence of someone called the coxswain, nobody used our lovely boat. It was right there in their faces AND we put up signs!"

    We fish around for "systems that work" but systems only work when there are people who enroll and inspire others every day. Perhaps remorselessly if necessary.

    I like car analogies. Anyone can buy a car if they have the resources. But it doesn't become a car until it has oil in the sump, fuel in the tank, a competent driver with a road map or route to take, checks, inspections, maintenance and last but not least, some "owner" who makes it their business to ensure all that stuff happens. Failure or non-existence of any of those sub-systems leads to the car grinding to a halt. Or never starting.

    Catherine essentially identified the problem with her "car". My senior manager disagrees and likes the current set up. I'm not judging who is right or wrong, but all replies apart from Tony's are offering ideas about systems.

    It's no good offering the "car owner" a new coat of paint if they don't see the need.

    I'd be interested to know at what level (if any) that person is engaged in health and safety, or how they delegate it. Do they have goals for it? What duties do they have, or are they aware of them? Do they require line managers and supervisors to be pro-active in safety? Because "What interests my boss fascinates me". Are they content to just keep a lid on things?

    Maybe they are a supporter and therefore actively involved. In that case, some carefully chosen questions about the opportunities of "Oh shit" moments might help. How about "This (photo) was what happened. No one was hurt, but as you can see, it could have been very much more nasty".

    Whatever is done, there has to be an understanding and agreement with the boss first. Actions taken on near misses or workers' grizzles does more to gain engagement and consensus than a thousand pieces of paper.
  • New thinking in health & safety - community of practice
    I think this suggestion deserved more than 4 days deafening silence Craig, but you may need to expand a bit more. After all, isn't "a community of practice" just what this Forum is?

    But maybe what differentiates your idea is in the title - "New thinking"?

    If you want to break new ground, challenge conventional thinking and throw a few moulds against the wall, maybe there's a place for that. I know there are a few people on or around this Forum who like to bust myths and challenge assumptions. That's where "new thinking" comes from.

    Can you post a link to your LinkedIn article?
  • Mythbusters - NZ version
    Looking at open homes yesterday we were asked at three places to read health and safety information, sign it and hold the stair handrails.

    I couldn't really find fault with the intention (arse covering). But what next? "Please don't put your fingers in the electrical sockets"? Hazard information should be reserved for unusual hazards like slippery paths, swimming pools, stairs without handrails, watch your kids. I mean, hire car companies don't caution us to hold the steering wheel do they?
  • The right to disconnect
    I think Chris Hyndman makes a good point by putting the reverse stress management perspective on this. I've no doubt at all that some people want to stay in touch with what's going on at work. Having demands put on you is intrusive but keeping abreast of things is, for some people, better than wondering or getting nasty surprises later on. In my case, being self-employed and having a consulting service and a software service, I welcome hearing enquiries, issues and opportunities any time. The sooner the better. LESS stress, not more.

    So stress is largely a perception thing. And it's not necessarily caused by too much pressure. It can be feeling "not in control", unable to be part of things, even being left out and not having enough of a role to play.

    As others have already stated, the key here is maybe not so much whether the phone is used outside work hours, but whether there is an expectation, judgement or consequences for non-participation. Exceptions are OK when urgent issues or information is being sought and no one else can do it. We all love being the hero...

    I agree with Peter Bateman - any manager who routinely contacts people outside hours with expectations is showing poor management skills. If I call a third party after hours who, for example, does my software development, I do what most decent people do - apologise for the intrusion and ask politely for consent to talk about work.

    Any worker, employee or third party deserves an acknowledgement that even listening to you is granting an exceptional favour that they can decline with absolutely no reason given if they so choose.