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Making Safety Communication Magical with John Drebinger

The Safety Guru_EP 53_John Drebinger_Making Safety Communication Magical

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True leaders understand companies that are safe are more profitable and more productive. John Drebinger, professional magician and safety speaker, shares his insights with large companies through genuine inspiration, fun magic, and educational safety messages. In this engaging episode, he emphasizes the importance of giving employees a personal reason behind safety. People often don’t buy into the safety vision of an organization without the why. Through honest, subtle communication and intentional actions, leaders can convey the importance of safety messaging in a way that prompts everyone to take personal ownership.

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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 wellbeing 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, 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 really excited to have John Drebinger on the show. He’s a safety motivational speaker, and also a trusted adviser to senior leaders on communication strategies. He’s worked with over 400 companies at 30 years doing this former magician has exceptional reputation in terms of shifting mindsets with all the organization he’s worked with by being fun and engaging. So, John, welcome to the show. 

Hi there. 

So, John, first tell me, how do you go from magician to passionate about safety and working with all these organizations driving amazing outcomes? 

Sure. Well, I still am a professional magician and still an active member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California, and proud to be that that’s an organization you have to actually audition to become a member of. And I’ve been with them for over 25 years. But anyway, the way I started in the safety business was I was doing magic at a restaurant in Stockton, California, and two restaurants I would do one night a week and go table to table. And some people from Pacific Gas and Electric were sitting at the table. And then they said, hey, we could use you as a magician at our safety kickoff. Back then, they used to do these huge safety kickoffs. They were safety Giants back then. And they would do these huge safety kick offs. The year before, they had a Dixon jazz band. They said, if you can use magic, safety is the magic word. We can tie that in. I said, that’s great. But at the time I was doing corporate magic. I was doing trade shows for companies. I would work their display and tie their product into the tricks to illustrate a feature of their product, the product name, whatever they wanted to get across. 

And so, I thought, well, I can do the same thing with safety. So, I said, send me one of your safety manuals and send me how you hurt people. Last year statistics, they did. And I wrote three magic routines tied to three different tricks that taught their concepts. And so, they had me at the Modesto fleet operations kickoff. And that was my first introduction to safety. I remember arriving, they had a truck that had been destroyed. Apparently one of their drivers was following a semi that had a forklift on the back of the semi, and the forklift was in an extended position. And when they went under a bridge. It flipped off and landed right on the roof of the guy’s cab. Luckily, didn’t kill him. He was there all bandaged up, and they had the truck as a message to everybody, hey, don’t follow too close. But anyway, so I did that meeting at the time. Another strong thing they used to do was they would attend each other safety kickoffs. And I highly recommend that the companies to find out the businesses, even if you’re in different fields, if you’re in a manufacturing company and there’s other ones in your neighborhood, go visit their safety meetings, see how they do stuff and get other inputs. 

So, you have other ideas and concepts you may not have thought of. Well, these guys had the smarts their safety people from all the different divisions would visit each other’s safety meetings. Well, immediately after the meeting, they’re going, hey, can you come to our meeting? And my answer was, of course, you pay me, I’ll go anywhere. That’s fine. So, they started having me go up and down the whole system, and I kept creating more and more safety message in the presentation. I did a lot of safety awards banquets for them. They used to do award banquets every year for their safety people and so forth in the different divisions in the company. And so, in those when it was families like spouses and the worker. And so, for that, it was probably 70% entertainment, 30% safety. But then when I was speaking at locations, it was pretty much 30% magic and 70% content with safety. So, over a period of time, the Los Angeles chapter of the National Safety Council heard how effective I was. And Joe Kaplan, who was then the President executive of the organization, asked me to develop a full day course for him on safety communication, which became my first book, Mastering Safety Communication. 

So that book came out, and we pretty much took that course national. And then the business took off from that point. Once I had the book and we started going to national safety shows, and all of a sudden people see me and saying, hey, we have to have you at our location. And it started a whole new career. And then since then, of course, I’ve become a professional member of the American Society of Safety Professionals, learned a whole lot more about the safety side of the business. But I think my real calling has always been how to get people. There are so many companies that are so focused on getting employees to understand all the safety procedures, rules, policies, and they’re great at that. There are very few times where somebody gets injured and they can honestly say, oh, I didn’t know I wasn’t supposed to do that. That virtually never happens. The training in these companies is fabulous. The part they leave out is and I hate using the word motivational because it’s so cliched, but they don’t give people the reason why they should do something a certain way. All right. You need to explain to a young person why using hearing protection is important. 

And when I’m giving a talk, I will say something like, hey, and I’ll talk about my grandkids. I’ll say, you guys, your 20-year-olds out there need to use your hearing protection. First off, you love listening to your music. You want to be able to listen to whatever music you want to when you’re 60, 70, 80, 90 years old. But someday you’re going to have kids, you’re going to have grandkids, and you’re going to miss out on hearing the sweet sound of that grandchild. If you can’t hear well. And I’d tell a story about a guy who used to be at a Rotary meeting I’d go to, and his hearing was horrible. You’d sit across the table from him less than 3ft away, and you had to yell. It was, hey, Wayne, how are you? And he’d go, what? And I’m not even screaming as loud as sometimes I would. And I guarantee you, Wayne, with all his grandkids, has never heard the sweet sound of their voice because this hearing is so bad. You need to give people the reason why. And a lot of leaders leave that part out. They tell people that safety is important, safety is a value for the company, but you need to give people a personal reason why for them if they would want to work safely. 

And the same thing for leaders when we talk about leadership, why is it important that you, as a first line supervisor, hold safety as a value? And that’s tough because you get somebody that’s been promoted. They’ve been doing a task now. They’ve been promoted because they’re great at their task. They’re now a supervisor. They’re leading other people. But they also know that one of the biggest factors is production. And they’re so focused on that. And they haven’t been with the program long enough to understand how important safety is, how you never want to be in the position where you found out somebody got hurt under your leadership, that you find out that when you have an injury, it does grow up production and cost. That safety actually has a huge impact on the effectiveness of any organization and its profitability. And because they don’t have that experience and that knowledge, it’s one of the things a lot of times upper-level leadership forgets to instill in those people. You’re not giving those young leaders, the men and women that are now leading. You’re not giving them a reason why safety needs to be of value and a very important principle to them in what they do and what they’re evaluating that their team’s doing in a given day. 

And because you leave out, that why they don’t do it. It’s the same thing where you teach somebody, hey, you need to lift properly. I remember I worked at Scout camp, and we’d throw mattresses onto a truck. We had a whole bunch we had to get rid of and we’re throwing them in a truck. And somebody says, hey, you need to lift Propulo. And I’m like, I’m a football player, I don’t need to do this. 

That nothing. 

I’m strong enough, right? But you have to make sure that people understand in an effective way that, hey, this is for down the road. It’s not going to affect you now, but later on, unless you give them that personal, why for them, whether it’s leadership, why safety should be important, or the worker, why they should put the guard on this device, why they should have their hearing protection on without that, they’re not going to do it. They just think, hey, what’s the point? And a good example of all the stuff we’re dealing with COVID now and everything else, people are so confused because the messaging has been so bad is, okay, do I need to wear a mask? Is it important? So, you need to think in terms of why is this important? And of course, that brings up a whole other topic you could go into and spend days on. But honesty is very important. Leaders need to be honest with people. That the reasons why you do things. I think that’s another problem with what’s occurring. There’s been so much misinformation about stuff. In the beginning of the whole COVID thing, they told everybody, oh, you don’t need to wear a mask. 

And the reason why they told them that was they didn’t want to run on masks because they needed them for the hospital workers. But that was an outright bit of its misinformation, and it had a reason behind it. But all of a sudden, the people that gave that information out had no credibility because they’ve already proven, I’m willing to tell you an untrue statement in order to get a behavior out of you. And leaders do that in safety. Leaders and corporations do that. You need to be honest with people, hey, we need you to do this because it’s more profitable. We need to do this because we don’t want to see you get hurt unless you’re honest with people. And people figure that out really quickly. There’s an inherent ability to figure out when somebody’s not being honest with you. So, I think those things are critical. And I think it’s so true. I’ve been seeing that when a leader expresses their personal why safety matters to them with stories an example, it becomes even more powerful because it feels more genuine. You’re more authentic, right? 

By the way, one thing I didn’t tell you before the call if you would like and you can edit this out or not or leave it in. But if you would like, I would be glad to provide anybody listening to the podcast a free eBook version of my book. Would you watch out for my safety? 

That’s fantastic. 

And all they would have to do is if they email me, John@drevenger.com. That’s John at Drebinger. D-R-E-B as in boy-inger.com. Mention the podcast and I will send them a link where they can download a free copy of that book. I’ve sold over about 45,000 copies of that in print. My first book, Mastering Safety Communication, word about let’s see 90,000 copies on it. So, both have been pretty good best sellers. But since they’re listening to your podcast, if they’d like, they can just email me and as a courtesy to you, send them a free copy of that and they can read that on you can read that on a Kindle. You can get a PDF version of it. You get a mobile version for Kindle and an EPUB for any other device. So, they’re welcome to that. 

Excellent. So that’s a great offer. Thank you very much, John, for offering that to the listeners. Maybe if we can touch on because you touched on a lot of the executive safety messaging piece, can you share maybe some techniques on how you’ve already shared quite a few. But any other thoughts in terms of how executives should message around safety? We talked about why matters being more personal around its authenticity. Any other thoughts that you think executives should really think about and look at themselves in the mirror and say, am I doing this to improve my safety performance? 

Well, one of my favorite formats is companies that will bring me in, and I’ll spend part of a day or a couple of hours doing a leadership session on safety. And a very good example of this, I was at one company, and we did the session with them the day before. I was doing all the employee talks at their different sites. And so, what was great about that is the leadership found out how important their role in what they do and what they say is the very next day because they had attended the session that I did on the importance of leadership, there were leaders actually going out throughout their facility, making sure that everybody was at the meeting where I was speaking. They said, hey, you got to make sure you’re here. They made sure people shut down what they were doing and came over and listened to it, where there’s a lot of times they’ll go to places. And there was one location that was really unfortunate for the supervisor involved. But the CEO of this one oil company was following me around. I was actually going around the different control rooms and stuff at the refinery and doing short little presentations. 

And when we got to one and the safety person had done a great job scheduling every little supervisor knew when we were going to get to their spot to have everybody ready to go and everything, well, we got this one spot, and the supervisor had purposely sent everybody out to do tasks at that moment. So there was virtually nobody in the room to hear the presentation. Oh, my, the safety guy was really disgusting. And he shared that with me. So, before we left that little section, I asked the CEO. I said, hey, give me a minute. Come on out. Let me talk to you. We went outside and I explained to him how good a job the safety guy done on scheduling everything. And that what had happened here was the person had sent people out on tasks right before we got there. And the CEO happened to be there because their company had two guys who were in the community and saved somebody’s life, did CPR and save the guy’s life in town, and he was there to help give them an award from the community and recognize them. So that CEO had flown out specifically for that had coincidentally going around with me, and I shared that. 

He said he was very pleased. He said, I’m glad to hear that. And I’m sure later on had a discussion with a supervisor that probably wasn’t the most comfortable moment in their experience. And by the way, that’s a significant factor when upper-level leadership pays attention to those kinds of things. I was speaking at the Johnson Space Center back in 2001 when George Abbey was the director, and I spoke for an entire year. I was there three days a month for the entire year to hit all the NASA employees. And it was a full day program called Safety Through Everyone’s Participation. And George is absolutely committed to safety. And he’s known as Mr. Abbey. And one week I showed up, and there was supposed to be 150 people at each session of the three days. And one day there were like 75 people. And I asked the safety person, I said, what happened? She said, I don’t know. Their managers apparently didn’t get them there. Well, Mr. Abby came in the room, saw how empty the room was, and everybody was signed up. By the way, it wasn’t a matter of like who showed up. 

They knew who was supposed to be there. Apparently, the next Monday senior managers meeting held in Mr. Abby’s office was a hell fire and brimstone session because the rest of the year there wasn’t a single session with 150 people in it. So, he was able to convey to his team that this was not something that people had an excuse to miss. And that was pretty significant. In fact, one of them to give you an idea at NASA, when they do a flight ready, when they’re getting ready for a launch, everybody that’s got their regular tasks during the launch may have additional duties. And one day when I was speaking, there was a launch coming up two or three days later. And I said, how many people here have launched responsibilities? And at least two thirds of the people raise their hand. And that really pointed out that even in the midst of a launch being at that safety day was that important and that Mr. Abbey wanted to make sure they were there. They understood that. And it was clear from the leadership, from the top down, this is not something you put aside, because he understood that’s the foundation of making sure everything happens. And he was focused on employee safety. We’re not talking about flight safety here. 

Sure. 

Which he was very much a proponent of also. But anyway, the key thing there was that the leadership making sure that other leaders understood this is important. This isn’t something you set aside. I spoke at Boeing years ago, and their safety person was smart enough. He contacted the President of the company and said, hey, you have a monthly manager’s meeting. Can I have 2 hours of that meeting? And the President said, sure, no problem. And so, he had me come in for those 2 hours and do a talk on leadership and safety. But he knew if he held a safety meeting about leadership, that a percentage of people would come to it and a percentage of people would have other excuses than things to miss. He knew nobody had an excuse for missing the president’s meeting. It was like, everybody is going to be there. And the President understood that he needed to lend that authority to safety. But I absolutely love it when I see leaders that I’ve taught their expectations. Everybody understands expectations when it comes to production and the things you’re getting done, holding people accountable, and it’s like, hey, you guys are meeting your production goals. 

You’re meeting this. But they need to do the same thing when it comes to safety. And it’s not safety performance, it’s not. How many injures did you have? Is everybody attending the safety briefing? Is everybody doing this? Tom Walters, President with the ExxonMobil, was sitting in a room. I was doing a presentation for them at Exxon Mobile. And afterwards, no less than five employees came up to me and said, hey, did you know the President of the company was here? And I said, yeah. I said, I’ve interviewed him, and he’s very committed to safety. And I had actually talked to him. I went over and said Hi to him when he got there. And he said, yeah, it’s a meeting for safety, for the employees in the building. And I work in the building. To him, he was going to be there for that reason. But what was powerful was the employees noticed him being there, and they were impressed that it’s like, wow, because he could have easily not bother to be there. P.G and E back in the days when they were safety Giants, I was speaking at the Abbot Canyon Nuclear Power Station, and one of their senior vice presidents, former Admiral of the Navy Ben Montoya, was there, and they had a policy whenever they had local safety kickoffs, somebody from the headquarters building in the executive offices had to be at each of the safety kickoffs and be there for the whole day. 

And Ben was so focused on safety. I’m part of this full day thing they have. And I stayed and listened to the other speakers. At one point, Ben stood up in the middle of the meeting and said, Excuse me, ladies, and gentlemen, but I have to leave for a moment because my number has come up with a nuclear regulatory Commission on having to take a drug test. And so, he had to go out and do the urine test. But he was so committed to safety, he didn’t want to have anybody think he was going out of the room to take a phone call to check on something. In other words, something else was more important than safety meeting. He let everybody know that this was something they all had to do. If their number came up, you don’t get to go. I’ll do it later. When he came back in, everybody noticed when he came back in the room, but they knew he didn’t leave because of something like somebody made a call that he needed to follow up on or they understood safety was very important to him and he was going to be there with them for the whole day. 

And that’s the kind of leadership that really conveys the message of how important something is. And so, I’ll coach leaders on the how to. I’ll also spend time sharing with them things they may be doing that’s undermining their message. I’ve had leaders that I know are committed to safety, that they’ll tell me stories and part of their history and everything, and I understand they are absolutely committed to safety. And yet when I interview the employees, they don’t think the leadership is committed. And so, I’ve discovered over the years there are things that undermine a safety message or even subtle communication skills where you’re not getting the safety message across. I always tell leaders; you need to tell people safety is important. Safety is a value in the midst of a crisis, when all hell is breaking loose, when the production is behind schedule, when everything’s going wrong, and you say, hey, Bob, we got to get this done by 04:00. This has to be done. I don’t care what you have to do. It’s got to be done at 04:00. That’s the moment when you have to say, and they need you to do it safely. 

In fact, I even use the illustration I teach, I teach leaders to say, look, when you do this, Bob, Shirley or whatever, when you’re doing this task, I don’t want you to do anything you wouldn’t want your own kid to do. And that’s what we call in communication and archetype. You don’t have to have kids to understand that’s a very high level of performance that I wouldn’t want you to do anything you wouldn’t want your own kid to do. But they need to share. That not just at the safety meeting, where the safety leaders will stand up and say safety is number one, which, by the way, it isn’t. That’s another thing I teach leaders, stop telling people safety is number one. It’s not you’re in business. If you’re in business, your job is to make a profit. And without that. But safety is how you do it. You make your product with quality, you have integrity, and all those are all the values of how you do something. They’re not what you’re doing. And so, you’re in business. Same thing with government agencies. When I speak at NASA, it’s, hey, you don’t waste any money. 

You want to spend all the money you can on your next mission, on the next space discovery that you’re going to make on your next trip, getting to Mars, getting to the moon, whatever it is you want to save every dollar you can, you don’t want to waste that on somebody getting injured. I mean, aside from somebody getting hurt, you’re wasting resources that could accomplish something. And I spoke in Oklahoma one year to the people that handle all the welfare and dealing with people that need homes and everything. I said, you guys don’t want to waste money on injuries, car accidents and other things like that that could be going to social services to help the people and your clients that you’re helping. Every dollar you spend on an injury isn’t going to that person that really needs your help, the counseling or whatever it is you’re providing them. And true leaders understand that they get the companies that are safe, are more profitable, they’re more productive. And the same thing with organizations that are working on a budget, nobody has more money than they know what to do with. That’s just not the case. 

Never seen that problem. But you’ve shared a lot of great ideas in terms of how to peers through different levels of management, because a lot of the challenges when I speak to executives is I’m committed to safety. But how do I make sure that message goes across the organization? And a lot of it, I think, is the signals you just shared, the CEO President showing up, demonstrating this is important, demonstrating why they’re there. Small signals tend to have a big impact in terms of piercing through. 

Yeah. And people say, walk your talk and everything else like that. And they think in terms of like, okay, are you wearing a hard hat or safety glasses when you’re in a facility? That’s not the key thing leaders need to do. For instance, a good example was the Boeing meeting where the President had the safety guy take part of his meeting. I used the illustration marketing. If you look at your market and companies all go to places and people attending a safety meeting is optional, whereas attending a marketing meeting isn’t. And I go, you’re telling everybody what’s important. 

Absolutely. 

Or maybe not optional. But if somebody on the teams feels like, oh, I had to go do such and such, that’s why I’m not at the meeting. I couldn’t make a safety briefing because I needed to do X, Y, or Z. If that same excuse would work for the marketing meeting, their salesperson meeting, their production, whatever other meetings there are, I’m fine with that. But if that wouldn’t work in those situations, you’ve got a problem because people aren’t agreed. You’re not applying the same importance to safety. That’s the other key thing people get that the first level supervisors, the people that would say, oh, there was something more important. The person that sent all the workers out when we were supposed to be at their little control room, they believe those tasks they were going to do was more important than the safety message they were going to hear. And you just need to let people know these are all equally important. 

In that case. Exactly. 

Making a quality product is critical. In that case, I always tell people quality is easy for a manufacturing company. If you let quality go down the Hill, the marketplace will get rid of you. You’ll be gone in a heartbeat, of course. But with safety, that’s not the case with safety. You see disastrous things happening. I’ve seen over the years leadership change in companies. We’ve had clients where their safety focus was incredible. We see a change in leadership, and they’re the type of company that would bring in somebody like me to teach their leader stuff. They’d bring in speakers like me to talk to employees and do motivational talks. I do one talk called Ensure Your Safety, and that’s focused on overcoming, getting people to not take shortcuts, taking personal responsibility, how to refocus when you get distracted, because that happens day in and day out. Other talk I do what you watch out for. My safety is about how to share safety. When you see somebody doing something unsafe, how do you do that? Well, people that bring in speakers like me and other speakers, all of a sudden somebody comes in and says, oh, we don’t need all that stuff. 

I literally over the years, I’ll tell my marketing person, I go keep track. I said, they’re going to have a major injury or a major incident down the road. And sure enough, they do you read about some fire or whatever? People in my Church, there was a fire over in the Bay Area at a refinery probably 15 plus years ago, and three people were killed. And somebody in my Church said, all they need to have you speak over there. I said, those guys will never have me speak there. They’re not committed to safety. They never have been. I’d already heard stories about them. I said, they’ve killed people before and they’re going to kill people again. And I actually bumped into a consulting company in Teams. I was having lunch with somebody, and they had mentioned that that company had actually hired them to come and analyze this one incident. And they contacted about six months later saying, hey, what do you want us to do to implement all this? And they said, no, we just needed the report, and they weren’t following up. So, you can spot places. Of course, in one of my presentations, I go when my kids were growing up getting a job, I wouldn’t let them work someplace where safety wasn’t a focus. And I make the joke. I said, yeah, if they got a job with a company that wasn’t safe, I’d call up the supervisor and say, yeah, my kid is stealing from you, get them fired. But anyway, the point being is I could spot the characteristics and the things that made it obvious that safety wasn’t a value to those people. And I’m not going to have my family members working at a place like that because eventually somebody’s going to get hurt and it could be them. 

Absolutely. You mentioned you talk, and you teach around executive messaging for safety. You teach around personal responsibility. I’d like to pivot a little bit on your third topic that you teach is really around how to share feedback and how to receive it, which I think is so critical. 

Sure. 

Because at the end of the day, that’s one of the best ways to drive improvements in performances is having good conversations around safety, around feedback, when maybe you’re doing something unsafe. Any thoughts you can share with our listeners around some of the techniques when you see unsafe work? 

This episode of the Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, reenergize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions. Propulo, has you covered. Visit us www.propulo.com. 

Yeah. Years ago, I was reading a fellow safety professional book, one of the things they pointed out that people had done a lot of studies on how to when you see somebody doing something unsafe, how to go and correct them or do an intervention so that they would feel comfortable, so that afterwards they’d feel empowered and all that good stuff. They said, the problem is nobody had studied how to make the person doing the intervention feel comfortable. And because of that, people don’t intervene. And that’s the other scary part in the field of safety. You talk to most safety professionals; they’ll tell you that a huge percentage. I don’t know what the true number is, but I know it’s way beyond the majority of incidents. Somebody gets hurt and people will say, yeah, oh, I’ve seen them doing that before. I’ve seen them do that. I’ve seen them do that dozens of times. Or we’ve always done it that way or basically, that behavior that way of doing the job or that hazard had been noticed? Oh, yeah, I noticed that bad step for a long time. It’s like, well, then why didn’t anybody say anything? 

There are so few incidences where somebody gets hurt and nobody saw that coming. And that’s tragic because you can argue, you can get into debate and safety. Are all injuries preventable? Well, certainly if somebody has seen the hazard or the behavior before, that’s 100% preventable. But the problem is people don’t know. And there’s a full 45 minutes to an hour presentation. I do would you watch out for my safety? And the book that I offered them if they want has the content of that end. But it’s the talk I do, and I generally take about an hour with it with employees. And I go into five reasons why people would want to watch out for each other’s safety, because I focus on the standpoint. You want to get people to want to do something. You want to get executives to want to focus on safety, to want to make sure safety is of value. And sometimes people call it a priority. But I like the term value. You want to give people to want to use the safety glasses or the hearing protection, even when nobody’s watching that they naturally don’t like. I’m putting these on because I want to put them on, not because I have to, not because it’s a rule or anything else. 

I want them to want to do it. In fact, my goal whenever I talk to employees and leaders is I want your people doing this stuff when they get home, when they get home and they’re doing something in their garage, they want to put in their safety glasses on because there’s no rule that says they have to. But I want to put them on. I post a picture on Facebook a few weeks ago. I was doing some mowing before we got our first rains here in California for the fall. And I had my hearing protection on my headsets on. And somebody, a safety professional, as a friend on Facebook posted, nice touch with a hearing protection. But I wear that because I want to protect my hearing. I want to be able to hear my grandkids. I want to be able to enjoy music. So, I approach that the same way I go into Why would you want to watch out for other people? And I talk about five basic reasons, two of which actually benefit the person. First, when I start with this, I said, you want to watch out for other people because when you start watching out for the safety of other people, your own personal safety awareness goes up. 

You become aware of hazards to you that you wouldn’t be aware of because you’re now looking out for other people. You’re going to see stuff other people won’t see. I say that about safety professionals. We tend to see things other people don’t see too many safety professionals ignore them. It always drives me crazy when I see at a safety convention, people Loading the exhibit hall or something and lifting him Propulo. And I’m like, or when the traffic signal changes and they’re crossing on the red or after the little flashing red hand comes up and it’s like, hello, we’re in the safety business. We do it because it’s the right thing to do and it’s a better example. But anyway, so I talk about why you’d want to watch out for other people. Then I get into when you see something, the reasons why people don’t. And there are three reasons I talk about in the presentation that people don’t intervene, one of which is they don’t think anything’s going to happen. I think that’s the primary reason people don’t point a hazard out to somebody. It’s like nothing’s going to happen in our life’s experiences. 

It won’t. I mean, think of all the safety violations, all the shortcuts that are happening today in the workplace and all the people that are texting while driving, all the things that are happening that people shouldn’t be doing and nothing bad happens. I mean, how many times you’ve seen people driving down the road with their phone very engaged, not paying a whole lot of attention? Somebody cuts you off on the road and you look, and you go, they had no clue I was there. You avoided hitting them. And you literally know for a fact they had no clue you were there for that person. They’ve been doing that behavior all day long. And how many people have they not hit? So, our human experiences and nothing will happen. In the talk I mentioned, I could be having lunch with you, and I’d be looking. Maybe I see somebody in the white staff step and climb up on a chair to change the light bulb. And I think, well, man, you shouldn’t do that. It’s not safe. You should use a step ladder. But in my life’s experience, I have yet to see somebody use a chair as a stepladder and fall off it. 

All right. So, I know you shouldn’t. I know it’s not a good idea, but personally, I’ve never seen a result in an injury. So, I could look at that and think, how would I feel? So, I actually go back in the presentation, I point out the fourth reason why you watch out for other people, why you’d want to watch out for other people is having no regrets. And I point out to people, I go think to yourself, if the kid fell off that chair and fell just wrong and got hurt, how would I feel knowing I could have prevented it? If I feel bad, then I go say something. I’m doing it to protect them, but I’m also doing it to protect me. I’m not going to feel bad. Oh, shoot. Something bad happened. Once again, the main reason, I think is people think nothing will happen. So, I say the way you handle that is you ask, if it did, how would you feel that you didn’t say something and protect that person. The second reason people don’t watch out for other people’s safety is or intervene is it’s uncomfortable. It’s not comfortable going over to somebody and saying, hey, that’s not the best way to do this. 

Or there’s a hazard there. And it’s because people self-talk. They say negative stuff to themselves. They think, well, that person must know that, or they’ve been here longer than I have. And it’s like in the talk, I do a whole the second reason people need to watch out for other people is people get distracted and they have this cognitive failure. Your mind misses something. You could be the most experienced working in a facility looking at a hazard and not actually see it. As a magician, I can make that happen on purpose. In my presentations, I’ll do two or three tricks that tie in the message. If I’m doing a full day presentation, I’ll do tricks every so often. Even if they don’t have something tied in the message, they’re just for breaking things up. Keeping the meeting interesting. 

Sure. 

But that second reason it’s uncomfortable. So now you got it. The key is and the third thing I point out is they don’t know how to safety meetings. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve been, and the leadership will say, be your brother’s keeper, watch out for each other. Everybody gets that. I understand. But how do I do it? Well, that’s what I teach people. And I guarantee you there are very few people that teach straightforward what I do a simple technique on how to point safety out to people in a way that the person pointing it out feels comfortable. By the way, it’s also comfortable for the person they’re sharing it with. But I see the person over there, I’m at a grocery store, I’m at a hardware store or something, and I see somebody near a hazard. I feel comfortable, perfectly comfortable going over and saying something to somebody because of the technique that I’ve come up with that allows me to do it. And one of the techniques is similar to the title of the book. It’s, hey, would you like me to watch out for your safety? And I do magic in the presentation. 

But that’s a trick question. When I say to somebody, hey, would you like me to watch out for your safety? 

Nobody’s going to say, no. 

They’re curious. It’s like what’s he up to, what’s he thinking of. Sometimes they’ll go like, oh, yeah, I shouldn’t be doing this because they are doing something they know they shouldn’t be doing, but they generally will say yes. And of course, now I feel comfortable because they’ve said, hey, they want the input. As a professional Speaker, I’ll hear somebody else speak. I’ll be at Church. I was visiting a Church downtown Sacramento. My son just moved there, and it’s about 20 miles farther from where I go to Church. And so, I wanted to go there and meet the pastors. I went to Lutheran Seminary for a couple of years. I couldn’t pass Greek to save my life. So, I continue on the lay Ministry. But I was talking to one of the pastors. I don’t give unsolicited advice, but I said to him, I said, hey, I’m a professional in the speaking field and I do coach. I said, “would you like it too?” And I said, “sure, the same thing.” It’s similar to saying, hey, would you like me to watch out for your safety? It’s like, hey, there’s something that might help you that would be useful. 

And I said, Great. And then he asked some more questions, and I gave him some more input. But people are curious. They want that. But you ask them nicely. There’s another technique I teach, very simple, just the simple phrase. As you know, you see an experienced worker over there. I’m new on the job. I’ve been here for two weeks, and this person is over there. I just got done with all the training, and you’re not supposed to be doing that or whatever. And the simple phrase, hey, as you know, there’s a power supply under there. As you know, there’s a hazard right behind you. If that person is having it is distracted. That moment, they’re thinking about their kid’s softball game that afternoon. They’re distracted because their car has a breakdown that they weren’t counting on. And they’re thinking about that. They don’t see that hazard. I’ve just protected them. But I’ve said, as you know, which presumes they know what they’re doing, and that way they feel comfortable. I feel comfortable. And so, I cover that in the presentation. Then I also go into how to respond. And the key there is, of course, to make the person appreciate that you appreciate their input. 

And I go into some great stories on that. Actually, my closing magic trick is I’ll borrow a dollar bill from some of the audience, and then we record the dollar bill serial number. It then gets torn up and ends up inside of a lemon back in one piece. And that’s my closing effect. But while I’m doing it to cut the lemon open, I’m wearing safety gloves. And I tell a story about a guy who, after a presentation, I had left my gloves at home that particular trip, I threw them in the wash. I left the gloves behind, and he came up to me after a presentation. So, I noticed you were cutting that lemon. He didn’t have any gloves on, but he walked up first, and he said, hey, would you like me to watch out for your safety? And I said, yeah, you bet. That’s the other cool thing about the technique I teach that’s cool people use it instantly and some companies have a good time with it. I call and the safety guy say, yeah, we’ve got everybody walking around going, hey, John told me to ask you if you want me to watch out for your safety. 

They’ll refer back to that. But either way it happened. So, he said, yeah. I said, sure. And he said, let me get you some gloves you can use the rest of the week while you’re here. And he got me these cool gloves. And I tell the whole story about the gloves and somebody else a few weeks later pointing out something to me and how I respond and what I do to let people know I appreciate that. And also, the communication barriers that you can set up. 

Sure. 

I was wearing gloves. The first guy gave me in another presentation, another guy came up and said, hey, would you like me to watch out for your safety? Because they were leather gloves with a Kevlar lining. And he didn’t know they had a Kevlar lining. But he walked up and said, hey, he offered me a pair of Kevlar gloves that would protect me better than the leather ones. I said, that’s great. I never told them the other ones had a Kevlar lining because I didn’t want to steal his moment here. He’s using what I taught them. He’s watching out for me. And later on, and I point out the presentation, it’s about making sure that the next person is watched out for it. If I just said to him, hey, don’t worry, these have a Kevin lining. Then later that day he might have seen one of the more experienced people in a place doing a job and thinking, oh, yeah, Bob knows what he’s doing. He must know about that hazard and then not say anything. And the person gets hurt. And of course, I use the magic to illustrate the points to keep it interesting. 

I also really believe an important element, and this is part of how I got into taking this nationally with teaching people communication skills and safety was so many safety meetings. Everybody say how boring they were. I was at one safety meeting as one of these big safety kickoffs, 350 people there. There was a guy on after me that was talking about something. And it was incredible, great information about how to stay healthy or whatever else. It was so boring. I mean, I was trying to stay awake, and I was interested in what they were talking about, taking notes and everything else. I finally had to go to the restroom. I got to go to the restroom and realized that the 350 people, easily 250 of them were outside taking a break. They had walked out of the meeting, and I said, no, you guys should be in there. This is really good stuff. And they go, buddy, so boring, we can’t take it. And I couldn’t argue with that. And so that’s part of the mission I took on was teaching safety people how to make safety interesting, how to get the that’s another thing I do. 

My happiest situation is where a company will have me come in and teach communication skills to the safety teams of the leadership, teach values to the leadership, and then have me do the employee talks later in the week, because then I get the whole spectrum where they get the whole package together. And that has a huge impact on how they do things. But yeah, it’s interesting still, I go to safety conferences and sit on other speakers. And it’s funny, some speakers actually have a negative impact on when they’re like some of the safety motivational speakers, there’s actually a negative impact on the audience. And it’s one of the challenges one of the challenges I have with what I call experiential speakers, somebody that got hurt, and then they’re telling how they got hurt. And, hey, don’t be like me. And it’s like there’s not a success, I’m sure, in your business or anything else, when you want to study how to be successful, you study people that are successful, not the failures. You study the people that are doing all these amazing things and how they got to where they did, what did they do. 

And in safety, too often we spend time as safety professionals analyzing what went wrong and what the root causes are and everything else. But that’s not the important part you share with employees. The part you share with employees is the reason why you’d want to do it years ago, I’m sure. I know you’re familiar with, but they had on TV a lot of the scared straight programs where they would take young kids and send them through a jail to talk to the prisoners and everything else. It turned out the people that went through that program had a higher incidence of crime than the kids that didn’t. 

Oh, my goodness. 

Yeah. Because scaring people doesn’t work. You tell people all this bad stuff will happen. And unfortunately, it doesn’t motivate people. And part of the reason is the element that any safety professional will tell you is most people believe it won’t happen to me. 

Almost everybody you talk to who’s gotten injured will say the same thing and convinced it wasn’t going to happen to me. 

Yes. Famous last words or the other one people say is, oh, I’ll be careful. And they do that when you hear an experiential speaker and they’ll go, wow, that’s amazing. They may even cry listening to the story that the person tells. And I’ve heard I’ve had speakers that I’ve worked with tell me, oh, yeah, they have the audience in tears, and that’s fine. But the problem is all the audience members are thinking, yes, but I wouldn’t have done that or that fatal flaw they made. Well, I would have been more careful. I would have seen that thing coming and avoided it. When I text, when I’m driving, I’m more aware of what’s going around because they’re different. That’s the fallacy. And the whole thing of you tells people like, okay, this is the person how they get hurt. You don’t want to do that. And it’s like, yeah, but that’s not going to happen to me because I’m better, I’m more skilled or I’m aware of that hazard. So, it wouldn’t happen. 

Which is the biggest risk. 

None of which is accurate, but that’s what people believe. Therefore, those motivational talks don’t have the effect. You need to teach people the positive techniques that actually get a result in people doing something safely, wanting to wear the personal protective equipment, wanting to do what they need to do. I far prefer. There was a guy who spoke at Con Edison. I was speaking there, and he got up and told the story and says, you know, the safety guy has been bugging me for years to make sure my shirt is tucked in. And some of the things he was talking about. And he says, I finally started doing it. And he says, three weeks after I started doing it, all of a sudden, one of the utility things they were working on, there was a fire that came flashing up out of it. He said, had I not had my shirt tucked in, I would have been severely burnt. Now there’s a story of somebody that was doing something the right way and it protected them. I’d far rather hear that than the person that got injured and why you shouldn’t do that. And I’m also a certified hypnotherapist. I studied that for communication. But when you have somebody talking about how they got hurt and how you shouldn’t do that, subliminally, they believed nothing would happen to them. A lot of the unconscious messages, they’re just terrible. So, it’s unfortunate, but it doesn’t have the impact you really want to get. 

But I think you bring an interesting point, even this element around that the gentleman with the shirt is another utility I worked with where they started using campaigns about people that made the right choice. So, for example, there was a storm rolling in. They decided to reassess the hazard, step away, and Lo and behold, lighting struck that particular place where they would have been. And they realized if I hadn’t done this, I could have had a worse result. And those types of messages are sharing what you should do and the positive impact, which I think is really good. 

As a hypnotherapist, I can tell you the unconscious message there is much more powerful because you’re reinforcing somebody did what they should do, and this is the payoff they got. And by the way, when people hear that, they don’t go, well, that wouldn’t happen to me. It’s like, oh, that’s pretty cool. It protected them. 

So, John, I really appreciate you coming on the show, sharing your thoughts. You have some great insights around the executive safety messaging, how you Pierce through different levels of leadership to connect with frontline team members as well as some great techniques around how to address something unsafe. Really appreciate you sharing your offer around the free eBook you’re going to send. So, if somebody wants to reach you, what’s the best way to do that? 

John, they can always reach me at John@dreaminger.com. John@dryinger.com our office phone number is area code 2097-4594-1929-7459 four one nine. Our website is drencher.com so it’s www. Dot D as in David. R as in Robert. E as in Edward. B as in Boy. I as in India. N as in Nancy. G as in George. E as in Edward. R as in Robert.com. So, dressinger.com and if they send me an email mentioning the podcast here the book offer. Would you watch out for my safety? Then I will send them a link. If they don’t hear back, be sure to call our office if all of a sudden, their email got caught in my spam filler or something because they should get the responding email within about 48 hours. So, we’d follow up on that and it’s been great talking to you on any more time you want to get together. I’d be glad to. This was a great experience and appreciate what you’re doing with it. 

Absolutely. Thank you so much, John. 

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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Safety is a CHOICE you make with James Wood

Safety is a choice you make.

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I made some wrong CHOICES and I’ve been in a wheelchair ever since.” Risk is the neglect of personal pressure on safety. Both management and employees need to make safety a daily priority and encouragement, one that should be stressed beyond production pressures or time constraints. There is a multitude of incidents just waiting to happen that we don’t think could ever happen to us. But it is our decisions that make the difference between an incident and another day at work. James Wood shares his experience about the series of choices that led to his incident and the ways that we can all prevent workplace injuries and fatalities.

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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 wellbeing 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 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 really excited to have with me, James Wood, who’s a world-recognized safety motivational speaker. He has a great story he’s going to share with us. He went to work one day as a typical blue-collar worker, came back home nine months later. So, James, welcome to the show. Really happy to have you with me. 

Good morning, Eric from Australia. Nice and early over here. 

Indeed, indeed. So out of Melbourne in Victoria, Australia, enjoying summer while I’m enjoying winter. So maybe why don’t you start a little bit with your story and how you got started? Maybe talking about when you were going to work that day and some of the elements and we’ll take it from there?  

Sure. Okay. Well, Eric, I should go back a little bit further. I’m the oldest of six children. My dad worked in the mining industry, firstly initially in the UK, and then we emigrated to Australia. My grandfather was in mining his whole life and that sort of transitioned to me getting an apprenticeship as a diesel mechanic in the mining industry. I finished my apprenticeship and things were looking pretty good. I was working as a qualified diesel mechanic. Good job, a little bit of ambition. I was hoping one day to make it into maybe a supervisor or a manager’s role. 

One day I woke up and went to work. It was a Monday morning, just after a couple of days off. Now the first job for the day, I was given a job to go out and fix a truck. Now, I think the important thing to point out here is it was something that I’d probably done hundreds of times before. So, when the boss gave me the job this day, I didn’t really think too much about it. I thought I can do that. I’ve done that before. 

 The next thing that he said to me, he said, look, when you finish fixing that truck, take it up to a parking bay. Now I can see where I had to go. The parking Bay was only a short distance away, so I thought I was only going to be in the truck for a couple of minutes. So, I fixed the truck, jumped up into the cabin, ready to move it. Now, just as I got into the truck, I had a look at the time, and I noticed it was five to nine in the morning. 

Smoker or morning tea was at 09:00. So straight away, I thought, Beauty, if I can get back to the crib room, the lunchroom by 09:00, I can catch up with my workmates. So, I took off down the road in the truck in a bit of a hurry, pretty keen to get back to the parking Bay, back to the lunchroom. I put my foot down, gone a little bit too quick for the conditions. I lost control of the truck. Wet road. We’d had a bit of rain around that day. 

A wet, slippery road. I’m going too fast. I ended up rolling the truck down the side of a Hill three times. They worked out that I rolled the truck three complete times. 

I got thrown out and I broke my back, snapped my back, and damaged my spinal cord. And pretty much I’ve been using a wheelchair for the last 30 years. 

Wow, this is quite the event. 

Yeah, that was the event, but just leading on from there. And I suppose to answer your question, it was probably about five or six years after my accident. I managed to go through hospital and rehab, and I was rebuilding my life even five or six years after the event. I was still in that rebuilding process. But one of my mates rang me. One of my former workmates ring me, and he’d made it up into a supervisor’s role, and he asked me. He said, Look, Woody, he said, we’re having a safety day. 

He said I want you to come out and tell people what happened to you. And initially, I refused. I said, there’s no way that I’m going to sit in front of a group of people and talk about my accident. But he kept nagging me. Eric, he’s one of those annoying mates. One day we were having a couple of beers together, and he asked me the question. He said, well if someone had turned up at our workplace and talked about their incident or told their story, is that the sort of thing that you would have listened to? 

Great question. 

And something just clicked, and I thought, you know what? I would have liked to have heard it not from my management, not from my safety people, but from someone that I could relate to, and they could relate to me. So, I agreed to go out and have a bit of a yarn at his workplace, and it just snowballed from there. I kept getting phone calls saying, look, we heard you’re out at such and such a place. Can you come out to our workplace? 

Indeed. 

So that’s the way that I started telling my story. And I’ve been doing it for nearly 25 years now. 

So, tell me a little bit about the message that you convey when you speak to audiences. I think one of the things that struck me was really your message around responsibility. And we’ll get to a couple of other themes that you shared, but maybe tell me about some of the key messages that you conveyed. 

My story, Eric, is all about choices. When I started my apprenticeship, we were given, obviously training and a bit of guidance by the tradesmen and the managers of where I work. We were given training, job training and safety training. We had systems and procedures in place that were supposed to keep us safe or ways of doing our job that were meant to reduce risk. But I made some wrong choices. I stuffed up the three key points that I try and get across to people are to people. 

When I share my story, I didn’t take that little bit of time just to think about the job. I just jumped straight into it. I actually put pressure on myself. I thought that I had to get the truck fixed as quickly as possible. 

Right. 

And I think that’s a fairly common thing with a lot of people. We put this pressure on ourselves that we just have to get the job done, no matter what. The second part of me getting hurt is I took a risk. I was going down that road too quick for the conditions, management and safety. People are always saying drive to the condition. I’m a perfect example of not driving to the conditions. And I think the third part of me getting hurt is I didn’t protect myself. The truck that I was driving that day had seatbelts I didn’t have a seatbelt on. 

So that’s the reason I got thrown out of the truck. Yeah. Those three choices can be applied to any role or any task. It doesn’t matter what people do. Just take that little bit of time just to think about what you’re going to do and how you’re going to do it. Don’t take a risk and protect yourself where the appropriate PPE and whatever you can do to protect yourself if something does go wrong. 

I think that’s a great point. I think the element you bring up around production pressure is something I hear quite often. And in some organizations, it’s legitimate. The organization is pushing, and they’re creating an environment where you’re more likely to create unsafe conditions because of that pressure. But what you bring up is an interesting point. There wasn’t a pressure from the organization, but you had imposed yourself on yourself a certain degree of pressure. How can organizations how leaders reduce that risk in terms of the messaging to make sure that somebody doesn’t put an undue pressure on themselves? 

Yeah. Look, I think it’s got to be that constant reinforcement that you can stop a job, or you can take a little bit of extra time to make sure what you’re doing is safe. A lot of workplaces that I visit. There’s no managers or supervisors saying right, get that done as quickly as possible. I hear the opposite. I hear if you need a little bit of extra time to make the job safer or to put some extra protection or things in place to be able to do the job safer, just do it. 

And that’s what I think management has to do. They have to constantly reinforce. Look, there’s no one yelling and screaming at you saying you’ve got to get the job done as quickly as possible, no matter what or you have to take a risk to get that job done. 

I think that’s a common theme because in many cases, people put pressure on themselves, and the leaders do have a significant impact or an ability to impact because of pressure that people can put on themselves. 

Yeah. Look, I see it a lot, Eric. I see a lot of people do put that it’s a perceived pressure they think to themselves. Well, if I don’t get this job done quickly, I’m going to get in trouble for it. I see a lot more where there’s some process work where they might be part of a bigger job. And if they fall behind in their area, it’s going to impact on the other areas to produce or to keep the job going. And in a lot of cases, you can just say, Look, I’m not comfortable with that. 

Let’s just stop until we can put some things in place to make me comfortable. Yeah. 

I love that one thing as well that I know when we connected, that struck me is you had a great quote. I’ll let you share it in terms of you really didn’t feel that anything was going to happen to you. Right. So, you’ve heard about other accidents and other people, but you didn’t think it was going to happen to you. And certain things like you said, you didn’t protect yourself with a seatbelt as an example. How does that happen? And how can you shift that? And first, I think you need to share your story on that front because it’s quite powerful. 

Yeah. I think it’s just a human nature thing. Nobody thinks that something bad is going to happen to them. It’s not until it happens to you that you think, hang on. This doesn’t happen to me. But the story that I shared with you when we chatted before Eric was, I can remember lying in hospital. And the doctor explained to me that I’d broken my back and damaged my spinal cord. And he said, look, you’re probably going to have to use a wheelchair for the rest of your life. 

And I looked straight at the doctor, and I said, Look, I think you must be mistaken. This doesn’t happen to me. I said that to the doctor, and I said, this doesn’t happen to me, right? And I think that we all don’t think that we’re going to get hurt. But look, unfortunately, if you do make some wrong choices, there’s a good chance that you increase that risk and you could get hurt. 

This episode of The Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, reenergize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions. Propulo has you covered visit us at propulo.com. 

And is there anything that a leader could do to help influence? So obviously you talked about your friend who brought you in to start conveying your story. But is there anything a leader could have done to help improve your chance of being safer on that day? 

Yeah. I think you need to keep in mind that I got hurt 30 years ago. So, we’ve come a long way with safety in 30 years. I see it in the time that I’ve been visiting workplaces. I see some of the improvements that we’ve made. I believe that 30 years ago, we almost and especially management teams, almost accepted the fact that some of their workers were going to get hurt and some of their workers were going to get killed. 

Sure. 

But we’ve had a complete turnaround over the last 30 years in that we now are at the point where we say, well, you know what? We don’t have to hurt people. We don’t have to kill people. So, a lot of that has come from management, and they’ve had to put extra resources into training and the things that they need to do to make their workplaces a safe place to work. But I think managers still have to maintain some sort of connectivity with their employees. And the reason I say that is the only time that we ever saw a manager, or a supervisor was when something went wrong. 

And I think that’s something that management have to do a little bit better. They have to make themselves visible to the shop for guys and girls and for no other reason. Just so the employees can see that management are aware of some of the conditions that they work under, some of the things that they have to do as part of their job. But I guess your question, Eric, my management and again, keeping the time frame in place, they didn’t really lead by example. They were quite comfortable to tell us that we should be doing this, and we should be doing that. 

But we would often see them doing something that wasn’t quite what they’re asking us to do. Sure, their credibility just goes right at the door. So, if you are in any sort of management or leadership role, if you’re willing to ask people to do something, you’ve got to be willing to do it yourself. And I think the other thing is we had some systems implemented over the time that I worked in the industry, and one of those systems was a system called Take Five. Now, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of that, Eric. 

Yeah, absolutely. The take five system. Now we were all given a little take-five booklet. It was a little pocket-sized notebook, and we were meant to carry it around with us. And before every job or every task, we were supposed to do a take five, I reckon the first probably twelve to 18 months. Our management and our leaders were pretty good. They were saying, look, have you done you take five, make sure you do your take fives now, after about two years, maybe two and a half years, that sort of died down a little bit. 

We didn’t get asked as often. Have you done your take fives? And I reckon probably three and a half years after they’d introduce that system. We very rarely got asked if we’d done take five, no incentive or encouragement or reinforcement for us to do them. And I had to take five books in my pocket the day that I got hurt and I didn’t do it. I just jumped right into that job without even thinking about it. Now, the strange thing about that I used to think that a take five was a waste of time. 

I thought it’s something to cover management. If something goes wrong, something happened to change that one of my workmates, he brought down some stuff from my locker in the workplace, and one of the things that he brought down with him was a whole pile of my old take five books, and I just grabbed them off him and I threw them in my bedside table in the hospital room. Now, one night I woke up about 03:00 in the morning and I couldn’t sleep. I was in a fair bit of pain, so I just reached over to my bedside table, and I grabbed one of those old take five books and I started flicking through old take fives that I’ve done over the years, and I came with some blank take five. 

And I don’t know why I did this, but I decided to do a take five for the job that I got hurt on. Now, had I taken five that day and done one properly, not just gone tick, tick, tick. But if I would have done one properly, I would have identified probably three or four different things that could have prevented me from getting hurt. So, we had the system in place that could have possibly stopped me from getting injured, but I didn’t use it. And if you were to say, well, why didn’t use it? 

I would say, well, there was no encouragement or no reinforcement to do it, I guess, for any managers or supervisors out there, if you do introduce a system or a procedure, you have to also be willing to constantly encourage or even reinforce people to use that system. 

I think that’s a really important point because I see it so often in organizations that you have a good system that gets implemented and people are looking for the next system to implement, but they haven’t necessarily embedded the tools that they have. Like you said, the good strategy is to embed in the first year, but eventually tapered off and attention went to something else. But some of these things, if they had been continuously reinforced, could continue to drive adoption. So, I think it’s a really good point. 

It’s not necessarily through what you’ve got out, but maybe even just look at how do I make sure what I’ve got gets implemented? It gets reinforced and gets really operationalized day in and day out. 

And I think the other thing is probably worth mentioning is I was working in the industry when we were starting to transition from bad culture to try and change some of those cultures. So, there was the time that I was in the workforce. There was quite a lot of changes made sure. And there was a lot of opposition to some of those changes, especially from some of the old school guys and girls saying, well, hang on. We’ve been doing this for 30 years. What do we have to change the way we absolutely? 

So, let’s transition. You do a lot of speaking to groups you’ve taken on recently a Covet project. Tell me a little bit about your project and a little bit of we’ll get to that after, but a little bit about how somebody could reach out to you if they wanted you to connect with a group and speak about some of your experience and also help shape people’s mindsets around it. 

Sure. Well, my little Covet project, I live in Victoria in Australia or Melbourne in Victoria. We have got the unenviable record of having been locked down for more days than any other place in the world. I think it was close to 300 days. We were in total lockdown where we weren’t allowed to leave the house apart from shopping, medical or work essential work. So, during that time, I decided to put together a little book. It’s called Twelve Reasons Not to Get Hurt at Work. And basically, Eric, it’s a lot of the ways that my incident changed my life. 

Sure, things that some of the topics are you can’t do some of the things that you used to be able to do. One of the things that I try and explain to people is I don’t think any of us realize just how much we take for granted. And it’s that old saying you don’t realize what you miss until you can’t do it anymore, right? So, things like that I cover the fact that because I use a wheelchair to get around. My difference is obvious, but I think some people, when they see someone that’s a little bit different, they straight away assume that they have to treat me differently. 

So, I get people that speak to me slowly so I can understand them. I get people shout at me as though I’m dead. I have a lot of fun with those ones. My book is just a short book just to give people a little bit of an insight into what it’s like to live with an injury. I think, Eric, you think about a lot of workplaces, especially large workplaces. If somebody has an incident or has an injury, that person gets taken to hospital, then they might have to have a bit of time off to recover and recuperate if they can’t come back to the workplace that they were working at previously. 

You know, a lot of people they don’t see some of the things that this person is trying to deal with and trying to cope with. So, I guess my job and the job of people like myself who share their stories is to just try and educate people on how an injury changes your life and how it affects a lot of the people around you as well. 

Thank you for the good work you’re doing on that side in terms of helping keep people safe and focus on really their personal choices that they can make and for leaders in terms of how they can influence others in terms of how they show up.  

Yeah. My sort of motivation to do these things, Eric, is purely to stop even one person from going through some of the things that I’ve had to deal with for the last 30 years, and we’ll probably have to try and deal with for the next 20 or 30 years as well. 

Absolutely. So, thank you very much for sharing your story. Anything you’d like to share about CNB Safe and your group? 

Yeah. Basically, if anyone does want to get in touch, I have got a website. It’s obviously CNB Safe, so C for Cat N for November B and then the word safe. Com au. Don’t forget that au at the end of it, us Australians are pretty proud of that au. 

Absolutely. So. Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your story. 

Thanks, Eric. I enjoy listening to your podcast and I’m happy to be part of one. 

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 and 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

James Wood offers workplaces something different. You see James had the training & he had the rules in place, but he made some wrong choices, choices that meant he would never be able to walk again.

James will share his message of ‘choice’, which he hopes will help other people to avoid the same mistakes he has made. James Wood made the wrong safety decision once and now he has to live with it for the rest of his life.

As James puts it, ‘It was supposed to be a normal day, I got up, I went to work and went home 9 months later’.

At a time in James’ life when he should have been thinking about having the time of his life, he had to learn how to live again…. He had an accident that left him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Workplace accidents always seem to happen to other people. We think we are indestructible, we tell ourselves ‘it will never happen to me.’

If James had made the right choices, his accident would never have occurred and his injury could have been prevented. The choices that we make have a wide reaching impact. Families, friends, work colleagues, supervisors and management are all impacted by what we do each and every day.

Everything that he used to be able to do became a new learning experience for him. Since then, James has been determined to live a full life and share his important safety message. The one choice you make could make all the difference for the rest of your life.

James’ safety presentation has a long lasting and significant impact on the choices you make.

Website: https://cnbsafe.com.au/james-wood/

James’ new book is out NOW: https://cnbsafe.com.au/12-reasons-not-to-get-hurt-at-work/

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New Year Special Episode – 4 Safety Megatrends for 2022 with Dr. Josh Williams, Martin Royal and Eduardo Lan

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As you prepare to ring in the new year, tune in to this special episode featuring safety experts Eric Michrowski, Martin Royal, Eduardo Lan, and Dr. Josh Williams from Propulo Consulting. They take the time to discuss important topics such as how to return to the workplace safely, learning organization, investment in safety coaching, and the evolution of Human and Organizational Performance. You are sure to gain beneficial insights as each expert highlights a specific safety megatrend to focus on in 2022.

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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 wellbeing 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-suit. It’s a real topic of daily focus. This is the Safety Guru with your host, Eric Michrowski, a globally recognized option 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 as we start preparing the countdown for the new year to have a great episode lined up for you. It’s four safety megatrends. Trends for 2022, 22 is the year ahead is two plus two. So, we have four experts with us that are going to share four key megatrends to start looking out for in 2022. 

Wow. Are you ready? Let’s go. Three, two, one together with me. 

I have Dr. Josh Williams, who’s been on our show several times. Josh, do you want to say a quick intro to yourself, everybody? 

Yeah, I’m happy to be here excited for 2022. And I’ve been doing this 20 something years, getting old. But looking forward to our session today. Thanks, Eric. 

Excellent. Well, thank you. And also have with me, Martin Royal. Martin Royal has been with Propulo for well over ten years. He’s been doing a lot of phenomenal work with leaders as part of organizational change. Martin, do you want to do a quick intro to yourself? 

For sure. Thanks, Eric. Glad to be on the show today and looking forward to discussing more about learning cultures today. 

Excellent. Thank you. Eduardo, who is coming back on the show, partners with Propulo Consulting, has been doing phenomenal work or driving organizational change more specifically, last 15-20 years, specifically around safety culture. Eduardo, welcome back. 

Thank you, Eric. Happy to be here with you and the rest of the audience really looking forward to this conversation and to helping leaders create environments where people can work safely and do so because they want to not just because they have to. 

Excellent love that. Okay. So, four topics, as I promised, looking at 2022. First one, we’re going to talk a little bit about the new normal with COVID. What is back to the workplace means how it’s impacting mental health, stress, fatigue and active care and what that means for safety. Then we’re going to talk into Behop with Dr. Josh, leading the conversation around some of the evolution around behavior-based safety integration around human performance. Then we’re going to go jump into Martin, who’s going to talk about learning organization, one of the key themes of a great safety culture and moving on. Really where the rubber hits the road. We’re going to pass it on to Eduardo, who’s going to talk about supervisory skills and how do you Hone those into 2022 to get real impact? 

So first, let me start a little bit on the new normal. So obviously dates have been changing for returning to the workplace. New variants are up in the news as we record this episode getting ready for the new Year hybrid remote work, return to work. Who really knows what’s happening? Some businesses have set on it. 

Some are still migrating. Well, what does that mean? From a safety standpoint? First, from a mental health standpoint, it’s so important. We’ve talked about another episode of The Safety Guru. Mental health is critically important, not just from wellbeing of the workforce, thinking about all the effects that mental health has taken over the last two years or so. But it also has a direct impact when it comes to safety performance. If you’re maybe distracted, there’s things on your mind. You’re not focused full attention on your job that poses a safety risk. 

And so that’s whereas a safety professional, it’s really important to start bridging that divide between mental health, which is often discussed in the HR field with the safety side of the equation. And that’s really where active care matters. If I know who my team members are, I notice that maybe somebody’s off a little bit today. Maybe I need to check in to see how they’re doing. Are they okay? I love there’s this quote in Australia where the way they talk about mental health is simply with the expression, Are you okay? 

So really reflecting connecting with your team members, knowing when something is a little bit different, something’s a little bit off and having the courage to jump in and really check in with them. So mental health, I think, is going to be hugely important as we start getting into 2022. The next one is really around stress and fatigue. We’ve talked about a lot. We’ve done some work internally on our list of the five key drivers of human error. Number one on that list is stress and fatigue. 

Stress is obviously incredibly present. Over the last 18 to 20 months, people have been mostly working harder, longer hours. There are more changes in the workplace that drives stress that also drives fatigue. If I’m not getting a good night rest, then I’m going to be more fatigue, which we know can put me in front of greater risk when I’m not fully there and fully focused, which really gets me into active care. And really that theme around something that most organizations have been talking about for the last 2030 years around safety. 

It really does matter. I talked about it before in terms of mental health. I know my team members; I know how they’re showing up. I’m more likely to be able to notice that something is different. I wrote an article just a few weeks ago. It was published in Forbes magazine. We had done a survey several months back and 80% of businesses that we had surveyed. We had talked to obviously, on the more mature side of safety, cultures reported that they had shown some improvements around how leaders showed up around active care. 

Phenomenally important. What’s important is also how do I embed that into the business? How do I start thinking about those themes, capturing the learnings and really making it real in the day to day? If you haven’t checked it out, that’s on Forbes. Forbes.com (https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/12/01/beyond-back-to-normal-embedding-positive-changes-into-your-safety-culture/?utm_content=189459539&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin&hss_channel=lcp-27064223&sh=19ea9f7432e9). You can have a quick look and really around active care is really this element of self-leadership. And how as a leader, I’m building in a conversation how I’m being recognized and that has a direct correlation to outcomes. We were doing some work with one of our clients. 

And what was really interesting is we started seeing a strong correlation between outcome indicators of safety performance and whether team members had interacted over the last month around safety. Perhaps with coaching conversations. That element of felt leadership was so directly correlated to outcomes really critically important. Josh is going to talk about it very soon when we start talking about conversations he shared just this morning with me an article that talked about how having good conversations around observations can lead to 47% improvement around Sith’s and a 60% reduction around hazards showing up in the workplace. 

So, on that note, I don’t know if any of you have anything to jump in on this theme of mental health, stress and fatigue and active care. So critical as you start looking at 2022 and really bridging the gap between what’s traditionally the domain of HR and the domain of safety. Yeah. 

I mean, my experience I think we could all in this collection relate to. It is when we’re talking with folks, whether we’re doing assessments, interviews, focus groups, we’re hearing stress more and more. Ever since Kobe hit everybody we talked to; it seems like doing more with less. It’s tough. So, we feel for people out there. Everyone’s kind of in the same boat struggling through it. And the felt leadership is a big part. But we’re going to talk about human performance and how that relates to default leadership. 

And, Eric, if I can let me just jump in for a bit, human performance is all the rage right now. People are talking about hop, or we call it Bee hop. So just a quick. I’m just going to do a quick background on behavioral safety, kind of the evolution and human performance and what that means for the good conversations we need to have with folks and this notion of felt leadership, how we transform a culture. So just back in the old days, when I was coming up, behavioral safety was taken over. 

Before that, there was a lot of emphasis on attitudes and motivation. Those are important things. The challenge was, what do we do with it? Sometimes you get a one and done motivational inspiring presentation or whatever or training. But then that’s it. What do we do? So behavioral safety came in. And of all the research out there, if you want to get nerdy and start looking up statistics and research in the safety field, you’re not going to find more than you will on behavioral safety. It has been studied for decades. 

There’s all kinds of science and research showing the benefits of behavioral safety and what it did was kind of transform the focus, not just in teams of what I’m thinking and feeling, but what am I doing? As we all know, if you minimize risky behaviors on the front end, you minimize the chance of something bad happening on the back end. I mean, I hate to be cold talking about human life, but in many ways it is a math equation. Fewer risky behaviors in the front end equals less chance of something going wrong in the back and doesn’t guarantee it. 

But it makes it a lot less likely. So, focusing on behavior is smart. And so behavioral safety comes along. And there’s science behind it. And one of the biggest benefits is you’ve got checklists that are used to see what’s going on, what’s working? Well, what’s not working? Well, theoretically, we’re getting input from people doing the work, hearing what they have to say and making changes based on it’s a beautiful system. Martin is going to talk about learning culture in a moment, but it’s a beautiful system when done properly to get that input, to create a true learning culture on a regular basis, as opposed to kind of one and done training sessions. 

The challenge is it’s not easy to do so as we transition to talk about Bee hop and human performance. On the behavioral safety side, three big things happened that made it difficult to do. First are implementations being poor. It became a commodity, so people are buying and selling behavior-based safety. So, people are throwing out checklists without the proper training with no discussion on conversations, essentially saying, here’s a checklist and go use it very quickly. When I was in graduate school, we did research with funded by NIOS at a company. 

Half the group was given a card and said, Go use it. The other half created their own checklists and rules for use and other things around it. We call it the participation group. They use their cards seven times more than the people that were simply told here’s a card and go do it. And too often with behavioral safety failures, there was not a proper implementation on the front end. It was here’s a card here’s how you fill it out. Go do it. So not surprisingly, it didn’t work. 

That was the first big. The second big issue was technology, and it’s great to have technology help us whom we’re doing various functions on the job. But these behavioral checklists got increasingly long because it was easy to fill out on technology. So, I’m filling out a 50 or 60 item checklist. That’s crazy. Nobody’s doing that properly or very few people are. It became a problem became all about the cards and the checklists and the quotes you get you one in at the end of the month. 

So now that you got the system of quotas of pencil whipping and a larger problem of this black hole where we’re feeling stuff out and we never hear back. So, employees are not talking to each other first. But second, they’re bringing up issues that are important and no one’s getting back to them. So not surprisingly, behavioral safety. There were some struggles. The third issue was simply it’s hard. It’s hard to maintain something long term. So, we got to acknowledge that, particularly on the behavioral side. So, as I’m trying to go quick on the hop side, on the Behop side, we’re talking about human performance and the two big tenants there one quit blaming people for getting hurt, Demi said this years ago. 

Don’t blame people for problems created by the system. The second part of that is to fix the system. The first response when someone gets hurt is not who screwed up. It’s where the system fails. We’ve got to reorient our thinking to understand that we all operate in a context. And if we improve the system, it influences our behavior. The very quick story. I got to do one sports analogy really quick. Random lost, great receiver, troubled guy problems throughout his career on and off the field goes to the Patriots. 

Not that I’m a Patriots fan, but they’ve got a tight system overnight. He’s a night and day guy. He’s out in the community doing all the stuff for charity. Now he’s on TV doing this stuff. Total transformation. Same guy in a different system behaves very differently. If we improve systems, we’re improving the likelihood of better attitudes and better behaviors out there. So, I just want to kind of point that out really quick. Two more thoughts here before we transition over here to Martin in terms of the Bee hop, what we call it, it’s behavioral and human performance. 

There’s a lot more emphasis on people talking to each other. As Eric mentioned earlier, it’s about having good conversations, these cards that we use when we roll it out with clients. We’re talking four or five things. What scares you about the job? What do we need to do differently? What would you do differently? How can we help? These are open ended questions, getting people talking. And if we respond to that and address issues based on those comments, you don’t need incentives and all these other gimmicky things to get people to fill them out. 

They want to because stuff is getting addressed. So, the Behop is all about conversations and being responsive to concerns when they’re being brought up. And again, mistakes are seen as opportunities to learn, as opposed to occasions to punish. It’s all that just culture people are talking about in a nutshell that’s what it is. So, the last point really quick is positive accountability. Some of the concerns that people have with human performance is we’re getting any personal accountability when mistakes happen. It’s not true. We’re just trying to reorient to the first response being address the system factors and supervisors. 

It’s a tough role for supervisors who are trying to keep. They need to set clear expectations and use positive means to maintain those expectations that we’ve all agreed on. That’s positive accountability. It’s doable it’s hard, but it’s doable. So, the end of this is essentially when be hop is done properly, we’re improving Felt leadership. There are various tools like leadership listening to us. Leaders are going up asking questions. They’re not going around saying good, bad or indifferent. They’re out there asking questions, trying to learn that creates an environment of openness, which is part again of that felt leadership saying felt leadership is one thing. 

Using listening tours is actually doing it. So, there are some tools and human performance that help with that felt leadership we mentioned as well as good conversation. So, with that said, I’ll turn it over. Martin, we’re going to talk more about learning culture. 

Yeah. And I think before I go there, I just want to emphasize I think your point around Behop is really key. A lot of people have implemented some form of observation program, many of them it’s not working anymore. People aren’t using it. They’re mailing it in, don’t throw it out with a bad water. It’s time to start thinking about how do you re energize? How do you get better conversations? And I love your approach, Brad. Deeper questions to ask people to reflect on what’s dangerous, about what you’re going to do today and really start deepening those relationships, but always keeping those elements from the behavioral base safety side that does work. 

So, thank you, Josh. Martin. So, you’re going to talk to us a little bit about learning organization. Probably one of the key themes of a great safety culture. 

This episode of the Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, re energize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety, leadership training and talent solutions. Propulo has you covered! Visit us at propulo.com. 

For sure. Thanks, Eric. And I’d like to share a bit more today about my prediction for the future of learning organization, but also to combine that with our focus on discretionary effort, the employee experience and safety. Because for our listeners probably are aware that at Propulo, we focus on discretionary effort as a way for our clients to gain a competitive advantage when it comes to safety and safe production. And what we know is that when it comes to workplace behaviors that drive safety, there are those that are we call our compliance behaviors completing hazard assessment form following safe work procedures, wearing the right PPE. 

But what we found it’s not sufficient for the workforce to engage in compliance behaviors to drive exemplary safety performance. These, beyond the minimum behaviors, are more difficult to measure, and they often involve positive safety behaviors that are targeted toward achieving your safety goals, like staying vigilant in the face of changing conditions, supporting the team, sharing safety information. And of course, we won’t see any of these behaviors listed on any employee job description. But a lot of our organizations that are doing extremely well safety wise will have employees or greater proportion of employees that demonstrate this behavior. 

And what’s interesting about this Krishna effort is that it only emerges when there’s a high level of workforce engagement and commitment so that discretionary effort is the behavioral manifestation of engagement. I wanted to share some insight today around the concept of worker experience, how an organization that focuses on learning and how can we increase that discretionary effort in our workforce? Now, why is the worker experience? What does it matter? I would say the employee experience is the hallmark of learning organization because the emphasis is on developing the mindset, the behaviors and systems that are conducive to have an optimal employee experience that will encourage high safety performance and discretionary effort. 

Now for the listeners that are maybe familiar within the Its industry. So, software companies have talked about the user experience for quite some time. It’s to describe the experience of app users how they engage with the app. It’s a concept that focuses on the emotional response of users and how they interact with the features and functions Facebook, Google, Twitter, or Masters of this to create engaging users’ experience. Now, the same ideas we can take four employees in the organization. So, employee or the worker experience just simply describe how employees think and feel through every touch point during their time with the organization could be recruitment, onboarding development, performance to things like long absences of work, remote working on boarding or things like incident investigation, injury, radiation, disciplinary action. 

Why we want to look at this employee experience is simply that the employee experience underlies the commitment and engagement that we need to drive discretionary effort. And you could think about it that your employees experience with safety management system will determine at the end the extent to which they will adopt, use and improve on the system. I wanted to share an example that remind me of our clients of ours, a European zinc and silver mine that I happened to visit. I think five, six years ago and their agency team would share with us their concerns that the miners were not reporting near misses, not anything that surprising. 

We’ve heard of these kinds of concerns before now, putting the mindset aside around reporting names when you look at the process of reporting narratives at that point, it was quite cumbersome and at first we have to understand the workers operated at 500ft below ground, and there was no way for them to fill out any form whatsoever. If any incident or near misses were happening. These near miss forms were in a building adjacent to where the miners would meet before taking off. At the end of the day, the form itself was convoluted. 

Workers would drop it off in a box to preserve anonymity, which is good. But then no one would hear back from these reports or if any, corrective actions were taking place. And so, while many leaders are often tempted to blame workers for poor attitudes towards incident reporting or lack of motivation, when you look at these workers experience of the near miss reporting system, you can see it’s quite easy how someone might just feel frustrated, disempowered to submit these kinds of reports, let alone even appreciating the value of doing so. 

If we want to build on more positive employee experience around safety system, a couple of things that we can look into. One is looking at the factors. The main factor that may drive that positive experience could be the safe work procedures, safety policies, tools and equipment learning and reporting system safety communication teams, the reward and recognition system field oversight. I would even go to look at the coworkers and peer relationship, and the goal would be to determine how workers experience the system and whether the system is supporting their intended goal, which we’ll presume. 

It is about encouraging error identification, prevention and mitigation. Now, what if I’m a manager and I’d like to improve my employees experience? All right. So, a couple of things for me, I would say as a leader, I would say, start with yourself, how are your employees experiencing you? Do they feel they are treated fairly? Do they feel that you value their opinion and contribution? Do they feel they’re encouraged and supported? Do they feel that you provide them with opportunities for development? Do they feel that you hold them accountable for high safety standards, or even do they feel that you should have the concern for them as individual? 

I say that’s the first and as Josh mentioned earlier, basically, it is about going and talking to our people, talking to workers and getting that sort of feedback. But here’s the thing as a second step. So, I would say that you start with yourself as a leader. Second, is you could do the same with your front-line supervisors and also try to get that feedback is how are the workers experiencing your front-line supervisors? Same kind of question to start to get a sense of how or why are they doing the things they do? 

And are there elements around the leadership that could be improved now? Third, might be around the system that you want to gather feedback on, which often requires to get out in the field. Get the feedback. Seek to understand the experience of this system what works and what doesn’t work. My experience is we need to ask all the right questions, especially if the workers have not been accustomed to providing any input, especially to senior leaders. So, questions might be things like what gets in the way for you to work safely? 

How can we improve our approach to report safety incident or name another safety system that we want to look into? What do you think we could improve? What are the things you think about our recognition program? So, I’ll recommend you pick just a different list of systems that are more critical that you want to get feedback on and just go out there to get that feedback. Now, one thing I’ll say, though, you might need for in certain workspaces might need to build a trust first. If trust is in there. 

One of the reasons is if people have had some mistress or senior management, they may not open up. And so, we’re going to need to start building that trust, building a bit of the commitment that if the feedback is provided that’s something will be done about it. And so, as a leader, I would say the goal is not to make commitments to make massive critical infrastructure improvement, but more small improvements that demonstrate that. Hey, we listen to you, and we are going to take action to make things better. 

So, we’ll see later on a note that my colleague will Home in on the supervisor’s experience. But I wanted to share that as a learning organization at the end of the day, it’s really about looking, how are we operating and what’s the impact on our workforce? And if we want to give them a better experience, what are some of the changes we can take on? 

Thank you. Thank you, Martin. I think this whole theme of learning organization so key to safety and definitely should be an area of focus going into 2020. Eduardo, you’ve talked last time you were on the show, you talked a little bit about supervisory skills, couldn’t agree more. It’s really where the rubber hits the road. This is where safety culture really manifests itself and how you have impact is going to be how the supervisor interacts with team members. And too often I’ve heard team members saying they’ll trust a supervisor. 

They’ll do what their supervisor does. They’re more important to them day to day than the CEO even is. So, Eduardo over to you. 

Yeah, absolutely. Eric. And thank you, Martin and Josh as well. Yeah, it is really where the rubber meets the road. And I understand what you’re saying about what workers comment in teams of their relationship to their supervisor. And he or she is being more important than the CEO. Now, this is logical, because oftentimes they don’t even know the CEO. They’ve seen them on a pamphlet on a brochure. They’ve heard him speak, maybe, but they don’t know him or her personally. And they do know the supervisor. And so that person, really the supervisor is where the rubber meets the road. 

I would say for two reasons, one because they are in direct contact with the worker, and thus they are able to influence that person and they do for good or for bad constantly. And second, because supervisors are really between a rock and a hard place. And Josh was mentioning that we feel for people, and we feel for supervisors because we understand the challenges that they face between producing and keeping people safe. And it is a challenge. It’s not easy to handle that challenge, but it can be done. 

And we know from experience and from working with many, many organizations that when organizations and supervisors and other more senior leaders focus on safety, people work better. They produce more they produce with higher quality. But if supervisors are really where the rubber meets the road, we need to invest in them, and we need to train them, and we need to develop them. And unfortunately, that is usually not the case. Supervisors are usually promoted through the ranks in organizations because of what they know because of the type of worker they are and the level of performance they have. 

Which one? In one sense, it’s important that they know the job, that they know the technical aspects of the job, because they’ll be supervising people directly. But oftentimes many of the things that made them stand out as individual workers get in the way of them being effective leaders, because being an effective worker is really about getting stuff done by yourself, being assertive and as a leader, you really need to get stuff done to other people, and that requires leadership skills and leadership skills are very different from technical skills. 

We’re talking here about your capacity to create relationship, your capacity to interact with people, your capacity to listen to people, to get people thinking, to get people speaking to get people. And that discretionary effort that Josh and Martin were talking about is key. And there is no one in the organization that has more power to really generate that container, that environment where people are willing to go that extra mile, to be creative, to think about things, to stop and pause before they do the work, then supervisors, so really investing in them and developing them as leaders is key. 

Now to do that, we need to give them all these skills that I talked about. And one key skill that I think is crucial is helping them to become better coaches, because, in essence, and with the type of work that people do nowadays in industry essential, that their direct leader, that is their supervisor and be able to coach people so that they themselves can become more self aware, become better at managing themselves, really coaching people to think about the work that they’re doing and to consider what are the risks, what are the hazards that they will be facing and how they will be mitigating those risks. 

Now again, unfortunately, because these are not necessarily skills that we have. Naturally, some supervisors develop them naturally, and we’ve seen Rockstar supervisors, but many don’t. They’ve never developed them, and they’ve never been taught. But these are really skills that are essential because it’s in those coaching conversations that supervisors have with workers that you will get workers to really look at how they work, look at their behavior and really get them to think about what they’re doing so that they don’t get hurt on the job. In this regard, we’ve come up with very specific skills that we teach supervisors, and we do so both in a classroom setting. 

And this is not your typical classroom with lots of PowerPoint slides and lots of concepts. No, these are about supervisors having conversations about what challenges they’re having with people, what it is that they want workers to do that they’re currently not doing and what they can do to get workers to do this. And these classes are full of role plays where they act out that relationship between worker and supervisor and how to have those conversations. And ultimately, we even develop supervisors through field coaching, having them practice these skills in real life situations. 

And some of these skills have to do. We come up with an acronym called Dare, and we call it Dare because it really takes courage to lead in this way. First off, because we’re not used to leaving in this way, and it’s going to be uncomfortable starting out. Second of all, because we’re asking supervisors to step away from this traditionally authoritative role of I’m the boss. I’m the supervisor. I’m going to tell you what to do when you’re going to do it to more collaborative relationship. 

And so that takes certain things. It takes the ability, as I said before, to create relationship. As you’ve all mentioned during this conversation, it really takes an ability to not just care for people which most supervisors do. We don’t doubt that, but to actively show that care and to delegate work in a manner that promotes safety. Now, what do I mean by this? Telling people what to do and how to do it does not work. First off, you don’t know whether the other person heard you, and you certainly don’t know whether the other person understood you and so telling someone what to do and how to do it. 

And then we tend to ask people or supervisors tend to ask people, did you understand? And of course, people are going to say yes, I should, of course. But that doesn’t mean they understood. It just means they’re saying that because they don’t want to look foolish. So, delegating work effectively means telling people what to do, but asking them how they’re going to do it, and furthermore, asking them what risks they will be facing and how they will mitigate those risks. Second, and this again takes courage because it’s not something we’re used to the A in there is about acknowledging safe work, and this is really key. 

We know from years and years of studies in various fields that people really thrive in an environment where they are recognized, they are appreciated. They’re acknowledged for the things that they do. And yet traditionally, we don’t do that. We just focus on what’s wrong. Now, here’s the problem with focusing on what’s wrong. Many people will say, well, that’s where I need to focus. That’s where the gap is. I need to talk about what’s wrong. The problem is it’s unfair and it’s counterproductive, and it’s unfair because people do more right things. 

They do more safe work than they do dangerous work. And thus, speaking to them always about what they do wrong. What they do unsafely is unfair. And second, it’s unproductive, because if I Eric, I’m your supervisor and I come to you and I correct you, and then I come again and I correct you again, and then I come back and I correct you again. What’s going to happen? The fourth time I come around, are you going to be all happy to see? 

I’m sure I’m going to be thrilled to see you. 

Exactly. You’re going to hate me. So, it’s really important to do that. The next aspect is redirecting at risk work, and that, of course, is important. We need to redirect unsafe behaviors. We need to redirect unsafe conditions, but it takes skill to do that such that you can redirect without offending the other person in a way that not just maintains but actually strengthens their relationship and really has the other person take the message to heart. And finally, the E in the Dare acronym is engaged. And its really what Martin was talking about of generating this learning culture, where there’s this back and forth with the organization and with the people that are really the experts of the work itself, which are the workers. 

So really teaching supervisors to create environments to create conversations where people are willing to engage are willing to speak up. And that’s really what this is all about. So yeah, really passionate about helping organizations upskill their supervisors, because as I said at the beginning, this is really where the rubber meets the road. And if we get this piece right, a lot of good can be done. 

I agree. I think you tied everything together. Edward. I think the element of how a supervisor starts interacting create a safe environment, how they’re coaching links to some of the themes that Martin was talking about earlier in terms of creating a learning organization where people want to put in more discretionary effort towards safety, where we’re constantly learning from what could go wrong, which ties us back to Josh was also talking about conversations and really those coaching interactions. And really the element of how do we start looking at things from a just culture standpoint? 

How do we start removing a lot of the risk and the blaming of the employees, but still continuing to do some of the good stuff around behavioral observations, driving better conversations? And then at the front end when I was talking about really the key element around mental health, wellbeing, really bridging that divide between safety and HR, really addressing some of the impacts around stress and fatigue, and then really the active care and self-leadership. All those key pieces, I think, are really the four core mega trends to focus on in 2022. 

So really appreciate all four of you. Joining me today. Eduardo, Martin, and Dr. Josh great conversation. Great topics to explore and wish you a happy New Year! 

Happy and Safe New Year. 

Happy and safe New Year to everybody. 

Happy New Year everyone, I would say Bonne et année!  

Let’s count down together. 10 – 3, 2, 1 

Fireworks, Champagne, and Happy New Year! 

Thank you for listening to the safety guru on c-suit 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. 

The Safety Guru with Eric Michrowski

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ABOUT THE GUESTS

Dr. Josh Williams, Martin Royal and Eduardo Lan are Partners with Propulo Consulting, the leading Safety and Operations Strategy Advisory & training firm. Tapping into insights from brain science and psychology, Propulo helps organizations improve their Safety, Operational performance and Culture.

Dr. Josh Williams: 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 150 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.

Martin Royal: Martin is an expert in Human Performance & Business Transformation, coach and facilitator who helps clients create a committed and mobilized workforce to achieve their operational excellence, safety and wellbeing outcomes. Since joining Propulo Consulting in 2011, he has delivered well over 400+ safety culture change workshops and training programs centered on the development of employee empowerment, difficult conversations and leadership skills for global clients in North America and Europe. Martin supports Propulo Consulting’s contractor facilitator workforce and internal consultant team to enable them to deliver exceptional safety engagement training programs. He also supports the development and client-customization of Propulo Consulting’s various leadership and employee training offerings. Over the years, he has been involved in leading safety culture improvement engagements with various clients in industries such as aquaculture, construction, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, and utilities.

Eduardo Lan: As an accomplished organizational consultant and safety leadership coach, Eduardo has extensive experience in safety culture transformation, leadership development, and high-performance projects and operations across the United States, Europe, Canada and Latin America. With over 20 years of experience in Leadership and Organizational Transformation, Eduardo is truly an expert in Organizational Development and Change, specifically safety culture and leadership. He has designed and led seminars, workshops, coaching sessions, and entire programs on personal and organizational transformation for hundreds of organizations and thousands of people and works with leaders and teams on identifying limiting behaviors that thwart high performance, assisting them in producing breakthrough bottom-line results. He holds a master’s degree in Organization Development and Change from Pennsylvania State University and multiple certifications in consulting, coaching, safety, ontology, MBTI, integral theory, appreciative inquiry, adaptive leadership, and mindfulness. He is a frequent columnist for multiple business and industry publications.

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Holiday Special Episode – The Top 10 themes and ideas from 2021

Holiday Special Episode_The Top 10 themes and ideas from 2021

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ABOUT THE EPISODE

A year in review. The Safety Guru’s Top 10 themes and ideas from our 2021 season! Get caught up with the ideas that will help you leave a legacy in 2022! Happy Holidays!

Special thanks to our 2021 season guests: Nick Marks, Michelle Brown, Donald G. James, Kina Hart, Tricia Kagerer, Curtis Weber, Brandon Williams, Candace Carnahan, Dr. Tim Ludwig, Alfred Ricci, Dr. Josh Williams, Dr. Mark Fleming, Gardner Tabon, Steve Spear, Spencer Beach, Eduardo Lan, Dr. Keita Franklin, Jason Anker, John Westhaver, Dr. Tim Marsh, Glen Cook (Cookie), Dr. Suzanne Kearns, Dr. Robert Sinclair and Russ & Laurel Youngstrom.

READ THIS EPISODE

Real leaders leave a legacy. They capture the hearts and minds of their teams. Their origin story puts the safety and wellbeing 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 option 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 2021 is almost coming to a close and we’re about to wrap up our second year producing the show for all the leaders and executives out there like you that are seeking to leave a legacy by making the workplace safer. More than any other time of the year. The holiday brings loved ones together to celebrate with those that matter the most of them. This time of the year symbolizes why my team and I do the work that we do to partner with exceptional leaders and companies that endlessly focus on ensuring that their team members come home to their loved ones every day. For that, we thank you. We extend our sincere appreciation to you for your gift of safety for each and every one of your team members. 2021 has been a year full of exceptional ideas on this show. Ideas from a diverse set of thought leaders from academia and from real world practical applications. I have two awesome episodes to cap off this year. Today I will share a reflection of the top ten ideas I heard from my guests on this podcast. The next episode first will ring in the new year 2022 with four experts sharing their top four ideas for 2022. Well, you must be wondering why four guests and four ideas whether you’re 22 is two squared.  

So now on to our top ten lists for 2021. Best episodes that I’ve heard here from our guests. Let’s start with number ten. This year we had a great lineup of safety motivational speakers from Russ and Laurel Youngstrom that talked about moving safety from the head to the heart to Jason Anker that really talked about making safety part of your life and the impact of mental health on safety. We’ll get to that soon. Kina Hart and Candace Carnahan that talked about making safety personal. Curtis Webber that touched on the importance of leadership and onboarding for safety. Spencer Beach about putting safety first, listening to yourself, John Westhaver about road safety and wide matters, and finally cookie around power line safety, his episode around looking up and living. All of these motivational speakers do some exceptional work and sharing the importance of staying safe and help influence the mindsets and ultimately the behaviors of others. For that, I thank them. 

Well, it is essential for every team member to choose to work safely because they recognize that safety is an investment into the experiences that they want to have with their loved ones. Sometimes we also need to step into the shoes of somebody who had an experience to understand that this could happen to us as well. Of this great lineup, two episodes really caught my attention. First one was around Russ and Laurel Youngstrom. This dynamic duo had a really authentic story around safety. What caught my attention was the story about a close friend of Russ who was there the day of the event who witnessed him getting seriously injured, falling from heights and yet a short period afterwards was also caught not wearing his safety harness while working at Heights. The other part is, Russ was very authentic. When I asked him about what would have prevented him from making this at the time, he essentially said that nothing could have stopped him. It was already in his mindset at the time. Cookie, you got to love somebody who goes by that name. Well, he had a fantastic story about powerline, safety and really that people were getting more easily injured when you could see the power line versus when you were digging, and you couldn’t see it really important story about situational awareness and a great app that gets people to reflect and think about the hazards of power line. 

And now on to number nine, the Happiness Index with Nick Marks, A Statistician with A Soul. What really caught my attention about this episode was the element on the focus on a pulse, a regular pulse of your business. The work he had done had identified how pulse of the workforce is a very fluid scenario, and he brought some examples from the first few months of the coveted pandemic and how a month over month and week over week, people’s perception around the workplace were shifting. So, what really that brings forward is the importance of measuring a safety pulse on a more regular basis, not even just doing it annually or quarterly, but maybe even thinking about their workforce and their perceptions in a small sample on a weekly basis so that we get a great leading indicator and may be able to impact and drive action earlier. He also touched on the importance of psychological safety and some ideas on how to measure it really key topics for 2021 and beyond, and now on to number eight safety culture. What would a year on the safety group be without conversation on safety culture? But this year we had two great professors come and join us. Dr. Mark Fleming, as well as Dr. Bob Sinclair. Dr. Mark Fleming’s episode is interesting. He touches on the topic of signal theory, which was Nobel Prize research. Essentially, he’s trying to understand what are the signals that executives can send to truly send the message that safety matters here. Point he brings forward is that sometimes when an executive will walk around, they’ll say that safety is the number one priority, and the team members are really trying to understand. Is that signal true or not? A couple of the key items is about how can executives present more powerful impactful messages when they do spend time and field because that time and feel is going to be limited. A great episode for senior leaders to think about their messaging and sending the right signals across the organization. 

The other thing he touches on is really the importance of fixing things, but also of helping people solve their own issues around safety and how that sends some very reinforcing positive signals. Dr. Bob Sinclair also came on our show later in the year, and he was talking about some of the links between safety, climate and ultimately behaviors, which is the whole reason why we’re focused on safety climate and safety culture, but also touched on the importance of complexity of rewards too easily. You can drive the wrong impact by having the wrong metrics, but at senior levels, if you don’t have the right indicators, then you may not be prioritizing safety the right way. So great episode. Very complex theme touches on it. The other element he touches on, which I’ll get to very soon and more details is around supervisory skills and how that’s a critical, critical place to begin a journey around safety culture. Really making sure that your supervisors are maximizing every single interaction to drive meaningful impact because ultimately that’s who find my teams members speak to the most and are probably the most influential in the day to day. Of course, number seven goes to Human Factors with two great guests this year. 

Let’s start with Dr. Suzanne Kearns. She teaches aviation safety, and one of the things she touched on is really around how in the 70s and 80s, the culture was really around finding the air within the pilot. Post an investigation. There were a series of very high-profile aviation accidents that were primarily caused by pilot error during the 70s and 80s and really start challenging the industry to think about. Is it really about challenging the error of the pilot, or is there more to play with? One of the most interesting examples she brought forward was around Eastern Airlines. 

If you remember the crash where there was a faulty light bulb that changed the attention of the crew, and they didn’t realize that they disengaged the autopilot and flew their aircraft straight into the ground, something that should never have happened. So, she really talks about how you need to lurk look at the environment and the situation touches on human performance, really as a scientific discipline of why people make mistakes. One thing I really loved about her conversation was around the Swiss cheese model. She touched about how we have multiple layers of protection, but each one of them has holes in it. 

And if those holes line up, that’s where an accident can happen. So, the concept is an accident itself is actually quite rare, but those leading conditions that could allow it to happen are more frequent. So, she really focuses on how you start looking for those leading conditions and driving real impact. And then there was Brandon Williams, from fighter pilot to airline captain, who recently just got promoted as a captain. He touched on four critical themes in my mind. One, he touched on the concept of just culture learned, touching on some of the items that Suzanne Kearns also discussed. 

But he also talks how that drives in your misreporting and creates a learning environment and the critical importance of it. He touched on the importance of situational awareness and tools and tactics that can help increase worker situational awareness, which is often why things go horribly wrong. I loved as well how he touched on the concept of accountability as peer accountability, as opposed to sometimes the negative view of accountability, which is where we start blaming people. I love this concept of peer accountability from his episode, and now we go to number six, where we go to Steve Spear, who teaches operations management at MIT. What I loved about this episode is he touches on the importance of really creating a learning organization if you want to drive safety. He touches on the concept of seeing problems, how that becomes a capability where people are constantly obsessed with finding opportunities to drive improvements, and then, Secondly, how they start solving them nonstop, trying to find even little things, really touches on the theme that we touched on before around human factors and human performance, really trying to solve those leading conditions. And finally, really about how do we share and disseminate that knowledge. 

He touches on three stories that are incredibly powerful. First one, he has first-hand experience around Paul O’Neill’s work at Alcoa and really how Paul O’Neill did some phenomenal things around safety, truly, by driving the importance and the focus and within the organization. From his initial meetings where he talked about how we’re going to fix everything through a focus on safety, to try to make sure that he knew about every single incident within 24 hours in days prior to even a Fax machine, and how that drove really this sense of ownership, accountability across line leaders. 

And finally, that if somebody wasn’t on board, how he took an action. Second one was really around US Navy, and he talked about some great examples of how you make sure a new team member comes on board and can be anywhere in the world and yet make the right call right decision. That was a great story. And finally, I would touch on Toyota, which was another example he brought on, which is really around the onboarding of a leader and really how it’s really about coaching great episode, lots of great insights about creating a learning organization, which is really the crux of driving safety performance. 

This episode of the Safety Guru podcast is brought to you by Propulo Consulting, the leading safety and safety culture advisory firm. Whether you are looking to assess your safety culture, develop strategies to level up your safety performance, introduce human performance capabilities, re-energize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions. Propulo has you covered visit us at propulo.com 

Now on to number five. We had Professor Dr. Tim Ludwig who joined us. The safety Doc meets the safety guru. His book, Dysfunctional Practices That Kill Your Safety Culture, has amazing resources and ideas on things that you could do and probably are doing that are making things worse around your safety culture. First thing you touched on is really stop blaming your employees. And he brings a lot of really good examples of leaders that think that our employees aren’t doing the right things and blaming them. 

Again. Linked to the earlier topic around human performance. He talks about some of the theory around behavioral change and how do you make that tangible and real in the business? And does it really change from day to day through coaching interactions? And how do you actually make a change and then really the importance of the environment in which you’re operating in great book, but also great episode and now on to number four Mental health. We had four experts bring up the topic over the year, but two really caught my attention. 

The duo of Jason Anker and Dr. Tim Marsh that worked together Jason Anker from more of a motivational standpoint in terms of his experience. And then Dr. Tim Marsh from some of his work and his research around safety culture. And really the key theme and what I loved about those two episodes is how they were able to directly link the impact of mental health and safety. Often people touch on the topic. They were able to connect the dots and essentially unfortunately, a lot of organizations the mental health side is being handled by HR and the safety side by the safety professionals, and what he’s advocating, what they’re talking about is really these things are often interconnected talks about the importance of active care and how active care is an incredibly important theme to start surfacing that maybe somebody is not as okay as you think today and that could be a precursor to an injury really driving that link. 

Such an important theme really important for safety leaders to start thinking about the impact and how they can collaborate with HR around driving mental health within their business and now on to number three. Safety supervision. Such an important topic I mentioned before, Bob Sinclair mentioned the importance and why it’s so critical for your supervisors to really have the right skills. Eduardo talks about how often supervisors are the ones that got the least investment in teams of leadership skills often get promoted from the craft because they were really good at the job but weren’t given the tools around influence, particularly around safety. 

And if you want to make a real difference for safety, that’s probably where you need to start around upgrading the skills of your supervisor. What I love about Eduardo talks about the four core critical behaviors that you need to drive in the core skills you want to bring forward, which is around how you delegate work safely, how you acknowledge safe work. So really the element of recognition and how that plays an impact in terms of ultimately in terms of the outcomes, how do you redirect unsafe work, which is probably the most challenging one? 

How do you get difficult conversations nailed? How do you help coach a team member so that you get real lasting impact and behavioral change? And finally, around engaging your team around safety to get more participation, more involvement? Great episode, tangible ideas around safety supervision and how do you make it happen within your business? Definitely has to be an area of focus going in 2022. Now on to number two safety leadership. What topic could be more important than safety leadership if you want to drive meaningful impact? 

Well, this episode was around with Michelle Brown, who dedicated her career to helping leaders. She speaks a lot on the impact and the key elements of transformational leadership and some of the experiences she’s had with some of those transformational leaders. Really about how do you leave a legacy? The power of questions and really, ultimately, the impact of what interests my boss will fascinate me. And how do you use that as a positive to drive safety culture change within your business? Incredibly important topic around leadership as well connects with some of the topics we heard earlier around Mark Fleming and his conversations around signal theory. 

Two episodes that really touch on the impact and the importance of safety leadership, and now moving to the number one idea from my episode in 2021, we had Dr. Josh Williams introduce the concept he calls Be Hop. He brings ideas to help take your behavior-based safety to the next level. We all know that BBS has probably had the biggest impact around safety performance, but unfortunately, a lot of organization it plateaus, and often it plateaus because BBS doesn’t address themes such as safety ownership. The human performance items I talked about doesn’t go deep enough around coaching doesn’t focus sufficiently on critical observable actions. 

Basically, the higher risk items that people should be observing. Key performance indicators tend to drive the wrong impact, so too much focus on mailing it in by driving up the number of observation cards. Often BBS programs lack in terms of organizational change. Don’t touch organizational systems don’t drive safety participation, and there’s still blame. As we heard from Dr. Tim Ludwig. So, Josh proposes a couple of key ideas to help introduce and integrate behavior-based safety with some of the human performance tools we talked about before to drive real, tangible impact and push. 

Plus, a Plateau and performance Bee hop a great tactic, very different from traditional observation programs. If you’re looking to make a difference, listen to that episode. There you have it, folks. Those are my top ten for 2021. Listen in on December 30 as we look forward to the top four safety megatrends for 2022, the top four safety megatrends to move and power your safety performance into 2022 and then join us in 2022, as have another phenomenal line up of guests and ideas for you.  

Once again, thank you for the work that you do helping workers come home safe to their loved ones for the holidays. Hey, and if you know somebody that should be on the show, let me know. Let’s make safety fun, simple and useful for executive and leaders. Let’s make a real difference. Happy Holidays from the safety guru. Thank you. 

Thank you for listening to the safety Guru on Csuite 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. 

The Safety Guru with Eric Michrowski

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Eric Michrowski is a globally recognized thought leader and guru in Operations and Safety Culture Transformations. A highly sought-after Executive speaker on the global stage, he has led executive training programs, coached the C-Suite, and connected with thousands of Fortune 500 senior leaders. He has been featured on TV, in articles, and Podcasts, hosts syndicated show on the premiere business podcast C-Suite Radio and has an upcoming ForbesBooks book to be published next year. His approach is anchored in evidence-based research and practical applications in Human Performance, Process Excellence, and Organizational Change. He brings over 25-years hands-on experience in Operations Management, Culture & Business Transformations, and Safety having worked across a broad range of industries. Across his work, he has achieved substantial improvements in Safety, Operational and Financial Performance, and Employee Engagement, always by incorporating Epic Cultures to maximize results and sustainability.

Connect with Eric at https://www.ericmichrowski.com

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Making Safety Personal with Candace Carnahan

The Safety Guru Podcast with Erich Michrowski Episode 27 - Making Safety Personal with Candace Carnahan

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Incidents can happen to anyone, that’s why it’s important to make safety personal. Candace Carnahan was involved in a workplace incident when she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. She highlights that everyone needs the courage to care, and to take responsibility for safety to reap the benefits. Candace reminds us that anyone can get hurt and the importance of speaking up to improve safety performance – if you know better, do better! Tune in to hear Candace’s story and insights.

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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. Today, I’m very excited to have Candace Carnahan with me. She’s a health and safety motivational speaker and advocate for health and safety based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Candace, welcome to the show.

Thank you, Eric. Happy to be here.

So, tell me a little bit about your story and what drove your passion for safety and to become this motivational speaker that speaks to a lot of global companies.

Well, as my story starts, almost two decades ago, I was working at a paper mill in I’m actually from a place called Miramichi, New Brunswick. And the paper mill was the bread and butter of the community, I guess. And I knew as a child of a parent that worked there, my mother, that I would be employed there. And so, I did a summer internship; I guess you would say labor work. And this would have been in nineteen ninety-seven that I started.

So maybe, needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway. Safety training was not really high on my radar, and really something that we were talking about in school training was looked upon as something that was a bit of a pain in the butt and overkill. Again, when you work at a place where your folks work at, you don’t really think that you’re being invited into the pits of danger. I, on my third summer, stepped over the top of a conveyor belt system.

I had been using that method of crossing from one point in the middle to the other for three full years, basically watching other people do it and following their examples and not thinking for myself and really making a choice to take a shortcut, not considering the consequences. And on August 11th, I put my foot down at the wrong place at exactly the wrong time. The margin of, you know, the chances of getting caught were so slim. But I did.

And my foot, yeah, my foot went into the rollers where the belt converged and the point, if you will, and I was stuck there for almost half an hour. Yeah. You know, stuck there while they called the ambulance. And they basically had to disassemble the system, the maintenance crew. Yeah. To free me and get me out. So, it was traumatic, to say the least.

And it’s really unfortunate. And I think it’s too often I hear that story of somebody new to the role coming in, and then something critical happens. And I think what would you talk about is really the importance of caring, having the courage to care to make a difference, the onboarding, training, talking about safety. Like you said, it’s not something that most people grew up in school thinking about safety. It’s just embedded in what how we think for most people.

Tell me a little bit about the courage to care and what that means, and how he could have made a difference.

Well, I think that after I saw the impact that my incident had on the fellows, I worked with, and it was a predominantly male industry and a great group of people. I think what people don’t realize sometimes is what a measure of strength can look like is actually speaking up and saying, be careful and not, you know, moving along with this. Let anything go. Shortcuts are cool. You know, the mentality that, unfortunately, is still very much alive and well in a lot of industries.

It takes courage to speak up and to tell somebody; I don’t want you to get hurt. I know everyone is doing something this way, but you know what? This way is safer, or that way is safer. So, there was a lot of guilt and feelings of, you know, why didn’t I say something? I should have spoken up. Yeah. With the people, I worked with. And in seeing that, it made me realize that sharing my story so that not only me and my family and my friends didn’t have to go through something like this ever again, that also the people that I worked with who were significantly affected didn’t have to go through it and had the tools and the understanding of how they could prevent it.

I think that’s a really important point is to two things, is that too often I hear people just they see something that doesn’t feel right, but they don’t necessarily say something because they’re afraid about how do I say this correctly? What’s going to be the impact if I do it? But the impact from what I remember when we spoke a little while back was even all the way down to the first responders in terms of how they respond and the impact on them.

That’s right. I’m happy you reminded me of that part of the story. Yeah. That the gentleman his name was Dale. He wouldn’t mind me saying that he was my first responder and rescue me. And it wasn’t until years later, I mean, 15, 16 years later, that I ran into him on the river fishing, as people do in America. And he shared with me that he was on a work of post-traumatic stress disorder and largely in part due to my experience and my incident.

And so, yeah, here I am living my life and have no idea what step, you know, impacted somebody else for so many years so greatly. Yeah.

And it’s really the power of telling stories, sharing those stories, sharing a lot of ideas around. How do you convey because what I’ve seen in many cases is a bit like you describe other people then start feeling guilt because they start thinking, I could have said something, I should have said something and not truly necessarily realizing what’s the risk; in front? And different people have a different understanding of risks and hazards. I know the first day, if I if I’d gone straight from school to working in a place like that, I wouldn’t have known what danger is and what I need to do to protect myself.

Well, you know, people say all the time, if you would, you don’t know. Can’t hurt you. And I try. That’s because I didn’t know I could get hurt. I didn’t know I didn’t. The first step in not getting hurt is truly recognizing that you can be you know, if it can happen to somebody else, it could happen to you. And you know something you said earlier just a moment ago about, you know, if I had known better and the people that I worked with, they did know better.

They just became a place and got used to taking that shortcut. And the more you get away with doing something; it reinforces that you’ll get away with doing that something again until you don’t. So, I always say to people, you know, if you know better, do better.

Absolutely, and I think I remember I started on the airline industry, an industry that’s known for its understanding of safety, the recognizing the importance of safety, and so many amazing disciplines around safety. But I remember from initial training, some of the elements of what you got trained and we got drilled in safety over and over and over for weeks before even having access to anything remotely close to a plane.

That’s good to know.

But once you are going to do this. Yes. You know, weeks and weeks of training and you didn’t circumvent, you had to show you understood. It is probably no industry I’ve ever seen other than maybe nuclear puts so much emphasis. And it really training and investing and understanding what that risk and the hazards are. But even then, you’d go on the line, and you start seeing people being slightly more complacent. And that becomes dangerous because if you have a little bit of complacency here and there, that’s where because it starts happening.

Listen, I could jump right in there. I’m going to tell you, as somebody who’s constantly flying to get to work on a weekly, daily basis, what really drives me nuts, and I can’t wait to get that kind of plane to be driven by it again. So, what really drives me nuts is when you’re on the plane, and they’re asking for a couple of minutes of your time, right. You listen. So, it’s not even the employees in the workforce.

It’s the passengers. Oh, for sure. You know, we have a few minutes of your time to let you know what the safety procedures are. And I’m sitting beside somebody on the inside. I’m on the inside. I like the window, and they’re on their phone. And I will say, excuse me, I do politely. Would you mind paying attention? And I had a fellow look at me one day, and he says, East Coast is coming out.

The fellow he says to me, you know what? What do you think the chances are that something’s going to happen? He’s really just joking with me, you know? And I looked at him, and I said, well, I don’t know. But they’re not none, are they? And he said, yes, you’re right. You know, so I mean, again, it’s that mentality of it’s not going to happen to me is just alive and well in all facets of our life.

And it’s if you’re looking for it, as I typically do, and you would also as The Safety Guru you said, you know, and it’s like this people can say, oh, I realize I’m not invincible yet. You know, as we always say, our actions speak louder than our words. So, if you were actually disregarding safety instruction and rules and regulations in any environment, then your kind of contradicting yourself as far as I’m concerned. Right, because you’re saying I actually am above this, and this isn’t going to hurt me.

It’s so, when you talked about that, you see something, and you say something. It’s something that you bring up a lot of your conversations. I’ve certainly had the same conversation with a fellow passenger on a plane who isn’t doing something that’s highly unsafe. Once, it was a person who are taking out their entire laptop just as soon as the flight ends had done the safety checks. And I called him on it very gently and highlighted the risk around why the laptops were gone.

They were obviously has done it as soon as the flight attendant took the safety checks, but it didn’t result particularly well. It resulted in about an hour and a half long flight of the guy grumbling and complaining and moaning about me for the duration of the flight until we arrived at the destination. But he did comply. So, you talk about this theme of saying something, something sometimes that goes well; I’ve had an executive sometimes tell me what it was.

In one case, he was correcting a team member who was doing something very unsafe, working on a ladder off-centre, drilling into the ceiling with no eye protection stuff, flying into his eyes, try to get that person to stop. And it said three times, it’s not always easy. So, tell me a little bit about what your experience has been around sharing stories, obviously saying something and driving the right outcome.

You know, I saw two of my things. I often say I cheer. If you see something, say something with my audience. And I believe that sharing story saves lives. And so those two go hand in hand. So oftentimes, clients and people I’m working with will say to me, how do I approach somebody and tell them yes or no, do it this way or you know, and that’s when I say, OK, that’s seeing something and saying something.

But it’s also great to share a story and make it personal. You know, it’s hard to argue with somebody who’s saying to you, I care about you. I don’t even know you, but I care about your family. I care about the effect you have on the environment here. I care about, you know, seeing that you get home safe. And I also care about myself and not having to live with the fact that I should have spoken up when I saw you do something that wasn’t safe.

But I did it, you know, so there’s a number of ways I think that we can approach situations. And you know what? They will not always be accepted with grace, but. I think that you know, that the more people, the more often approach the topic of safety and step away from rules and regulations. And because I said so and approach it with because I care, you know, there’s a much better chance, a greater chance of success because people have a bit of a harder time arguing with that.

And how do you get somebody to overcome that question mark that there’s say something that, you know, you see something? There’s a lot of people that that sometimes will say, hmm, but maybe nothing wrong will happen out of it. How do you help people get to the realization of I need to be comfortable saying something almost all the time? Well, we’re all that.

Yeah, for sure. And I think that what you just nailed there, Eric. As soon as you say and there say something like, that’s the sign, you know, don’t even second guess at all because your gut instinct, which in my mind is the most important piece of you have to work with, that’s your gut instinct. So as soon as your gut instinct is causing you to have that feeling, that means action is required almost always.

So, I think also that people when they’re you know, the question is this maybe it’s none of my business. That’s what I hear. Right. Someone told me it wasn’t my business, or I’m thinking maybe that’s not my business. And I always say when it comes to safety, make it your business. When it comes to safety, it’s everybody’s business. And again, you know, it goes back to the fallout of those affected by a workplace injury.

Nobody goes to work alone, and nobody gets hurt alone. So, it is you’re right. It is your responsibility and how you look at it as an opportunity, in addition to an obligation to have the courage to care to speak up, see something, say something, do the right thing. You know, if you know better, do better. There are so many ways that you can put it. And once I start talking about safety, I just get super jazzed of a safety nerd.

But there are so many ways that you can that you can, you know, that you can frame it. But the bottom line is, is that you don’t want to. Somebody’s not going home to their family; the people that you’re really going to work for are the people who are waiting for you at the dinner table, not the company that pays your check. You know, and I think that’s what we also have to keep in mind when we’re actually even ourselves challenging ourselves to take risks that nobody else is asking us to take.

You know, we’re not advocating for ourselves often enough. We should be having that conversation. Well, what’s it worth to me? What’s the risk? Who’s going to pay the price when we’re thinking about taking a shortcut or not bothering with that third step in the safety procedure? You’re not going to get a raise for that. You’re not going to get a pat on the back unless you’re working for a company that I’ve never met before. You know, and at the end of the day, you’ve got absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose, as does your family.

And I think that as individuals, we need to keep that in mind. I always go back to my incident. I mean, I if I did mention the other people who set the example. Sure. But at fault and blame our words I use; they’re not proactive. I use responsibility. Yes. It was the other people’s responsibility to set a great example, a good example to say, for example, it was my responsibility also to think about what I was doing and to consider the risks in my actions, you know.

So, pointing fingers and placing blame doesn’t bring back a loved one, and it doesn’t make limbs grow back. So, taking responsibility and being proactive is the state that I like to operate from.

And I think the leaders have a huge ability to influence that because they can create an environment where people are comfortable talking about it. They can reinforce the right behaviors that can reinforce that somebody stop work because they felt something didn’t feel right and in a really reinforce that challenging attitude day in and day out. So, I think a lot of that, in my opinion, rests on how the leaders show up and how they create the environment in the culture for the right behaviors to happen and appropriate proper basis.

Absolutely. You know, and I see it with people and the companies I work with every day, those that are demanding that people shut down massive operations. Right. You know, in the name of safety and actually exercising that right to refuse. And then, you know, ExxonMobil, for example, is a company that I worked with here on the East Coast off the label on the oil and gas rig. And I mean, there is there can be a great expense to shutting down, of course.

Right. But, you know, companies that put the priorities and the safety and the well-being of them of their workforce first, that’s where that’s where you want to go. That’s where you want to work with. And at the end of the day, also what I think is, you know, so admirable and that’s such a great example is when these organizations actually take those stories and those situations and make sure that globally they are diffused and shared at all levels so that, you know, an example is being set by that throughout the whole entire world, within the organization.

I mean, the power in that is I mean, I don’t have the words, but it’s really key. I remember way, way back early on in my career, again, in the airline industry, there was one decision, probably my first couple of months, maybe first year in the role. So, it’s very, very green. And I stopped work in this particular case, cancels part of the operation, which is specific flights for what seemed to be a very real hazard, ended up not being a real hazard.

The cost to the business was somewhere between a million and a half of those decisions. But I didn’t get fired. I got promoted not the next day, but I got promoted. It was recognized as the right choice, the right thing to do. And that speaks huge amounts if somebody is willing to take a cost in the millions because it’s the right thing to do.

Exactly. That’s exactly what I’m talking about, you know. And then the more people who share those stories and the more confidence is gained. I mean, you know, I believe that we should be aiming towards a fatality free work force. Obviously, you can’t just say it’s OK to hurt one person who wants to put their hand up for that to be their loved one. No pressure. Right. And so that those are the measures and those are the lengths that leaders and organizations need to go to.

And that, of course, the trickle-down then is that the smaller organizations see you know, that works, that’s getting people home and why these decisions might cost millions, as you know, what really costs millions and millions if we’re talking money, forget the emotional impact is an injury for sure. Right? I mean, so I think that. Always, always looking at anything that you do with regard to health and safety, whether it’s shutting it down, you know, having speakers, new safety programs, do whatever it is that you’re doing, you always have to look at it as an investment and not in it, not as an expense, 100 percent.

So, I want to close off with some thoughts. You displayed huge resilience through the experiences you’ve had. We’re now in pretty challenging times, obviously, with covid and resurgence of it at the time of recording this episode worldwide. What are some of the insights that you can share around resilience through challenging times, like what we’re going through right now?

Well, I’ve been thinking a lot about it, and I think back to losing my leg, right? I think back to actually finding out that the foot would not be saved and I would lose my leg before below the knee, which I don’t think I even mentioned in the beginning, that that that’s what the end result was. And having to figure out, can I wear high heels again? How am I going to dance? You know life is going to throw us insane curveballs.

And I think that when we’re dealing with something like the pandemic right now, I’m grateful, you know, for the challenges I’ve had in the past. And I’m grateful that I have the ability to recognize those challenges as gifts because it allows you the capability and the resilience, and the strength to tackle the next challenge in the next situation that’s, you know, adverse to what you had hoped for it to be. I’ve basically, you know, this year had to as many have had to recreate my career, get up.

And I also think, you know, and I’m not talking about it in a religious way at all, but faith, you know, faith people are doing the right thing and moving forward is something that I draw on and taking everything as I did after I had gotten hurt, literally step by step, literally one day at a time. Because if you look too far in advance, you know, it’s overwhelming. And I think that when we’re talking about safety, if a company has X amount or number of injuries and X number of fatalities, sure, having those go down to zero would be the ultimate goal.

But it’s also really important to just bite off a new piece every day, do one thing safer today. Don’t worry about changing your entire safety program and replacing every piece of safety equipment that you have for something bigger, better, newer. You know, chances are great if we’re using our gut and our brain and our heart thinking about the people at home, actually taking the knowledge that we have and putting it to good work, and trusting our instincts. You know, we’ve got the tools we need to make the safer decisions each and every day, whether that be taking a second glance around your car, making sure that the snow is off the top.

If you live in a place where there’s snow, which I do, you know, there are so many little things that we can do to make moving forward and being better manageable. And every time you see the payoff with these little decisions, you don’t even realize it. But all of a sudden, here you’ve got a big result, right? You know.

Absolutely. So, Candace, I really appreciate you coming on the show, sharing your insights. You’ve had an incredible story, but you’re fighting an incredibly good fight. And I appreciate what you’re doing on that front. You speak to a lot of organizations about safety and speaking up. If somebody is interested in having you speak either at their leadership teams or with them with the frontline team members, how can they get in touch with you all?

They can just look me up. Candice Carnahan Dotcom is my website. I always say I could just pickaninnies with one-legged, and I will pop right up there if you can’t spell my last. And I’m doing, you know; I’m making the moves to do things now. Virtual reality and online streaming, of course, when it’s safe, still traveling in person and looking forward to getting back to that. So, I really hope, you know, I think a lot of people now have gotten used to the fact maybe they are more comfortable with the notion that we have to go ahead and talk about things other than the pandemic, all the things that were still an issue and still needed to be focused on before this happened still exist.

And I think in twenty, twenty-one, we realize now we can actually stay connected. Like, look at us. You know, we don’t need to be in person when we can’t be, but we can still impact each other. We can still share stories and, you know, make the world a better, safer place to be in.

Excellent. Well, thank you, Candace.

Thank you so much, Eric. This has been great.

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

Candace Carnahan, Safety Advocate

With wisdom and wit, Candace presents a new way to think about safety. Through the power of stories, she demonstrates how to use your voice – to see safety as an opportunity not just an obligation. Having experienced a traumatic injury at the age of 21, Candace knows too well the impact it has not only on the worker, but also on everyone around them. For 20 years Candace has been taking the stage sharing stories to companies of all sizes – and already more than half a million people have been moved by her personal experience of injury, resilience, and strength. The way she weaves safety seamlessly into storytelling that is relatable and memorable is what resonates and provokes real change in attitude and action. Candace lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and is a frequent traveller to clients in the manufacturing, transportation, energy, and production industries. 

For More Information: https://candacecarnahan.com/

 

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