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New Year Special Episode – SAFETY’S TOP 21 FOR ‘21

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Happy New Year from The Safety Guru! Are you ready to charge up your Safety strategy for 2021? Listen in to a special, must listen episode: our top 21 predictions for safety in 2021 with Eric Michrowski and Dr Josh Williams. We identified our Top 21 predictions on what to look out for in Safety in 2021. Our list is based on emerging themes in all our interactions with senior leaders.

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Safety’s Top 21 for 2021 1. Mergers and Acquisitions: As the pace of mergers and acquisitions is likely to pick up in 2021, there will be increased attention on integrating Safety Cultures and conducting Safety Culture due diligence, something that isn’t sufficiently front row center today. Doing this well on the front end will help prevent unforeseen cultural challenges for years following the M&A. 2. SIFs and SIF Potential: When you track macro data you can see the significant progress that has been made in reducing injuries over the past 10 years and unfortunately the insufficient progress around SIFs. More and more organizations are starting to realize that actions to reduce SIFs and Potential SIFs are often different. Based on our leadership interactions, we think that 2021 will see more attention being placed in reducing SIFs and Potential SIFs. 3. BeHop – Combining the Best of Behavioral Safety and Human Performance (HOP): Rather than finding ways of integrating new ideas, organizations too often abandon what was working before. That’s the case with Behavioral Safety and HOP – we’ve seen some great ways to integrate the best of both worlds to increase impact and we are seeing more organizations trying to integrate the best of both worlds. For example, instead of checking hardhats, observations can be focused on checking themes such as “are you OK?”, “what would help you do the job better?” and focusing more on the conversation, not the cards. 4. Virtual & Flex Work: Whether you like it or not, it’s here to stay in some shape. Based on a lot of current research, employers who don’t embrace it could face significant retention risks. This shift brings a lot of positive opportunities when properly embraced. Safety teams need to think about how to better adapt to this new reality – from observations, to conversations and personalization of messages. 5. Mental Health: Particularly with COVID-19, studies have shown a significant increase in the rates of depression and anxiety, particularly for those 30 and younger. People are feeling isolated and alone. So mental health is becoming a more common area of focus for safety teams. Both the mental and physical side of safety are so critical going into 2021. 6. Digitization: You can’t turn a page in the newspaper without reading about new apps, tools, technology, robotics… This brings a lot of new opportunities for safety leaders from data to process improvements that reduce hazards and we think the pace of change will continue to increase significantly in 2021. 7. Re-Engineering: A greater focus on removing the hazard. That’s ultimately the best way to impact SIFs. For example, can we send a robot into a confined space or can the work at heights be performed by a drone? With advances in the IoT (Internet of Things), robotics, we are expecting greater advances. 8. Big Brother: With these technological advances (i.e. cameras on job sites, sensors…), there likely will be an increased perception of Big Brother watching. While some of these advances are very positive, organizational change considerations will need to be front row center otherwise we risk seeing people dialing down on their safety ownership. 9. Ownership and No Blame: One of the most positive attributes of Human Performance (HOP) has been the focus on removing the focus on blaming the employee and focusing more on how the system failed. There is a need to combine that with elements of cognitive psychology to increase safety ownership. 10. Rethinking Safety Training: 2021 will continue to see a large generational shift in most workplaces. With that shift there is a need to rethink safety training and safety leadership training: bringing new technologies and micro learnings and moving away from the old classroom approach. We are talking about generations that grew up with iPads and technology day in and day out – there is a greater expectation on more interactive and real time training. 11. Big Data & Predictive Analytics: With advances in technology, Big Data and Predictive Analytics are increasingly becoming incredibly helpful tools to understand where our hazards are located. This can be used to analyze observations or even in some organizations the hazardous jobs that will take place. But at the end of the data, someone still needs to take action which is where Safety Ownership is so critical. 12. Generational shifts in the workplace: As we mentioned in #10, we can expect a greater generational shift in the workplace. This will bring issues and challenges around knowledge transfer and knowledge management. That will need to be a significant area of focus in 2021. 13. Too Much “Lean and Mean”: With more organizations having to reduce operating costs, we are seeing an increase in themes around “not having enough people or resources”, “burnout”, “scheduling challenges”, resulting in an increase in production pressure. Balancing Safe Production messaging and finding the right balance of “lean and mean” will be essential to safety in 2021. 14. Developing Safety Leaders Beyond the Classroom: While leaders often want to have the right impact on Safety, they don’t always have the insights needed to drive higher impact. 360s have provided too little insights as they don’t tie the impact of leaders to front line workers. We see greater use of better 4D insights increasingly being able to help leaders and leadership teams understand how to improve their leadership skills and impact together with Safety Leadership Coaching. 15. Increasing Safety Leadership Commitment: Too often organizations rely solely on training as the lever to improve Safety Leadership and Commitment. While it’s definitely a great tool to leverage, sometimes what’s needed is simply to bring existing safety leadership knowledge to life every day. We’ve seen great success focusing on building commitments, habits, and even micro habits to make safety real. In lean times, this can be a great lever to drive rapid impact. 16. Safety Supervision: Often Supervisors have the greatest ability to influence the Safety Ownership of frontline team member. Yet it’s often the level of leadership that receives the least investment. In lean times, this can be the best area of investment – to increase safety coaching and influence skills. 17. Safety Implications of Returning to Work: We’ve got a large portion of the workforce that hasn’t gone into an office for over a year. As they return to work, there will be lots of safety hazards that they will need to be re-accustomed to. That will require focus for safety leaders to draw back attention to the hazards that exist. 18. Psychological Safety: To drive Safety impact, team members need to feel Psychologically Safe to speak up and to feel comfortable calling out unsafe work, stopping work or escalating issues. We’re seeing more and more organizations drive the right emphasis and drive meaningful change and set up systems to get input from people that are on the job, doing the job. 19. Learning Environment: We’re hearing more and more about learning environment. That’s a good trend, we’re going to see more of it in 2021. From safety suggestions, to close calls, to learning from incidents. Additionally, the more involvement and participation from team members, the more the learnings will stick. In a NIOSH study, the participants that were involved in designing their own observation card were 7X more likely to use it than those that were given a great card designed by another group. 20. Emphasis on Brain Science: We’re learning more and more about how the brain works. We know about our capacity to process seven units of information at a time. We’re learning about some biases that get us in trouble like the fundamental attribution error (if I make a mistake, I blame the environment; if someone else makes one, I blame them). That’s problematic with injuries because if I get hurt, I’m more likely to look elsewhere for blame and if I am a leader, I’m more likely to blame the employee. Another example is Confirmation Bias, which can get us into trouble because we’re not always open to new ideas and new thinking. Focusing on an understanding of how our brain works allows us to get rid of some of those biases and increase impact. 21. Health & Safety is More Important than Ever – Make it Count: In 2020, Safety Leaders became essential to help keep businesses open. In most organizations, Safety has gained significantly in terms of executive access. It’s a unique opportunity to capitalize and influence the strategy for the years to come – presenting a balanced view of improving Safe Production. Those are our Top 21 trending themes to drive greater impact on Safety in 2021. Happy New Year!

Safety’s 21 for 2021 Key Topics

1. Mergers and Acquisitions.

2. SIFs and SIF Potential.

3. BeHop.

4. Virtual & Flex Work.

5. Mental Health.

6. Digitization.

7. Re-engineering.

8. Big Brother.

9. Ownership and No Blame.

10. Rethinking Safety Training.

11. Big Data & Predictive Analytics.

12. Generational shifts in the workplace.

13. Too Much “Lean and Mean”.

14. Developing Safety Leaders Beyond the Classroom.

15. Increasing Safety Leadership Commitment.

16. Safety Supervision.

17. Safety Implications of Returning to Work.

18. Psychological Safety.

19. Learning Environment.

20. Emphasis on Brain Science.

21. Health & Safety is More Important than Ever – Make it Count.

For more information on this topic, please read the related blog Safety’s 21 for 2021 at Propulo Consulting.

The Safety Guru with Eric Michrowski

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Eric Michrowski: https://ericmichrowski.com

ABOUT THE GUEST

For more than 20 years, Josh has partnered with clients around the world to deliver customized, sustainable solutions to improve safety culture and prevent SIFs. Dr. Williams earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at Virginia Tech and is a behavioral safety, human performance, and safety culture improvement expert.

Josh is the author of Keeping People Safe: The Human Dynamics of Injury Prevention and co-editor of Keys to Behavior Based Safety. He has published more than 50 book chapters, government reports, white papers, blogs and articles in leading journals. Josh has also delivered hundreds of presentations at leading national conferences and is a highly regarded public speaker. He received the Cambridge Center National First Prize for his research on behavioral safety feedback.

A sample of Josh’s recent projects include delivering a series of motivational presentations, conducting comprehensive strategic planning sessions, and managing safety culture assessments and improvement activities.

Holiday Special – The Top 10 from 2020: Key Insights from the Safety Guru

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A year in review. The Safety Guru’s Top 10 themes and ideas from our 2020 season! Get caught up with the ideas that will help you leave a legacy in 2021! Happy Holidays! 

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Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-Suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized Ops and The Safety Guru public speaker and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi and welcome to The Safety Guru, I’m your host, Eric Michrowski. It’s hard to believe it, but 2020 is almost coming to a close. Our show started broadcasting this year, this tumultuous year in 2020 as a passion project to improve the world of work. I wanted to bring ideas to leaders and executives who are committed to making a difference. Ideas from a diverse set of thought. Leaders from academia and from real world practical application does not speak technical safety, not push a set of ideologies not to pitch something, but rather to bring a collective of insights from inside and outside the traditional world of safety.

That’s why we’re live here on C-Suite Radio, the largest business network in the world, and their listenership keeps growing. I have two awesome episodes to cap off this year. Today, I will share a reflection of the top 10 ideas I heard from my guests on this podcast. In 2020, the next episode on December 31st, we will ring in the New Year with safety is twenty-one four 2021. The top twenty-one ideas to shape your safety strategy for 2020.

One must listen to episode with one of our top guests. None other than Dr. Josh Williams. So now let’s start with a year in Review 10 inspiring ideas for safety leaders. Number 10. It would be hard to end 2020 without talking about mental health in the workplace. We had two great schisms insights on this important topic. First, Dr. Madison Hanscom introduces the impact of mental health in the workplace. She shares an alarming stat, including the disproportionate impact mental health is having on a younger generation and the impact on safety. She highlighted strategies for leaders to speak about mental health and remove the stigma. The second guess we had was Kathleen Dobson, who talk more specifically about the disproportionate impact on the construction industry. She talked about the importance of checking in with people. Kudos for the work in trying to increase a dialog on mental health in construction as she presented a World Mental Health Day topic number nine, Dr. Stephanie came to talk to us about some research that was being done in the health care space, particularly as covid-19 hit the industry at an alarming rate, an industry where the focus was dominated by focus on patient outcomes but didn’t often speak about safety from a worker’s standpoint. She talked about the huge toll, the exhaustion within health care workers as a number of health care workers were often being reduced despite the huge impact of covid-19 in most wars, some truly alarming and considered concerning data points. And we’ll try to check in with her in 2021 to see an update on her research. Next, we go to number eight. As the world was marking Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we spoke to Brian, who spoke about his book The Long Blink, which tells the story of a driver shuttling a truck across Ohio and having a long blink with a cocktail of meds after a first shift, falling a short night’s sleep and permalink altering the life of a family, he shares the quest of the father and taken to try to legislate more, focusing on safety and how, unfortunately, given the nature of the industry, it’s unlikely safety will truly improve with a greater focus on legislation.

Food for thought as you travel across the interstates. While some progress has been made, too many people continue to die on the roads unnecessarily every year, and it’s time for safety to really drive into the driver’s world. Number seven. And speaking of distracted driving, in a long blink, we had Rebecca present top ideas to proof sleep and to improve safety outcomes, a topic we heard a lot of in 2020 as work life boundaries got stretched and people were having trouble sleeping. She shared some tangible ideas from her research in the space of sleep and strategies to get more of it. Yes, less alcohol, less computers before bed, and of course, many more ideas. And also, the importance of leaders speaking about this topic to reduce injuries, i.e., the person who got evicted the night before. I mean, the conversation I had with the leader recently, and it was only uncovered because the leader showed active care. Can you imagine if that worker was using some heavy piece of equipment?

Could have been very easily a. Kudos for that organization for having had that leader actually killed. Then we go to number six, we have to talk about safety. Communication is such an important topic that we even dedicated two episodes to too many businesses. Just mail it in regard to safety communications. First, we had Dr. Josh Williams speak to the importance of one on one with employees, how employees who feel listened to put in more discretionary effort. And he also speaks that he created a free quiz with no catch to help leaders see how they’re doing at Zero Harm Leadership Dotcom.

A self-assessment to help think about how are you doing and how could you get better at safety communication? Well, we also had Dr. Archana, who speaks about the importance of upwards communication, the lateral communication. In other words, how do you get ideas from key members to leaders? How do you get them to collaborate more with each other to prove the rule of safety? So, so critical key things. And we go to number five. Chris came to talk to you about making safety personal while I’m staying safe, both at the frontline level and the leadership level, introducing themes like pictures of loved ones, introducing a personal conversation from leaders on the importance of safety. Such a simple idea, but something I’ve been passionate about and advocating for a very, very long time. I wish more people helped make safety real for everyone. We need the discretion for people to stay safe. We need to stop blame, stop getting people to just mail in their safety. We need one hundred percent from each team member and an extra hundred percent from the company. So that were 200 percent in for safety. Then we go to team number four.

We are back with Dr. Josh Williams, who came with another great set of ideas around safety incentives for year organize. For years, organizational leaders have used safety incentives to try and motivate safety. The rationale was that providing financial rewards for not getting hurt might motivate employees to try harder, quote unquote, for safety. In reality, this often this current encourages non-reporting. Plus, people are already motivated and should be motivated to avoid injuries. Effective incentives should be focused on proactive safety behaviors and efforts.

Rewards should be symbolic and safety. Feel genuine appreciation. Recognition trumps every other incentive and remains the most important. And yet, here’s another free quiz. No cash, no gimmick. Human Performance leader Dotcom, which explores this theme of safety incentives with self-reflection in terms of how are you doing and what you can do to drive improvement, then we go on to theme number three with Bryce Griffler, who spoke to the importance of diversity in safety, how diversity and inclusion is about, bring different perspectives and opinions to the table, starting with maybe a union leader to non-traditional leader that came from a different part of the company, maybe in it to the person that has a completely different background.

Imagine the power of ideas, the most innovative company in the world powered inside your business to improving safety by tapping into diverse and inclusive group and increasing the diversity and inclusion within your safety team. I wish more people spoke about spoke about this. Then we go to theme number two. Now, this was powerful breathily a couple of weeks ago, shared some tangible, sorry, articulate a tangible leadership equation for safety. Wow, what a story.

Two leaders, one had a two point four and another one of zero point five. The first one had only improved by fifty three percent over a few years, the other one by eighty six percent. So, one was a wow success story. The other one was OK. What was the difference between those two leaders? Three key themes. The first one is the wow leader had sixteen items that were articulate with tangible themes and objectives for the team members, things like inspections, corrective action, safety projects and the way rated at twenty percent.

The not so wild leader only had four themes only we did have five percent NEC’s. The commitment theme of leaders. The leader that wow spent 15 hours per week speaking about safety on the shop floor, reinforcing safety, interacting with team members in safety talks four times more than the leader that did. Wow. That leader only spent four hours per week. They were mailing in. A third theme is one leader showed up at seven a.m., six a.m. Stanishev meeting.

So showed up after the starter shift meeting. That was, of course, the non-wild leader versus the wow safety leader showed up at five thirty-eight y five thirty because they started each day. Thirty minutes with our leadership team to talk about safety operations, and then she joined the start of shift meetings to be present. At that point, three key items showing true leadership have been met with real results when it comes to safety. And then we go to number one theme for this year.

I absolutely love the name to Dr. Josh and bring brought to the table. He called it BeHOP: the Integration of behavior. Behavior safety, human performance. Essentially, too many safety leaders have a dogmatic approach to safety, very strong ideology. Who cares? The world at business need results, not ideologies that are fighting with each other for airtime. It’s time to stop fighting, stop fighting between BeHOP and cognitive psychology and any other tool that helps safety.

There is no silver bullet. If there was, we wouldn’t have a show here saying that behaviors don’t matter, and people have no free will makes no sense. Yet some people say that to articulate that our ideas make more sense, he brings some very pragmatic ideas about pushing through a plateau and safety performance and bring ideas from some of the key performance tools to reduce if to behavior-based safety. Some cognitive ideas really bringing different themes from different perspectives to give you real results.

Wow, I love his pragmatic approach to making a difference in safety. What a great set of ideas. Those are my top ten for twenty. Listen in on December 31st as we look forward to the top twenty-one for twenty-one. The top twenty-one safety ideas to make a real difference in twenty twenty-one. Are you ready to leave a legacy? Join us in 20 or 21 as I have another phenomenal lineup of guests and ideas for you.

Hey, and if you know somebody that should be on the show, let me know. Let’s make safety fun, simple and useful for executives and leaders. Let’s make a real difference. Happy holidays from The Safety Guru. Thank you. Happy holidays.

Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-Suite radio. Leave a legacy, distinguish yourself from the pack, grow your success, capture the hearts and minds of your team. Fuel your future. come back in two weeks for the next episode or listen to our sister show with the Ops guru, Eric Michrowski.

The Safety Guru with Eric Michrowski

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Leaders Owning It for Safety! with Brie DeLisi

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Today we are in conversation with Brie DeLisi, Associate Partner with Propulo. Safety Leaders know that Leadership Matters to drive the right Safety Outcomes. In a must listen to episode, Brie helps make that statement real. She demonstrates through her research what Owning It means for safety and how it translates into tangible outcomes. If someone needs convincing on the importance of investing in your leaders, listen in!

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Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-Suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized Ops and The Safety Guru public speaker and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi and welcome to The Safety Guru. Today I’m very excited to have with me Brie DeLisi, she is our associate partner with human performance and business transformation, with years’ worth of experience around safety, safety, culture. She’s done a lot of incredibly powerful work with a lot of different organizations to assess, understand their safety cultures and drive meaningful impact across them. And I’m really excited today because we’re going to talk about a really important topic, which is really around the critical role of senior leaders and how they could drive effective impact in terms of a strong culture.

So, Brie, welcome to the show.

Hello. Thank you for having me.

Excellent. So first, I’d love to hear a little bit about how you got started in this career and some of the goals and experiences that you really had that got you to where you are now.

Yeah, absolutely. So, it’s kind of funny. When I originally picked this field, it was because I had a very strong desire of making. I wanted to help people and I wanted it to be sort of scientifically based. And it was a little bit tricky figuring that out. You know, did I want to go in the direction of the medical field? Did I did I want to go into some of the sciences? And I ended up landing on occupational safety because it felt like such a tangible way to help improve people’s lives.

Yeah. And then it was kind of funny because as I progressed into my you know, I studied occupational safety and health initially, and then I went into the aerospace industry to actually practice occupational safety. And something that I found out pretty quickly was that I was not going to be able to make the impact that I wanted to from a health and safety perspective, because I kind of realized that just as a safety professional, I’m not the one that’s really influencing employees on how to work safely.

I realized pretty quickly that it was the leadership that influenced safety the most and how I could go about influencing that. So that was kind of a turning point in my career for me.

That’s amazing. So, tell me a little bit about that and what kind of triggered that thinking, because I completely agree leaders have such an important impact, how they show up, how they speak about safety, whether they’re part of the conversation or the delegate that has such a significant impact. Tell me a little bit about how you got to that realization was the AHA for you.

So, the AHA really came about when I was, I was actually working with two facilities and noticed that one of them, the one that I worked with, you know the most unfortunately was had terrible safety performance. And I was looking at the other facilities sort of, you know, an hour down the road from us that had much better safety performance. And I just couldn’t understand, you know, we all worked for the same company. Why? And we and we had to follow the same requirements.

Why was there such a difference? And it really started to dawn on me when I was taking, I was actually getting my MBA at the time and I was taking a course in later habits. And I started looking at the leader habits between my facility general manager and the general manager. And for both facilities, this was the senior leadership, the manager, the general manager at the other facility as well. They had completely different leadership styles. So, I decided to take it upon myself to do a little bit of a study between the two facilities.

And tell me about that. What did you find when you started peeling the onion behind the two?

So, the process that I took was I had to be a little bit discreet about it because obviously one of them was at my site and it was the poorer performer when it comes to safety requirements. So, I had to be a little bit discreet. But what I did was I looked at a number of items. I took a look at, you know, I had the opportunity to see, you know, my gym’s schedule, how she worked throughout her day.

And I was also quite close with a lot of folks that were on her leadership team, so. They would give me insights as well, and then and what I did was actually pulled artifacts from both locations, so I pulled people, offered up their performance evaluations for me to review. I had the opportunity to look at sort of the leadership practices on both sides. I also looked at some of the inspections there, their audit performance, and then also, of course, their injury rates.

And I did also have the pleasure of being able to interview the senior leader at the higher performing location. She was very gracious in allowing me to sit down and talk to her for two hours about what she. Implemented from a safety perspective and how she emphasized it, and I had some really interesting findings as a result of this study.

And so, tell me more. I’d love to hear those findings. This is really exciting themes for somebody who is passionate about safety. Should be no surprise behind it. But the problem is often it doesn’t get quantified, right?

Yeah, absolutely. So, part of it was I had sort of my qualitative and quantitative sides of this. So, I’ll start off with the qualitative side. So first off, I started looking at sort of leadership practices. And one thing that I found on the for our poorer safety performance facility are our GM there. She would arrive at 7:00 a.m. when the field shift started at 6:00 a.m. So, she was coming in an hour after main operations had already started.

Another thing that I noticed was that she only had staff meetings about once a week and there was no expectation from those staff meetings that those discussions be carried out with the rest of the employees as well. So, it was a very sort of isolated event. Interesting. She didn’t go out into the facility that much. And also, some feedback that I had gotten from employees was that people would be, you know, breaking safety rules right in front of her and she wouldn’t do anything.

She didn’t say anything at all. So that was sort of the one thing that I felt kind of from the leader habit side for her. And then on the flip side, at the higher performing location, that general manager started her day at five thirty in the morning and the field started at six 30. So, she was there an hour before and the main shift started. And what she said was there was an expectation that all of the other all of her leadership team was to be there at five, 30 as well.

And she began every day with a 30-minute staff meeting. And in that staff meeting, they would discuss everything from safety to operations to finance to whatever perhaps quality was included in their just what were the high priority items. And then there was an expectation that that information then flows out to the operations for their start of shift meetings at six thirty. So, it was this continuous flow of communications from the senior leader down through the field. And with that, she also was very engaged with safety.

So, whenever she went out onto the shop floor, she would make a point to talk to employees about safety feedback that I had gotten from their health and safety managers that they had at that location and said that she was the one that was driving a lot of safety conversations with operations. It wasn’t the responsibility of safety to have those conversations. He viewed it as the responsibility of leadership. So those were kind of the quality or the qualitative sides there of sort of how they as leaders showed up differently.

I think this is phenomenal. I think the start of shift, meaning it’s talked about so often in terms of safety, in terms of operational performance, it just shows up in terms of that that element, the transparency, the showing up part. Was there something between the two leaders? And I don’t know if you actually looked at this in terms of that triggered why safety was so critical for her?

Yes. So, this was actually quite interesting at this higher performing site when she had started in as GM, the most alarming metrics to her. And this was in comparison to the rest of the company, to be perfectly honest, their safety performance was terrible. It was actually worse than the site that I was working at the time when she first started as GM. And there was a change also in operations where at that time the head medical staff at that location started reporting to her as well, because they lost that that middle management.

And it was coming to light to her that they had a whole bunch of gaps in their safety systems, in their emphasis on safety. And she had a really good understanding of also honestly what it was costing the facility. So, there is the human side of it that she totally respected. But she also had firsthand views as to how much these injuries were impacting the company, both from a financial and a personal perspective. And on the flip side, at the at the poorer performing location.

You know, she had been in that role for 20 years at that point, and it was kind of, you know, at the at the beginning of those 20 years, you know, safety was not the highest priority. OSHA was kind of at that point, it was definitely requirements for OSHA. Compliance was good enough. Injury rates didn’t matter quite that much, and there was just no motivation for her to change.

Wasn’t it? So, it was not something that she was passionate about that really resonated, it sounds like, versus for the other leader. This was something that was very personal, which is consistent. I’ve definitely seen that all great safety leaders I’ve seen there’s always a very strong personal motivation for safety. It’s not some metric, it’s not a piece of paper. It’s something tangible. It’s about people making sure that you’re not harming them, that you’re returning them back to their families in the same shape or better than when they came in the morning.

Yes. Yes, definitely. And then also on the flip, so that was the qualitative side on the quantitative side. This is what I found very interesting as well, was I actually got access to performance evaluations for the leadership teams, for both of these GMs. And then I also had access to their calendars. So, I got to see how they actually scheduled out their weeks. And a couple of very interesting findings came in. So first off, for their time personally at the poor performing location, the average amount of time that she spent with any touching safety whatsoever, whether it was in meetings, reviewing metrics, having meetings with the health and safety manager, all that came out to about four hours per week now at the higher safety performing site that GM spent 15 hours per week touching safety in some way or another, whether it was in her staff meetings and safety would always come up in her staff meetings.

It was always in that sort of shift, meeting those 30 minutes every single day. And then she would also block out time on her calendar every single day to walk the floor and talk other toys about safety, among other things. But safety was always a pressure conversation. So, she was spending 11 hours more per week focusing on safety. And then on top of that, there was the expectations of their leadership teams. What were their what were they holding their leadership team?

So, I got to I got to look through some of some folk’s performance evaluations. And at the poor performing site, they had four items listed on the on their performance evaluations, and it was weighted at five percent of their entire performance evaluation. All safety items were only six percent. And those items were incredibly vague, like reduce injury rates and follow safety requirements. There were no tangibles there. It was very vague, whereas at the higher performing site, they had 16 items for safety on their performance evaluations and the safety items were weighted at 20 percent of their performance evaluation.

So that meant she there was an emphasis, 20 percent of their performance evaluation. They had to perform for safety and it included specific tasks like conducting inspections, corrective action, completion time, completing safety projects. It was very tangible and accessible for these managers and supervisors to know what the expectations were of them and that would matter for their bonus that they were going to get. And also, it was fabulous that it was tied to mostly more of the proactive and leading indicator types of behaviors.

It wasn’t focused on just reducing injuries.

I love both of these data points four times more, almost four times more time spent talking about safety, leading for safety. That’s huge. I have for four years I’ve been telling leaders, just build a pie chart and say whatever your number one priority is. If you if you keep saying it’s safety, the safety actually represents the biggest chunk of time when you spent or is spending more time on financial is more time in in meetings, on other topics because people notice it.

If you’re spending fifteen hours in a week, people say she’s serious about safety. It’s important to them and therefore maybe it should be important to me. Same thing with you with the weights in terms of that. The importance. Five percent is like, whether I do this or not is not that important, 20 percent is starting to get my attention. I need to do something. And you’re guiding what that looks like. Love it. This is this is phenomenal stuff.

Yeah, absolutely. And after so looking at all of this data and looking at the differences, I’d also like to share what their actual injury rates. Sure. It was. So, they had at this poor performing location at the time of this study their total recordable incident rate or their trial was two point four. So that means two point four recordable injuries for every hundred employees. And over the course of the two years, so it was from 2012 to 2014, they experienced the fifty three percent reduction in recordable injuries, which I will say is quite commendable.

That is sure. That is a great it’s a lot of people would love that.

Yes, yes. At the higher performing location, they experienced an eighty six percent drop in their total recordable incident rate. And that meant at the time that I had talked to them, they had a zero point five try R, which was totally different circumstance. Yeah, completely different. And I will say the two years at the beginning of those two years in 2012, the R who we call now our high performer, they were twice as bad as the location that I was that I was working at.

And they managed to turn everything around in a matter of two years. And it really, really was quite impressive.

This is phenomenal, and I think you’ve really captured so many of the key variables in terms of how leaders not just show up, it’s not rocket science to improve safety. It’s where you show up, what you do, what messages you send. So can you can in your words, what would be the major takeaways from the work, the study that you did here and exactly the same company, same environment. So, in theory, you should have the same culture, but so, so different, right?

Yes. And what I really got out of this was two major learning. So, the first one is that the emphasis that a leader puts on safety will directly correlate to a reduction in injuries and are very important about how that emphasis is placed. So, if it’s a, you know, yelling at people saying reduce your injuries, that’s going to get you very different results. But when you put an emphasis on let’s be proactive, let’s have conversations, let’s make this a learning that’s going to directly influence your injury rates.

So, if you’re if you’re an organization that’s looking to lower your injury rates, you know, take that that proactive and. Almost excited approach to it. I don’t I don’t quite know how to phrase that. I think she was she was happy about it. She was passionate about it and made it very clear to her employees that this was something she genuinely cared about for them. So that was my first learning. The second learning is that, you know, both of them in theory had this had the same management systems.

But the way that you use your management systems, those effective management system practices are crucial. As a leader, you need to be specific about your expectations of your management team and your supervisors. What exactly is it that you want them to do? We don’t want to just say reduce injury rates and follow safety requirements. We want to ask them how are you going to show up as a leader and prove that safety is important to your teams.

And with that, you know, how much time am I spending in my personal day? If safety is such a priority to me, how much time am I spending out in the field? So, we’ve got we’ve got these fabulous management systems out there, but they are only as good as the effort that you put into them and the clarity that you put into them.

I love it. And I think this this element that the tangibility of is showing up. Obviously, we’ve got to show up the right way. Like you said, I need to show active care and things of that nature and make such a difference. And yet this is a choice that day in and day out. I keep emphasizing with leaders and it’s probably the hardest thing to really get in is like show up consistently, own your safety own in terms of the expectations, make it real.

Show to other people that the safety matters to you, right?

Yes, absolutely. And you need to own it as much, if not more, than what you want your employees to own it. They are they’re only going to match what you are role modeling to them. IT leaders don’t understand that sometimes the influence that they have, they are the number one influencer on how their organization performs. And that doesn’t just include safety. That includes quality. That includes your operational performance, your finances. Everything falls under that.

I couldn’t agree more. Fantastic story, fantastic research, data points. You’ve shared the criticality of the role of the leader and can only ask everybody to really start thinking and having a personal reflection. We’re coming into the New Year. It’s time to the New Year’s resolution. This is the time to start thinking of my showing up the right way. Am I spending and misspending the amount of time that I need to spend showing that safety matters day in and day out? Or is it something I’m fluffing off to somebody else? I’m only doing the bare minimum. This was almost four times more time spent on safety, and I’m willing to bet that her performance overall was probably even better, not just from a safety standpoint, but across all the other metrics.

You know, I would be willing I don’t have the data in front of me, but I am willing to bet that you are probably right on that.

Brie, thank you so much for sharing a story. I think it’s a very, very powerful story. And thank you for all the good work that you’re doing to help organizations improve their culture, help leaders realize how they can make a difference. It’s you’re fighting a good fight. Thank you.

Well, thank you so much for having me. It was wonderful having this conversation.

Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-Suite radio. Leave a legacy, distinguish yourself from the pack, grow your success, capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Fuel your future. come back in two weeks for the next episode or listen to our sister show with the Ops guru, Eric Michrowski.

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ABOUT THE GUEST

Brie is an expert in Occupational Safety and Health, specializing in client safety culture assessments and transformation. She has many years of experience in the Aerospace industry, working for United Technologies Corporation and Lockheed Martin with roles ranging from direct front-line technical support to corporate headquarters program management. Her occupational safety technical experience includes risk assessment, root cause analysis, injury reduction project management, compliance audits, training and program development. Brie holds a B.S. in Occupational Safety and Health from the University of Connecticut and an MBA in Management from Indiana University.

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Diversity as an Accelerator for Safety Outcomes with Bryce Griffler

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Today, we are in conversation with Bryce Griffler who shares the impact of intentionally bringing diversity of perspectives and opinions into safety activities and teams. From union involvement, to people with diverse backgrounds and experiences including people that might come from a totally different part of the business, a well-rounded team is bound to find better and safer ways to do the work. These strategies consistently improve the quality of conversations and solutions, driving to safer outcomes. He shares easy strategies to make this happen in your business. This episode shares some very important ideas which are too often missed.

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Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-Suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized Ops and The Safety Guru public speaker and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now. Hi, and welcome to The Safety Guru. My name is Eric Michrowski, and today I’m very happy to have Bryce Griffler with me. Bryce is a seasoned health and safety leader who’s worked across multiple different industries, spoken at many different conferences, and has a very interesting themes he’s going to share with us today around involving labor, increasing the diversity of employment, of opinions and increasing diversity, inclusion and that link to safety. So, Bryce, welcome to the show. I’d like to have you maybe start out by sharing a little bit about how you got into safety and a little bit about your passion around it. Sure. Thanks. Thanks for having me, Eric. So, I very first started pursuing a formal education, actually in engineering before working for a government defense contractor. I was in contract and systems design and several engineering functions, and I’m glad I have that background. After several years in engineering, I began to transition into what’s called product safety, which tied very nicely into my formal training in human factors engineering. But I later came to find out that’s what really prepared me to be. The type of safety professional that I am today is this foundation and in private, through design, which is very much at the forefront of what industrial health and safety engineers, our health and safety professionals are looking at today. But I have the privilege to have that foundation earlier. And so, it was just happenstance. I was actually looking to leave my company when a position opened up in industrial, environmental, health and safety. I had no formal training, knew nothing about safety regulations. I didn’t hold an ocean 10-hour card. I ended up being a great fit, mostly just because of my engagement, my people skills. And I always admired what emergency responders did, the equipment they use, the processes they used. It was it was like choreography to me and finding ways to plan for things that can’t be planned for to the fullest extent. I think that’s what attracted me most to giving this whole safety thing a shot jumped over to the dark side. So that’s kind of why I do think a lot of professional’s kinds of fall into it in a very unique way. I would say if you look at the majority of professionals, a majority of them do not start at the age of nine, thinking one day I’m going to grow up and be a judge or a safety audit or something like that. So, like others have that unique story. And I’m glad I took the journey that I did to get here. That’s phenomenal. And I think one of the pieces that really struck me from our prior conversation and you touched on it is around the people skills, but it’s this element of the criticality of involving labor at the table in how do you make that happen. And this is something I think is so critical. I’ve seen it time and time again in terms of when you bring labor to the table; great things can happen because this is the best place to collaborate. So, can you share a little bit about some of your experience around it and in some ideas around how do you make that happen in organizations? Sure. I don’t really call myself a safety person. I really define myself as a people person, and I think that’s really important. You’ll see why as we continue to dove into this. I think one of the things the concepts that really captures this is, is that I can I can send you to a training class on NFPA. I can go get your OSHA 30-hour card. Those are things that we can teach you. And that’s great. And its critical knowledge to have what I can’t simply send you to a training on is how to engage the right people, how to go out of your way to find people who are going to help your organization get better. I can’t send you to a webinar on active listening and you are immediately good at types of skills and the skill of stepping outside your comfort zone to find different opinions and people with different backgrounds and values from you. And so, you’re right. I think one of the biggest pieces here then is engaging the labor representative, the operators. When we talk about people like these two main categories of people that we in industry have to get better at bringing to the table. The first one is, is that worker, the labor representative, the operator. And I think we do a good job about talking about this. We just don’t always put our money where our mouth is. But maybe it’s a safety infraction and investigation, or maybe it’s contract negotiations for a collective bargaining contract. But unfortunately, it’s too often tempting is in order to move things along quickly, we’ll just call safety’s blessing or that one guy who used to be he worked in OSHA, he’s read the book a lot, a call him and the plant manager. Let’s get out of process. Let’s fix it. And that’s fast. And some in some ways efficient, but without the person on the floor who does the task today, you’re missing a huge piece of information and they may not willingly come to you to offer that information. You really have to go out of your way to make sure they’re there. If you go to if you go to your manufacturing floor and you ask the supervisor in that area where’s our next injury going to happen, you probably won’t get a solid answer. Maybe you’ll get the or we’re not zero injuries here today. But if you earn the trust of your workforce and you approach a worker again, you have to have that trust with them. You approach them and you ask them what is the next century is going to happen. They’re going to be pretty close to being spot because they know, they understand and they know where that those risks are and think differently than you do just because they did not go to an OSHA 30 hour or sit in on that one and see webinar does not mean they don’t understand the hazards associated with their task, where they’re processing who. What an amazing person to make sure you’re bringing into that process for an investigation or something like that. I think that’s a phenomenal point. There’s a guess that I had on the show, Dr. Josh Williams. And one of the stories he shared was in one organization, he had asked everybody, where is an injury going to happen? And he put it put it on this cue card. And he said 70 percent of people had the exact same answer and they knew we need to go fix this theme, which had to do with scaffolding. And there was certain process that that wasn’t adequate. So, I love your point about connecting, understanding, hearing from people, but I agree with your point around building trust. Absolutely. And you get strange looks sometimes when you ask about where the next injury is going to happen. Sometimes the worker will tell you they won’t. And so, again, this is where it ties back into being more of a people person, which so many professionals are, and changing the question to something maybe more like, OK, what do you have any grandkids? OK, sure. To talk with them a little bit about. You know, if we were to hire your grandson as a welder here today, what’s the first thing you would tell him to make sure he does or does not do what he steps on this floor and all of it? The conversation changes. And so maybe the words like hazard and risk don’t mean much to them. But when you when you make it personal and they know their job inside out, that is just a wealth of knowledge and information that we might not be capturing when we’re trying to improve our processes. I completely agree and I love the way you position that, because that’s a really easy way to relate to people and people typically have an answer to that. That question, the scary one, is sometimes when I’ve asked leaders that same question, saying if you brought your loved one to work, what’s the first thing you would tell them about working here? And then I say, so. So, do you ask that you say the same to your team members and then they have this puzzle look and then I get scared? Absolutely. So maybe challenge those leaders as they walk around. Maybe they follow you as the safety professional. And if you are a leader yourself, follow around your safety professional and maybe try asking some of those questions. Challenge your senior leaders to ask some of those questions, have them observe you. They all of a sudden will have more questions that they’d like to ask. And that’s great. I like to see that. And of course, the follow up after that is key. Great point in a lot of what you’re sharing is really about getting diversity of opinions and getting more perspectives, can you share a little bit about that? Because I think that’s a lot of the richness about the conversations, we’ve had in terms of getting more perspectives at the table. And too often we tend to be in isolation. I see leaders in in safety, in operations, running, trying to run this from their office. But it’s really about getting perspectives. Can you share some thoughts around it and some of the successes you’ve had around it? Sure. That that D word diversity can be frightening and is sometimes a loaded word, and it certainly doesn’t have to be. And so, we talked about how that first category, that first group of people, and that is the labor representative, the worker, the operator. And again, on paper, we’re very good at making sure we involve the worker and participate, have them participate in assessments. So, and we’ve done we’ve talked about this before, but the other kind of overall category of people that I see is absolutely critical that we bring to this proverbial table are everyone but the usual suspects. Yes, the usual suspects may be the person who went to the same school. We have the same alma mater. We worked with them for 15 years. We worked with them at a previous company, or they’ve been in this tire industry for thirty-five years. Maybe someone who grew up down the street from you. Those folks are what I define as the usual suspects, and they are. Don’t get me wrong, they are absolutely critical. Their opinion and what they bring to the table is invaluable. And there’s another piece to that. So, when we bring the usual suspects, we bring those people, we bring the safety manager, the plant manager and the operator, that that’s a start. But where do we proactively step outside our comfort zone and seek those operators, those analysts, those employees who have opinions and backgrounds and values and cultures that differ from our own? And it’s not comfortable. I talked about the big bad, the word diversity, which is a loaded term, it does not at all trivialize or diminish the people who are like us or you. It’s just that the solutions that we get when you bring together a diverse team are simply astonishing. Absolutely. The cost savings, you see the reliability and of course, the engagement that you get from your greater workforce is one hundred percent worth that little bit of discomfort. And it’s OK to admit that it’s uncomfortable because it is right. It is human nature that we flock to people who are similar to us because diversity is not how we look. It’s not just gender or race. There’s more diversity of thought, culture, background. So, when we bring those right people to the table, I can tell you kind of three to two overall high-level benefits. One is reduced risk and reduced risk because these this team, this diverse team is able to focus higher on the hierarchy of controls. We’re able to do better at that with engineering, control, substitution and even eliminating that risk because we have that innovative team that’s thinking outside the box, whether the overall other overall high-level benefit there is a stronger bottom line. That’s probably a conversation for an entirely different podcast. But we have plenty of data and anecdotes to show to demonstrate that a strong safety culture and strong safety performance brings to higher profits and more revenue. And. And so finding those people going out of your way to finding the people who are who are either different from you or doesn’t have you different from the people that we normally bring to the table to produce those solutions. So maybe we never thought about calling that brand new electrician that we just hired to the investigation. Maybe it seems silly to request that a finance analyst join one for corrective action hire team meetings. But you don’t know what they may have come from, you don’t know that maybe one of them actually was an apprentice in a shop, one had a father who was an electrician for 30 years. One developed and built an entire dashboard infrastructure for his last Fortune 500 company. What amazing untapped talent are we not bringing to the table? I love your comment on this and a couple of things that come to mind. One is, really when you look at the most creative firm probably in the world, which is idea that’s come up with the mouse, that’s come up with a lot of key concepts. One of the things that’s really interesting when you go behind the scenes is they’re bringing people that have nothing in common to find solutions to problems they have. They’ll bring a doctor, a psychologist and neuro physics and people from all over the world put them together and say, solve this problem for me, which is essentially kind of where you’re doing. And they’ve come up with incredibly creative ideas because everybody’s looking at things from a from a different vantage point. My biggest frustration is and actually I was talking to somebody on that exact topic yesterday, is I see so many leaders talk about diversity, but I see so little in terms of real action and real results in terms of how you make that happen. A few people talking about it in the safety space, which is, I think one of the areas that really attracted me to having this conversation is I think it’s another top topic in the safety in the safety world, really looking at things from a broader perspective. Can you share some ideas as to how you’ve been able to operationalize that, how you’ve been able to bring more diversity to the table in real, tangible ways to improve safety? Sure. Diversity is one thing and we do talk about it a lot. You’re right. And so, kind of the next piece to that is the inclusion of diversity in our two different terms. And the way I like to describe you’ll hear others describe it in this way as well, is diversity is going to the homecoming dance where been is being invited to go to the homecoming dance. So, if I go into a boardroom and I see people all with different 10 years with the company, all with different backgrounds, maybe different genders and different races, that’s lovely. But if it’s the three people who have worked at the company for 30 years and they all are from the same area and those are the ones at the table and those are the ones talking, they don’t really get to take credit for having a diverse team. And so, step one is, is you talk about leaders talking about it, certainly want to make sure you have their Buy-In. Plenty of data. Catalyst has done a ton and shares a ton of studies around diversity, inclusion and productivity. A lot about having a diverse board and what that means or for revenue. One thing that they shared is when companies establish inclusive business cultures and policies, they’re more likely to report an over a fifty nine percent increase in creativity, innovation and openness make thirty eight percent better assessment of consumer interest and demand. So, wow, talk about getting senior leadership by in as to why diversity is important and then using that, harnessing that to leverage an improvement in safety, which really has that public facing optics behind it is critical. So, once you have that leadership mean, there’s a couple of ways that we can make sure that we’re doing right. If I’m interviewing for a new safety specialist or maybe as a professional, I’m asked to sit in on the interview for a new plant manager or an operations manager. There’s a great time to make sure that we are really leveraging a diverse talent pool. When you’re interviewing when you’re reviewing a resume. Are you subconsciously kind of leaning towards the person who has the same alma mater or the person who comes from the same industry as you? We do that again. It’s very natural that we do it. Then during the interview process, are we making some judgment calls about perhaps how their dress made from the physical background? Right. And the sun calls, are we or you passing some judgments there or are we actually doing our very best to compare apples to apples, asking similar questions where we can actually behaviorally questions and then seeing if we can find the person that maybe has never worked in our industry before. But they sound like a great people person. They sound like they’re extremely knowledgeable and have great critical thinking skills and. The bullying can think on their feet and so definitely step that hiring process is an excellent opportunity to increase diversity, inclusion within safety. If you hire that safety specialist who has only ever focused on OSHA regulations and that’s all the certifications you want, maybe you want to kind of broaden their search a little bit. I think the interview process is an excellent opportunity for sure. And I think the element I would add is also really reflecting on other unintended and you’ve touched on it, but are there unintended biases that are in this election process? Right. So, there was this this famous study that was done in a symphony where they were always getting men through the selection process and then they put a screen. You could only listen to the music. And suddenly, that shifted dramatically in terms of their hiring practices and the diversity that came in. So, are there some unintended consequences even in some of the screening questions that we’re asking or like you talked about in terms of your prior experience, that that maybe limits how much how much diversity you were getting at the table? Absolutely. No, you are one hundred percent. Right. Some organizations have taken to removing names from resumes. And because we do pass judgment on that and then I have seen organizations as well who require a diverse interview panel that is a global grade nine, a global grade 11. I would like a female. I would like a male. And I would like somebody who is a director in a completely different culture. And that definitely helps. Certainly, when I’m interviewing, I request somebody from H.R., I request somebody inside my function, somebody from outside my function, just whatever I can do to try and squash that bias because it happens. You’re one hundred percent right, Eric? And it’s not something it is not something we have to feel guilty about. It is a natural reaction. We’re just trying to acknowledge that wherever we can acknowledge that bias, which is going to be there, we all have that unconscious bias and kind of circumvented or overcome it to make sure we’re getting that top candidate. So, I think the hiring process, whether it’s for safety professionals or for operations professionals, is an excellent opportunity to seek those individuals who will bring that diverse perspective to. And we all have a diverse perspective. Right. That’s the concept of diversity. I think the other hot spot that we can look at and make sure that we’re increasing diversity, inclusion within safety is just pause and take a moment and look around during your investigations, during your risk assessments, during your business reviews. Who is physically at the table, perhaps prior to covid, who’s sitting against the wall, who maybe have the opportunity to speak but elected not to? You would be shocked at the number of people who have some outrageously beneficial effect to share, who for one reason or another do not. And so, there’s two anecdotes that that come to mind. The first one is that a previous organization, we made it a point when we’re developing corrective actions to bring facilities engineering in the early on, don’t develop the crash and then go to facilities, engineer and bring them in early on and help them help them help us. And one particular individual from an entirely different industry brought forward a completely different approach. Whereas we were looking at which I will admit we were looking purely at administrative controls can we do to change the process and we have to hold employees accountable. What can we do? And finally spoke up and said, you know, there’s a technology that does this and we all just kind of looked at each other. He said the manufacturer makes it like, holy cow. How could we miss something like that? We have combined years’ experience in the room. You know, who knows how much. And here this new guy has been for under a year, like, you know, we could stop. And so that’s certainly confirmed that our approach was bringing in. Were you whereas you wouldn’t think to necessarily bring in a facility engineering resource that early into your actual development? Wow. So, it was eternally grateful for that. The other and perhaps more recent and relevant one is around covid. And we all had to be extremely innovative as this pandemic transpired. And so, one particular individual is actually the operations director. We’re sitting here just coming up with these outrageously complex solutions, right? He’s a quiet guy. You know, he’s listening. He doesn’t have his phone. He doesn’t have his computer open. You know, he’s listening, but he’s quiet. And so, we’ll have this back and forth in the room and we have the sightly, what about this and how about this distribution? How do we get the distribution of masks with the different? And he said, well, why can’t we just use this as a kiosk? And we all just kind of look at each other and it was this moment of. How did we miss such a simple solution right now and maybe we’re all tired, we’re all tired, but oh my gosh? And I tell you what, this particular this director, time and time again, just kind of wait for that small lull in your conversation or just drops a bombshell and you just look around like, wow. And so, I, I will tell you, that is the kind of person when you talk about increasing diversity, inclusion, I every opportunity I have is one of the first people I call to get to join my tiger team to join an investigation, because I know almost every time you bring a different perspective to the table. Love it, and I think you’ve shared such a critical message and unfortunately, we don’t hear this enough, but really tangible kind of ideas and perspective, it’s really about getting more perspectives, more eyes, more lenses at the table and making people feel welcome included both in terms of who you’re bringing on your team, but also who you’re bringing in to solve different problems. I think this is such a critical component. And as I said before, my frustration is the amount of talk in the lack of action and tangible results in it. And it sounds like you’ve driven the action, and you’ve seen the results from it, which I think is phenomenal. And I can only implore others to do the same to experience because I would agree with you that is so critical and to get the last layer of improvement. So, thank you so much for coming to share your ideas, your insights and some of the results you’ve had, frankly, by bringing that diversity, that inclusion to your teams. Any closing parting thoughts you’d like to share? This is a lot. Again, there’s so much data out there, but it starts with just these small steps. It starts with looking around the room. It starts with when you go to kick off the investigation, you look around those who are gathered around the incident location just to make sure it’s those small things. This is not going to change overnight or you demonstrated the more others around you will emulate it. And it’s just those small things that end up kind of snowballing and making a huge difference. I would agree. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this and wishing you continued success and in the impact, you’re having around safety, but also in sharing this message, which is so critical. Absolutely. Thanks so much for having me here. Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-Suite radio. Leave a legacy, distinguish yourself from the pack, grow your success, capture the hearts and minds of your team. Fuel your future. come back in two weeks for the next episode or listen to our sister show with the Ops guru, Eric Michrowski.

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Bryce Griffler, CSP, M.Eng. is an Environmental, Health, & Safety Professional and Thought Leader with a background in heavy manufacturing and warehousing. Bryce considers himself a “recovering engineer” after serving in engineering roles for 6 years. He prides himself in his ongoing advocacy for stronger inclusionary practices within organizations, helping to improve the bottom line, employee engagement, and even safety performance and culture.

Bryce gains additional practical work experience through teaching American Red Cross and National Safety Council Lifeguarding, CPR/AED, First Aid, and first Responder Courses. He also serves as the Membership, Awards & Honors, and Nominations & Elections Chair(s) of the American Society of Safety Professionals (ASSP) Emerging Professionals Common Interest Group (CIG). Bryce loves cruise vacations, and has a love-hate relationship with running. Bryce holds a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia and a Master of Engineering in Advanced Safety Engineering & Management from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

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Making Safety Personal: Connecting with the Front-Line with Chris Yerikian

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This week we are in conversation with Chris Yerikian who shares some experiences in making safety more personal to connect with front line team members on a more emotional level to increase safety involvement and participation. From front line leaders and team members sharing their personal ‘why’ for staying safe to turning into habits and reinforcing the theme on an ongoing basis to deliver safety outcomes, Chris shares his successes.

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Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-Suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized Ops and The Safety Guru public speaker and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now. Hi and welcome to The Safety Guru. My name is Eric Michrowski, your host. And today, I’m very excited to have with me Chris Yerikian. He’s from Southern California. We’ve been in health and safety for well over five years, speaks at a conference, always be speaking at a conference very soon on the topic he’s going to presenting as well today to us. So, Chris, welcome to the show. You’ve had a background in health and safety, and before that, you were in the movie industry now mostly in the food distribution space. So, I’d love to hear a little bit about how you got from movies to safety and how you got your passion for the safety space. Eric, super happy to be here. Thank you. So, I worked in the movie theater industry. I actually started doing that in high school and kind of moved up the ladder a little bit within the independent theater space and Sokal. Yeah. And I started doing that managing. And then I was actually majoring in philosophy pre-law. And I wanted to become a lawyer. But I met somebody I met someone who actually was an industrial hygienist. And I was going to the same university he had gone to. And he showed me the program he had taken, told me the kind of work he does, the different companies he’s work for, and just the intricacy of the industry. And I looked more into it, and I was like, you know what this is? This is great. I didn’t even know this industry or this type of profession existed. So, I changed majors, and yep, took a little longer to graduate, but it ended up working out, and that’s how I ended up in safety. And that’s amazing. And we’ve talked about before, one of the realizations that you had is really the importance of focusing on motivation for safety. Tell me a little bit more about kind of where we’re that kind of realization came and some of your thoughts around it. So, I did notice early on when I got into the industry that it was and rightfully so, it was heavily focused on a scientific approach and metrics and trying to follow regulation to the T. And that works great for a lot of life safety. But it’s not that great when it comes to stuff like behavior and more subjective injuries that take place in the workplace. And I had one incident where I was following up with an employee who had a relatively severe back injury, but nothing too major. And when I was speaking with him, he told me that he couldn’t pick up his newborn baby as a result of an injury because it hurt too much. And I got to thinking. That is a powerful motivator, but most people don’t really have that realization before something happens, right. So, I got to thinking how effective would it be to have them tap into that emotion and into a motivator at that level to alter their behavior, to prevent injuries and develop habits that prevent injuries beforehand? Right. Absolutely. Because at the end of the day, a precursor to the behavior that you’re going to exhibit that’s going to keep you safe or unsafe is going to be your attitudes. You believe your mindset around safety and safety, something that it’s a rule that otherwise I’ll get into trouble, or is it something that keeps me away from harm or is it something that’s investment in the future? And to the things that I want to experience with the people that matter to me and so forth. So, you really focusing on that kind of precursor is going to have a significant impact? Couldn’t agree more. And so, tell me a little bit more in terms of how you’ve leveraged this. Right. So that was a great story, a great example. Kind of tapped into something this person could do. Tell me a little bit about what were you able how are you able to leverage that? So initially, what I started to do is get face time with a lot of employees within the workplace, just anything it starts out simple, making sure to talk to them, how their weekend is going, how their family. And then you develop a rapport and you’re like you’re like you mentioned, just following the rules, even with that approach isn’t going to cut it. So, they have to really tap into their why. And one tool in that space is the way I work. Safe border display. So, I. Implemented this tool, and for those that don’t know the way I work, safe display is you essentially are getting employees to think about why it is that they decide to work safe at work. Because at a fundamental level, if you think about why people go to work, it’s essentially to make a living, to have the means to do the things you love with the people and you love to do them with. So why WorkSafe really tries to incorporate that personal element into the workplace so they would bring photos or videos of whatever their ways. For example, for me, I love to do Spartan races, OK? And if I end up getting injured at work, that’s going to prevent me from doing that thing that I love to do outside of work. So, I better stay in one piece. For most people, it’s going to be their family is their motivation. Right? So, they’ll bring photos of their family, their kids, their friends. Some people love to travel, and if they’re injured or hurt as a result of their work, then they can’t travel. They can’t go to Disney World and Disneyland, and they can’t do their recreational activities. So that was really the premise behind it. Interesting. And can you share maybe a little bit about some of the stories and some of the successes around the way I worked, because definitely you view this quite a bit. I think it’s very powerful use as well, even in terms of video messaging campaign to really reinforce those themes of why am I doing this, really trying to shift it from it’s a rule to it’s an investment to really what matters to me. Tell me a little bit about some of the stories, some of the successes you’ve had within the organization around this. So initially, I was a little nervous, that man, what if they don’t want to participate and people don’t want to share their photos and be put on display, but I was shocked how eager everyone was to participate at the beginning. I think, for the most part, people like attention to a certain degree. So, or even recognition. Right. Seeing their picture and seeing their families pictures up, it’s an inspirational thing to look at. So that was the first piece. The engagement and then wanting to participate was huge. And at a relatively quick time, I started noticing the activities, started to build up the real activities that yield results at work. Right. All of a sudden, we had more hazard reporting going on. People were mentioning issues and pointing out things that could potentially be problems at work that they were they weren’t before. We noticed that when we were doing observations on certain work methods in the workplace and to see if they were following proper behaviors, that we saw a huge uptick in them wanting to do it the right way and not just because their manager or supervisor was there watching them do it, for example. Interesting. And did you have to draw the linkages between, say, why WorkSafe and some of the behaviors we want to see, like the observations, like in terms of the safety participation, in terms of team members volunteering hazards and trying to find ways to improve the workplace safety? Or do that happen naturally? While we when we first implemented, we didn’t really know what the reaction was going to be or what kind of results we were going to get, so ultimately, it did happen naturally. And then, as time went on, we did try to link, and it depends what industry you’re in. Right. One sort of behavior in one industry is not relevant in another. So, we did really try and focus on that. But it was really there. The effect it really had was just their motivation and the emotional connection they had with personal life being affected by whatever activities they did at work. And that motivation is what ultimately helped them drive the behavior instead of kind of forcing them to have a repetition-based building of a habit. It was the personal choice they made to want to build this habit, which is way more powerful in my opinion. And we did some to a decline. Yeah, we saw a decline in OSHA recordable incident rate over the course of 19 months. We cut it by half. That’s phenomenal. And how did you keep reinforcing those boards? Because what I’ve seen in some organizations is they go and they lost something they created and then it doesn’t get turned into a habit where we revisit everything and eventually you start forgetting about that link. So how have you brought those boards? So, they become part of daily life within the organization. So, we put them up on a display where it’s mostly visual or it’s mostly visible and so everybody would see it. It was we put it on a digital display so it would roll on a slide show. And what we did is once a quarter, every three months, we would go back to all those folks that had posted a picture or a video, and we asked them if they had anything new, if they want to refresh it. And then we would also go to different departments and do one specific to them as well. And a lot of folks they’re really excited to swap up their photos and show something new. It’s kind of like having an Instagram at work, and everybody is excited to show you how to show their photos and what new activities they’ve been doing. So, we also gave out rewards for anybody who participated above and beyond. You know, they would get a company hat or a sweater or something like that, which was just a little something extra to drive participation. That’s excellent. And other organizations I’ve seen where it becomes a Yagmur type field like you mentioned, the Instagram type approach, but where people are constantly kind of sending refreshers of almost activity activities is what I did this this weekend with my family. And that’s why I stay safe. So, it becomes almost a daily ritual or even embedded into Stanishev meetings. In terms of a reminder refresher, let’s talk about a couple of the people, the wise I say safe and in daily refreshers or in one case, one organization. I know even they are creating movies of the evolution of their life as they saw this the other day where somebody had done a storyboard essentially starting from when they first got married to then they had kids and how it evolved and now they have grandkids. Essentially the evolution as they stayed within the organization of their why they say safe. And they were super proud about it, which I thought was phenomenal. Wow, that’s awesome. Yeah, that sounds amazing. I probably might start doing that myself. Here we go. Because you got a 30-year employee where they started with 20, 30 years ago is actually cool because it was really showing how their Wii is becoming more important as there, they’ve gained more seniority within the organization. They’ve got a lot more ways for safety, which is a really cool story they even had in this particular movie they had had. And this is a not a movie theater is somebody who just decided this is what I’m going to do in my spare time. He even had, I think it was his daughter, granddaughter sing a theme song that kind of linked the whole thing throughout, which is like to me it’s above and beyond. Like there’s a theme song that’s been created and sung by one of the personal, really important people in their lives that they got tucked in. So that’s like a phenomenal way to go all the way. And I think, yeah, that’s awesome. They get it. That’s great. They absolutely get it. Obviously, that was a try. Number one, that was probably after a few times were different people doing that. It became almost a competition. So, tell me a little bit about how you were able to get buy-in from leaders and also front workers, because that’s that sometimes in some organizations that can be a shift to start saying, OK, we’re going from a real base of enforcement approach to starting to think about more the Y, the Q, the elements of what really matters. How are you being able to convince leaders may be first and then how you got frontline team members is selling the frontline team members. That was a pretty easy participation piece, but I love to hear your thoughts and put all that. So, actually I approached the leaders with the exact same wire work, say first. So, the leaders in the organization actually were the first ones to participate. And we could again; I wasn’t sure if the frontline workers were going to want to participate. And I thought having leaders do it first would be motivation enough. And the same thing, the leaders, they did not object to it at all. They were all in from the get-go. They brought their photos. And when you’re having those conversations, it’s the same kind of conversations you have with the leaders as you would with the front-line associates. Right. And you say is just like, you know, leaders feel that they are more attuned to being safe at work than a front-line associate might be just because they’re in a leadership role and they want to be a role model. But they think of it, again from the perspective of work that they have to set the example. But having that approach, that this is still tied to our personal lives, there’s an emotional connection here. And we come to work, and we do what we do to have the means to enjoy life outside of here. And safety is a foundational component of that. So, bringing that to the leaders really makes sense to them. And then it’ll funnel down to the front-line associates because with any program you do or the leadership; the leadership should definitely be participating in the program first before you even present it to front-line associates. Yeah, I think it certainly reinforces it matters. I think we’re where I’ve certainly seen maybe even leaders go above and beyond and have had conversations with them is really even getting them to start thinking about their wife for safety. So just why I stay safe, but why safety actually matters to me. And I know I’ve had a lot of success. He was just having conversations with leaders around it, helping them craft their story, their narrative, and what does it really matter to them? And because I’ve never seen a great safety leader that didn’t have a very strong conviction, a certain strong why it has to be something that’s personal. And I’ve had some amazing stories around the years and I’d say shared with teams. Right. Because then you’re saying I want you to do more. So, this is why I stay safe. But why safety really matters to them is even the next evolution. So, then you’re saying, I want you as well to do this. And I’ve heard stories around servant leadership, around people who were saying my stories about their dad and how their dad was a servant leader and then how they inspire them. And they were like really full of emotion, like almost a Hollywood story. But it was a real story to people that had suffered their loss in a work environment. And they never promised on my shift were on my watch. And it just ties into this is why I stay safe. This is why you stay safe. And this is why I’m asking you to make that extra effort for it, because it also matters to me. Exactly, yup, and, you know, leaders that they can get caught up in the KPIs of the company, right? Their numbers, whether it’s sales or operational efficiency, they will always see safety as kind of an impediment to achieving those KPI numbers. But if you take that, let’s call it the EU approach. If you use your IQ and engage leaders in that way, just like you mentioned, the KPIs, as a result, they’ll just follow it. Just it happens as a result. Exactly. I couldn’t agree more. And I think it just has to be consistent as people see the leaders show up in that particular way. Team members are flexing actually safety something for me; I’m not doing it for somebody else. I’m doing it for myself and for the things that matter to me. I think the only weird one I’ve ever had is I had one person when I say, what do you say, safe? And they came up with a picture of a refrigerator. I’m like, I’m not sure you want to tell that to your wife. You care for more than your wife. I have somebody. Coxon Sorry about that. Yeah, somebody. I had brought me a photo of footage they had taken with their drone. And I was like, hey, that’s if that’s your motivation. If you want to be able to fly or drones, it works for me. If it does, it’s whatever is your passion and you love that. That’s really what really matters. He ended up telling me afterwards that the reason why the refrigerator was his picture is because and I don’t know if this was a cop out answer afterwards is because the refrigerator was why he was working to feed his family and yadda. So that was the symbolic element of it. I’m like, OK, I think it’s probably better if you had a picture of your wife and your kids versus a refrigerator, but I’ll leave that to you to decide if he was; he was trying to be artsy with it, I guess. I guess they were perfect. Well, really appreciate you sharing your story, your examples, any other kind of closing thoughts you embraced. It sounds like get some pretty phenomenal successes by tapping into there. Why any other kind of thoughts or somebody who is thinking about doing something like this, making safety more personal within their teams? Yeah, I mean, it kind of goes without saying, you know, this is no substitute for doing the boots on the ground work, right. And you still have to have comprehensive training, good investigation processes, a good orientation, corrective actions. So, you do all that. But what this helps is with the engagement piece and getting leaders and front-line associates to participate in that process, because, you know, we can sometimes feel like we’re on an island, especially if you’re part of a smaller organization. So having buy in from everybody and using this approach to get that engagement will really help drive those boots on the ground initiative that really yields those daily results that we are looking for. Great. Well, Chris, thank you very much for joining me today for presenting this concept to on the show, phenomenal idea. Thank you for sharing this and conferences to spark ideas and other organizations. I definitely hope other organizations start thinking about personalizing safety to the workers, the team members, because that’s really what’s going to drive the motivations around safety. Yep, for sure. Thank you so much, Eric. Thanks for having me. This was super fun, and I really appreciate you actually doing this podcast and bringing more awareness and education to the field. Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-Suite radio. Leave a legacy, distinguish yourself from the pack, grow your success, capture the hearts and minds of your team—fuel your future. Come back in two weeks for the next episode or listen to our sister show with the Ops guru, Eric Michrowski.

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ABOUT THE GUEST

Chris has been in the EHS field since 2016 and received his undergrad from Cal State Northridge in Environmental and Occupational Health. Prior to EHS, he managed movie theaters for an independent chain in Southern California. After transitioning to EHS, he worked in the aerospace and food distribution industry. He is currently working to gain ground on using emotions and EQ to establish an engagement-based approach to behavior-based safety. 

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Mental Health & Suicide Prevention in Construction with Kathleen Dobson

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In recognition of World Mental Health Day, we are in conversation with Kathleen Dobson, Safety Director at Alberici. She shares some critical insights on Mental Health Awareness and Suicide Prevention in Construction. The learnings relate to so many industries. Gather some insights, reflect on how you can apply these to improve the safety of your workplace and make a difference!

Read about Mental Health: https://www.propulo.com/blog/category/safety/mental-health/ 

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Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams; their origin story puts the safety and well-being of their people first. Great companies ubiquitously have safe, yet productive operations. For those companies, safety is an investment, not a cost for the C-Suite. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is The Safety Guru with your host Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized Ops and The Safety Guru public speaker and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now. Hi and welcome to The Safety Guru. My name is Eric Michrowski and today I’m very excited to have with me Kathleen Dobson, who’s the safety director with Alberich. She’s here to talk to us a little bit about suicide prevention and awareness in the construction industry. Kathleen, welcome to the show. Really happy to have you part of the conversations. Oh, thank you so much, Eric. It’s my pleasure to be here. Kathleen, to start out, if you can share a little bit about your journey and how you got into safety and really, you’re passionate about the topic we’re going to talk about today on suicide prevention. Absolutely. Thanks. I started out as a hospital based registered nurse, and after about 15 years in the hospital, I ended up working for a manufacturer as their occupational health and safety nurse. And some of the roles that the nurse had were not very traditional. For example, I was responsible for managing confined spaces and I was responsible for conducting aerial lift training and for truck training, things that I really didn’t have experience in. And so, I. Educated myself, got some training, and as I was is that was developing my training programs, I was asked to participate in safety audits again, something that I wasn’t really familiar with, but I really enjoyed. And when that position ended, because, you know, the company downsized and so on, I found myself with several different experiences, hospital-based nursing, manufacturing, a little bit of safety, a little bit of training. And I was fortunate enough to find a job with Albury’s constructors who recognized that I understood behavior-based safety and some components of construction. So that’s kind of how we got to where I’m at now, you know, back 20 years ago and really my passion for suicide prevention. I’ve had several friends and relatives who have committed suicide. One was a registered nurse, colleague of mine. She was probably one of the first people that I knew that had taken her own life. My husband’s cousin, my own cousin. And so, there’s I think it’s it shows that almost anybody can be affected by suicide. And about five years ago, I heard a presentation from a group called the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention. And I said, wow, that sounds great. And I and I found that one of the organizations that I belong to, network, which is the National Association of Women in Construction, as well as Tom, as well as talk, the Association of Women and Constructors were both involved pretty heavily in this in this process. And when I went to network to ask them how active and how involved we were, they said not very they were lending their name more than anything else. And I said, well, we need to do more because this is a real crisis in the industry. People are dying every single day, much more so much more so than falls in electrocution and being struck by vehicles on the highway. But we never we don’t talk about it and we don’t recognize it. So, both talk and network have put together position statements. And since they’ve been doing that, I’ve been advocating for mental health awareness and suicide prevention. That’s phenomenal. Can you share maybe a little bit about why it’s so important in the construction industry, some of the elements that make it perhaps more prone to suicide and the risk associated with it? Oh, sure. Well, in construction for many, many years is really an institution with a pretty narrow view of who belongs. So, gender, race, religion and ethnicity are all concerns. And if you were in the building, trades in your family were not part of the generations of workers. You’re really an outsider until it’s proven otherwise and. So, people who are outsiders, obviously are not included in in the day-to-day companionship, relationship, the camaraderie, the community that the construction industry offers, and if they have issues and honestly, there’s probably 40 or 50 percent of people in the United States who at one time or another have some sort of a diagnosable mental illness, whether it’s, you know, I mean, it could be depression that that’s temporary or could be depression. That’s long term and overwhelming. But the construction industry has been having been made up of very stoic men mostly. And the industry is recognized for high hazards and taking risks and being the tough guys. If you’re injured, you just kind of suck it up and you go on with your business and. So those are just some of the reasons why construction gets impacted, because we don’t, we don’t share our feelings. We are we are taught really to not. Suffer, you suffer in silence and that and that just the overall attitude, nothing can happen to me and. We’ve got this this real sort of macho image, right, about the about the industry, these are traits that are that are in quite a few other industries as well. There’s no doubt that. But all of this also has an impact in terms of overall health and safety, because if I’m not well, in some way, shape or form, I’m not going to show up with potential on the job. And other things can also happen, which can impact myself and also my peers. Can you could you show me maybe a little bit more about why businesses need to do more? I often have heard in the past, which I think is completely wrong, that business shouldn’t start dealing with mental health themes and issues. Tell me more about how you remove the stigma and why it’s so critical for businesses to drive change around suicide and suicide prevention. Well, I think I think you use you mentioned a word that I don’t like using, and that is stigma because stigma places the places a negative impact on the individual. If you’re stigmatized, you are often negatively looked at in you with your group. And we really should not we really shouldn’t put blame on people because they are depressed or they’re in pain or are there or they may have another issue that that has caused them to suffer with their mental health. Right. And I think it’s and I think it’s important that we talk about it. You know, another situation that has happened in the industry is that we’ve brought on board and recruited many, many, many people who have transitioned out of the armed services. And a lot of those individuals, especially if they have seen action in in a war zone or some sort of a conflict, they suffer from post-traumatic stress. And so, the triggers on the job site, loud noises, shouting, can trigger a stress reaction. If we talk about it, if we talk about it, it becomes very commonplace. And I can’t I can’t take credit for this. But one of my colleagues said if we can talk about prostate problems and psoriasis. We can talk about mental health and suicide prevention. And I think that I think that, you know, as we see from years ago, no one ever said the word cancer. And because there was that that that view that, oh, you know, there was something bad about that. And so. Once we started to recognize there’s nothing bad about it, we can help people who have cancer, we can we can help them transition through the different phases of the illness, even if it is deadly to them. They need they need our support. They don’t need to be isolated and ostracized. And I think that our ethic, our individuals who are having mental health crises should also be treated the same way. They should not be isolated; they should not be ostracized. And it takes an individual who has a keen eye and ear for listening to their fellow workers and cheering, hearing them talk about situations, their families, what’s going on in their lives, and as well as, you know, that sort of inflection that they’re hearing, how they’re doing their work. And if we can educate our first line or front-line supervisors to make them more aware of what to look for, patterns to look for, if people are kind of going down that that path towards suicide, I think we’re going to save a lot of lives. I think that’s so important. It’s part of the work environment is a huge part of each person’s life. And the more people are aware of signs, the more they’re prepared to address these issues, have conversations, the more positive impact we can have overall. So, I think this is incredibly important what you’re doing in that space and really trying to create more awareness around it for businesses. So, on that topic, what can businesses do to drive real impact around this? Well, you know, we talk about having employee assistance programs, and I think that they’re great. However, most employee assistance programs are designed to assist people in a in a traditional work setting, in an office setting, I believe. I don’t think they’re often equipped to manage field workers because they don’t understand what the field workers going through. They don’t understand the aches and pains that they have at the end of every single day. And how those aches and pains then can transition into another trigger, which is overuse of prescription medications and an addiction to those prescription medications. So, I think that having an employee assistance program is great. I think that the people involved with employee assistance programs need to get out onto job sites to see how workers are and how the work is done, because nobody’s going to call in employee assistance program if they don’t trust that that their conversations are kept confidential and that and that there’s no way for it to get back to the human resource department. Because are they going to put a little checkmark beside my name or a little asterisk when it says Kathy made a phone call to the AP and she’s known she’s concerned with her finances or she’s concerned with her marital status or she’s concerned about the addiction that she has. So having an AP program, I think getting families involved just by sending home material, it doesn’t have to be really focused. It can just say something like, are you OK? And if you have if you have a problem, here’s a number to call or here’s a person to talk to. Right. I’ve seen I’ve seen job fairs or, you know, where people bring in their families to celebrate a project. And there’s some vendors there, you know, they have some gateway is they have some games for children. And occasionally you’ll see a table set up, nobody behind the table, just pamphlets and information about substance abuse and alcohol abuse and mental health awareness and suicide prevention. Those tables get cleared out all the all the information gets taken and it can be a family member or it gets taken by the individuals themselves because they don’t have to directly say anything to anybody. Again, having a supervisor trained and aware so that they can. Be what we call a gatekeeper from the field to from the field to a to a helping environment to that to the suicide lifeline. No, to just say, hey, how are you doing? And can and continue to probe. Because when somebody when somebody typically ask you how you’re doing. Oh, yeah, I’m OK. But if that person says, you know what, you just don’t seem like yourself, you seem as though you’ve got something weighing on your shoulders. Do you want to talk about it? And sometimes that it gives people the opportunity to open up at that point. That’s really important. And I know when we’ve talked about on the up side before, there’s some organizations I’ve seen where the EP has gone to the next level, where they also have peers that are part of the organization that that were previously front-line workers are still front-line workers who take part in this. So that that seems to address your point around people that understand the work environment. So, with some skills around it, I think the theme of the supervisor awareness and understanding is so critical because that’s a person that’s going to interact the most with a team member that and they have a chance to check in. And on Australia, they had an annual campaign that’s are you OK? And it’s really around helping broach the topic, the conversation and speaking about it in all organizations on a regular basis around the importance of mental health, mental wellbeing, but also in terms of suicide prevention. We agree. And I think that by asking somebody, do you feel suicidal? They’re not going to go out and commit suicide. They’re going to recognize that as a as is a helpline that they could utilize. One thing I wanted was the one thing that I wanted to point out about having front line supervisors, being those individuals who can really make a difference. I read I read an article over the weekend, a gentleman by the name of Calvin Byers. He is he’s really a thought leader. He’s really been on the forefront of addressing suicide prevention in the construction industry and mental health awareness. He said, you know, nowadays we have to focus in on people’s eyes because we can’t see we can’t see expression any other way. And sometimes you can see in people’s eyes the sadness that’s there when they when they are suffering with an issue. Wow. That’s really, really important point. And I think in terms of really connecting with that, that means you’ve got to be comfortable making that eye contact, having a conversation, be looking for potentially signs of challenges that may be happening. Exactly, and, you know, as I said, our supervisors are not always they’re not always the most. People, persons on the job site, you know, a lot of times they are right there, the people there to get things done, they’re not the people that are on site to kind of. Coach and guy, you know, give the old hugs and tell them that people are doing you’re doing OK. Exactly. And I know just a couple of days ago, there was World Mental Health Awareness Day, and there was it was looking into it just before our conversation. And I found a staggering statistic from the CDC that just talks about the relevance, importance of this. They said that this was done just over the summer and said one in 10 Americans had considered suicide the previous month, about twice as many as in twenty eighteen. So, the problem, obviously, was with social distancing and the pandemic likely pointing to this increase. But the other element is young adults, eight to twenty-four. The proportionate proportion was astonishing. It was one in four. So just really such a critical theme now and in construction, but in so many other industries are really in the space of health and safety. Yeah, and, you know, you talk about the one in 10 and how that number is really increased, I think that, you know, because we have been so isolated and in in our own homes and away from our community and our and in our people that have always given us comfort. You know, if you if you had problems at home before, they’re probably not going to be any better because you’re there all the time. Exactly. And, you know, when you when you address the children that No. One in four. That’s really that’s frightening. And it I think that that really looks at the issues that surround the culture that the children are in, the intimidation, the harassment, the bullying that that that child get. That’s really that really becomes a psychological that really has a psychological impact on them. You know, as an adult, sometimes we can deal with that. But when you’re a child, you have no idea how to how to deal with somebody who is always putting you down because of your height, your weight, your inability to do sports because you’re a nerd, whatever the case may be. I mean, there are there are hundreds of different reasons why children are ostracized or picked upon and children don’t know how to deal with it. That be really well, to the next mix theme I’d love to explore with you is really what can you do about this? So, you’ve talked about what organizations can do, but what can an individual who listens to this, who has awareness, has what is it that you can do to make a difference in ultimately people’s lives? One of the first things that I would that I would recommend is for people to download the Lifelines for suicide prevention on their phones and in and in there, and then they’re messaging. You know, so that if you come across somebody, you can readily say, hey, do we need to call this number or do you need some assistance with just finding some support? And if we advocate and if we can advocate for people. I think that’s really, really important, you know, the suicide lifeline number, by the way, is 800. Two, seven, three. Eight to five, five. And the and the lifeline number is seven four one seven four one phenomenal resources to have it at your fingertips. If ever you come in, come into a situation where you’ve got to have a conversation, do something about it. So, thank you for sharing that. And any other suggestions for people in terms of a difference they can make, either in terms of if you know somebody that that might be contemplating or you’re not sure how to approach the conversation or even if you want your organization that your part of this are really embracing that something needs to happen. I think I think really just opening up the conversation is the first real key step in all of that. And just being able to ask that first question, are you OK? All right. There’s many, many, many ways that an individual can help and support. But, you know, just by being an advocate, if you’re on the job site, find, find and download some posters, some suicide prevention, some suicide prevention posters. Ask your company to offer workplace mental health screenings. Get the AP involved or community mental health professionals in so that they understand and know the workplace and the culture of the company, and I think it’s important also for us to recognize that if somebody has a mental health issue when they come back to work. Neither they nor their problems should be ignored. You should be able to talk to them and say, hey, welcome back, we’re glad to have you back. But if you if you continue to have an issue, I’m here to help you. You know, thanks for trusting in me. I’m on your side. That’s really important. And I thank you for everything you’ve done in terms of creating awareness around this, in terms of helping organizations start embracing in terms of the role and how they can make a difference. I really appreciate you coming on the show to speak more about this critical topic around suicide awareness and prevention. So, thank you so much, Kathleen. Oh, sure thing. And just one more reminder, everybody takes that checkup from the neck up. Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-Suite radio. Leave a legacy, distinguish yourself from the pack, grow your success, capture the hearts and minds of your team’s. Fuel your future. come back in two weeks for the next episode or listen to our sister show with the Ops guru Eric Michrowski.

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ABOUT THE GUEST

Kathleen Dobson is a 21+ year veteran of the construction industry. As Safety Director for Alberici Constructors, she has responsibility for and supports their automotive, heavy civil, mining and industrial processes divisions. Kathi is engaged in project start up and provides sites with ongoing evaluations, audits and training when needed. Kathi is zealous regarding safety of workers and believes that everyone should be able to say they have the right PPE, the right training and the right environment in which to work. She is active on several national committees where she focuses on standards, advocacy and influencing the construction industry.

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