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Bringing Human Factors to Life with Marty Ohme

Bringing Human Factors to Life with Marty Ohme

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There’s a safety decision behind every chain of events. We invite you to join us for a captivating episode of The Safety Guru featuring Marty Ohme, a former helicopter pilot in the U.S. Navy and current System Safety Engineer. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain from Marty’s extensive expertise and insights on system factors, organizational learning and safety culture, and effective risk management to mitigate future risks. Learn from the best practices of the U.S. Navy, as Marty brings human factors to life with real-world examples that can make a difference in your organization.

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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 safety guru, public speaker and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi, and welcome to the Safety Guru. Today, I’m very excited to have with me, Marty Ohme. He’s a retired naval aviator, also a system safety engineer. He’s got some great stories he’s going to share with us today around human factors, organizational learning. Let’s get into it. Marty, welcome to the show.

Thank you. I appreciate the opportunity to spend some time with you and share some interesting stuff with your audience.

Yeah. Let’s start maybe with your background and your story in the Navy.

Sure. I graduated from the United States Naval Academy with a bachelor’s in aerospace engineering. I’ve been fascinated with flight and things that fly since a very young age, so that lined up nicely for that. I went on to fly the H-46 Delta and the MH60 Sierra to give your audience an idea of what that looks like. The H-46 was flown for many, many years by the Marine Corps and the Navy. It looks like a small Chinook, the tandem motor helicopter. Then the MH-60 Sierra is basically a Black Hawk painted gray. There are some other differences But both aircraft were used for missions primarily for logistics and search and rescue. Then we did a little bit of special operations support. There’s a lot more of that going on now since I retired than I personally did. Then I also had time as a flight instructor at our helicopter flight school down in Florida. After my time as an instructor, I went on to be an Airbus on one of our smaller amphibians’ ships. Most people think of the Airbus on the big aircraft carrier. This is a couple of steps down from that, but it’s a specialty for helicopter pilots as part of our career. Later on, I went to Embry-Rural Aeronautical University, and they like to call it the Harvard of the Skies to get a master’s in aviation safety and aviation management. That was a prelude for me to go to what is now the Naval Safety Command, where I wrapped up my Navy career. I served as an operational risk management program manager and supported a program called the Culture Workshop, where we went to two individual commands and talk to them about risk management and the culture that they had there in their commands. Since retirement from the Navy, I work as a system safety engineer at APT We do system, software, and explosive safety. If you want to figure out and understand what that means, the easiest way to look at it is we’re at the very top of the hierarchy of controls at the design level. We sit with the engineers, and we work with them to design the things out or minimize the risk and the hazards within a design. You can do that with hardware, you can do that with software. And then explosives is a side to that. I don’t personally work in the explosives division, but we have a lot of work that goes on there for those things.

That’s Marty in a nutshell.

Well, glad to have you on the show. Tell me a little bit about organizational culture. We’re going to get into Swiss cheese and some of the learning components, but culture is a key component of learning.

Absolutely. So military services, whatever country, whatever environment, they’re all high-risk environments.

Absolutely. Specific to the Navy, my background, if somebody’s hurt far out at sea, it could be days to reach high-level care. It’s obviously improved over time with the capabilities of helicopters and other aircraft, but you may be stuck on that ship for an awfully long time before you can get to a high level of care. That in and of itself breeds a culture of safety. You don’t want people getting hurt out at sea because of the consequences of that. When I say culture of safety, in this case, a lot of people hear culture, and they think about language like English or Spanish or French or whatever the case may be. What food people eat, what clothes they wear, those kinds of things. Here, what we mean is how things get done around here. There’s processes and procedures, how people approach things, and the general idea. In fact, the US Navy is in the middle of launching a campaign called What Right Looks Like in order to try to focus people in on making sure they’re doing the right kinds of things. Something that’s been around the Navy for a long time and is specific to safety is using the word mishap instead of accident.

Sure. Because in just general conversation, most people will think, well, accidents happen? Really, we want a culture where we think of things as mishaps and that mishaps are preventable. We really want to focus people on thinking how to avoid the mishap to begin with and reduce that risk that’s produced by all the hazards in that high-risk environment.

In an environment like the Navy, it’s incredibly important to get us tight. You talked about what right looks like. But you’ve got a lot of very young people joining a very young age who can make very critical decisions at the other end of the world without necessarily having the ability to ring the President for advice and guidance at every call that happens. But tough decisions can happen at any given point in time. Tell me a little bit about how that gets instilled.

Sure. Organizations have to learn, and they have to learn from mistakes. These high-risk environments, you have to… When something goes wrong, because it will, you need to ask yourself what went wrong and why. In these kinds of environments, and you think about it, then that’s what leads to a mishap investigation. Then in order to do that learning, you have to really learn. You’ve got to apply the lessons that came out of those investigations. Then that means you have to have good records of those mishaps. I mentioned the naval safety command. That’s part of the responsibility of naval safety command is to keep those records and make them useful to the fleet.

Sure. We’ve just touched a little bit on building a culture of learning, how the Navy does it. Let’s talk a little bit about Swiss cheese. We’ve touched on Swiss cheese a few times on the podcast, so most listeners are probably familiar with it, but I think it’s worthwhile to have a good refresh on it.

Absolutely. As I mentioned about having good records, if the records aren’t organized well or structured in a way to make them effective, then it’s going to be very difficult to apply those lessons. As an example, if there’s a vehicular mishap, commonly referred to as a car accident, but we’re going to use the mishap virology here. If you have three police officers write a report on a single vehicle mishap, they’re all going to come out different, probably. One of them might say the road was wet, one of them might say there was a loss of traction, the third one might say that the driver was going too fast. It’s a lot more difficult to analyze the aggregated mishap data if every investigator uses different terms and different approach. This is where Swiss cheese comes into play, and it’s the follow-on. The follow-on works. Dr. James Risen provided a construct that you can use to organize mishap reporting with the Swiss cheese model. In his model, the slices of cheese represent barriers to mishaps. He also identified that there are holes in the cheese that represent the holes in your barriers. Then he labeled them as latent or active failures.

Latent failures are existing, maybe persistent conditions in the environment, and active failures are usually something that’s done by a person, typically at the end. His model has four layers of cheese, three with latent failures, and one with active failures. So, no barriers, perfect. If we look at our vehicle mishap in that way, if you start at the bottom, let’s say it’s a delivery driver. They’ve committed an unsafe act by speeding.

Sure.

Why did they do that? Well, in our scenario, he needs a delivery performance bonus to pay hospital bills It’s because he has a newborn baby. He’s got this existing precondition to an unsafe act. Sure. Well, prior to him going out for the day, his supervisor looks at his delivery plan, but he didn’t really do a good job reviewing it and see that it was unrealistic. Sure. The thing is that the supervisor sees unrealistic delivery plans every day. It’s ingrained in him that this is normal. All these people are trying to execute unreasonable plans because the company pay is generally low and they give bonuses for meeting the targets for a number of deliveries per day. The company, as an organization, has set a condition to encourage people to have unrealistic plans, which the supervisor sees every day and just passes it off as everybody does it. Then we roll down and we have this precondition of, I need a bonus because I have bills to pay. This is the way that the Swiss cheese model is constructed. A little bit later on, Dr. Chapelle and Wegman developed the human factors analysis and classification system or HFACs.

They did that by taking reasons for slice of cheese, and they named the holes in the cheese, the holes in the barriers, after they studied mishap reports from naval aviation.

Tell me about some of those labels that they identified.

Some specific ones that they came up with are things like there was a lack of discipline, so it was an extreme violation due to lack of discipline. Sure. That would be at the act level. A precondition might be that someone was distracted, for example. Sure. A supervisory hole would be that there was not adequate training provided to the individual who was involved in the mishap. Then overall organizational culture, it might just be that there’s an attitude there that allows for unsafe tasks to be done. That sets everything up and through all the barriers to put our individuals, sets them up for failure and the mishap. We You see that in our delivery driver rec example where there’s all decisions, everything at every level, there’s a human decision made. There’s a policy decision. There’s a decision made to accept all these unreasonable plans. There was a decision that, okay, I must have this bonus. Now, that one, you saw if you could argue that one back and forth, but there was also a decision made to violate the speed limit, and that’s your active one down at the bottom. Yeah.

These helped essentially a taxonomy so that there is more standardization, if I’m hearing you correctly, in terms of incident investigations and classifications of learnings.

That’s correct. The decisions in this stack and the Swiss cheese come together. As you’re alluding to, there’s a taxonomy. So, Chapelle and Wegman, after, I think it was 80 mishaps in naval aviation that they were able to assign standardized labels. Those are the labels that became the names for the holes in the cheese. Once they put it in that taxonomy, they found 80% of the mishaps involved a human factor of some sort. I personally argue that there’s a human factor at every level, even if you go back and look something like United Flight 232 that crashed in Sioux City, Iowa, it all rolled back even to where there was a flaw in the raw metal that was used to machine the turban blade that ultimately failed. Sure. Did they make a decision not to do certain inspection on that block of metal before, and then it just keeps going down the way. There’s a decision in every chain of events.

Also, no redundancy in terms of the hydraulics, from what I remember in that incident.

Right. A design decision.

A design decision, exactly. That’s a great one. I like to use that as an example for many things, but we won’t pull that thread too hard today. But all these human factors, all these decisions, this is why in the US, the Department of Defense, uses HVACs as a construct for mishap and reporting so that aids in organizing the mishap reporting and the data so we can learn from our mistakes. It makes actionable data. There are other systems that also have taxonomies. Maritime Cyprus collects data. I ran across it when I was preparing for something else. Their number one, near miss, shows situational awareness as a factor in those things.

Situational awareness is a tough one to change and to drive.

It is. It’s a lot of training and a lot of tools and those kinds of things. I bought a new vehicle recently, and it likes to tell me to put the brakes on because thinks I’m going to hit something because it thinks it’s more aware than I am. It did it to me this morning, as a matter of fact. But it can be an interesting challenge.

Yes. Okay. Let’s go through some examples. I know when we talked about You had a couple of really interesting ones, Avianca, Aero Peru. Maybe let’s go through some of those examples of human factors at play and how they translate into an incidence from an aviation standpoint.

Sure. Avianca Flight 52 was in January of 1990. The aircraft was flying up to JFK out of Medellín, Colombia. The air crew received their information from dispatch about weather and other conditions as they were getting ready to go out on their flight. The problem was dispatch gave them weather information that was 9 to 10 hours old. Also, they did not have the information that showed there was a widespread storm that was causing bad conditions through a lot of the up and down, a lot of the East Coast. The other part was dispatch there had a standard alternate they built for JFK, which was Boston, Logan. Boston, Logan had just as bad a condition as JFK. They weren’t going to be able to use that in ultra, but they didn’t check. Then the air crew didn’t check either. They didn’t confirm how old the forecast was. They didn’t do any of those things. They launched on their flight with the fuel that was calculated to be necessary for that flight. For those who are not in the aviation world, when you’re calculating your fuel for a flight, you got to be able to get to your destination, what you think you need for your destination, what you’re going to need to get from there to your alternate in case you can’t get to your destination.

Then there’s a buffer that’s put-on top of that. Depending on what rule you’re using, it could be time, it could be percentage. It just depends on what rules you’re operating under and what aircraft you’re in. They have X amount of fuel. They launch out on their flight where they had 158 people on board. They get up there, and because of the weather, things are backed up JFK all the way up the East Coast as well. They can put in a hole near Virginia for quite some time. Then they get put in a hole when they get closer to JFK. They tried to get in a JFK, and they had a missed approach. They couldn’t see the runway when they did the approach and they had to go around. To go back into holding. The captain, understandably, is starting to become concerned about their fuel state. Sure. He’s asking the co-pilot if he has communicated to air traffic control what their fuel situation is. The co-pilot says, yes, I have. Well, the nuance here is that the international language of aviation is English, and the captain didn’t speak English. Co-captain did, and that met the requirement of one of them to be able to speak English to communicate with the air traffic control, but the captain didn’t know exactly what the co-pilot was telling air traffic control.

Well, that becomes a problem when the co-pilot was not using standard language. He was saying things like, hey, we’re getting low on fuel. That’s not the standard language that needs to be used. Correct. You have two phrases. You have minimum fuel, which indicates to air traffic control that you can accept no unnecessary delays. He never said minimum fuel. When they got even lower on fuel, he never used the word emergency. So, air traffic control did not know how dire the situation was. They It did offer them an opportunity to go to their alternate at some point, but by then they were so low on fuel, they couldn’t even make it to their alternate, even though Boston, the weather was too low there anyway for them to get in. Ultimately, they had another missed approach. They were coming around to try one more time, and they actually ran out of fuel. They ran the fuel tanks nearly dry on approach, and they crashed the aircraft in Cove Neck, New York.

Wow.

Here we have an aircraft, and you would think that there would be… There’s almost no reason for an aircraft to run out of fuel in flight, especially an eyeliner. But with these conditions that were set, they did. Just as an aside, there were 85 survivors out of the 158, and a lot of that had to do with the fact that there was no fire.

Because there’s no fuel to burn.

Because there’s no fuel to burn. I understand this It had a positive impact on what materials were used in aircraft later on, specifically cushions and stuff like that that don’t produce the toxic fumes when they burn because they could show that people could survive the impact. It was the fire and the fumes that were killed. That’s just an aside. That’s the overview. If we back up a little bit and talk about what human factors rolled into play here. Dispatch had this culture. It was an organizational culture. It wasn’t like it. Sure. They used as a general policy to use Boston, Logan as the alternate for JFK. That was just the standard. They didn’t even check. They may or may not have been trained properly on how to check the weather and make sure that it was adequate for either for an aircraft to get into its primary destination or to its alternate, because the forecast clearly showed that the conditions were too poor for the aircraft to shoot those approaches. That’s an organizational level failure, and you can look at that as being that’s one slice of cheese. If we start going a little bit further down without trying to look at every aspect of it, if we look at what the pilots did, they didn’t check the weather.

They just depended on dispatch and assumed it was correct. Then once they started getting into this situation that they were in, there was communication in the cockpit. That was good, except it was inadequate. More importantly, the pilot couldn’t speak, was the only one in the cockpit that could speak English, so the captain didn’t have full situational awareness, which we mentioned a moment ago. Then he failed to use the proper terminology. That was a specific failure on his part. I don’t know. We can’t say if that was because he didn’t want to admit they were… If he didn’t want to declare an emergency because he was embarrassed, which is possible. He didn’t want to have to answer the captain, perhaps. If you had declared an emergency and ATC comes back and ask them later, why did you declare an emergency? Why didn’t you just tell us this stuff earlier? We don’t have those answers. Unfortunately, those two gentlemen didn’t survive the crash. But these are all things that can roll into a roll into that. When you break it down into HVACs, these preconditions, maybe he was embarrassed, maybe he felt that there was a power dynamic in the cockpit that he couldn’t admit making a mistake to the captain.

Then he had the active failure not using the correct language with ATC, the standard air traffic control language.

It feels as some CRM elements, some psychological safety, probably at play because you would expect the co-pilot to at least ask, do you want me to declare an emergency or something along those lines. For seek clarity if you’re unsure.

Absolutely. That’s a really interesting one to me. I use it as an example with some regularity when I’m talking about these kinds of things.

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How about Aero Peru? Because I think the Avianca one is a phenomenal, really interesting one. Actually, one I haven’t touched on much before. So, it’s a great example of multiple levels of failure. How about Aero Peru?

Aero Peru is another one that’s really interesting. It had a unique problem. So, the short version, just to give an overview of the flight like we did with Avianca, Aero Peru was flying from Miami, and they were ultimately headed to Chile, but they had a stopover. They had stopovers in Ecuador and Peru. During one of those stopovers, they landed during the day, and then the plane was scheduled to take off at night. During that interim time, the ground crew washed the aircraft and polished it. Then the aircraft launched. They got up a couple of hundred feet off the runway Anyway, and the air crew noticed that there was a problem with air speed and altimeter. It wasn’t reading correctly. Well, they were already in the air. You can’t really get back on the ground at that point. You’re already in the air. They flew out and they’re out over the Pacific, and they get up into the cloud. Now they’re flying on instruments, so you don’t have any outside reference out there. Just even if it was clear, flying over the water at night is a very dark place. They got out there, they’re flying on instruments.

Their attitude indication is correct, but they know their altimeter is not reading right, the airspeed is not reading right. There’s another instrument in the cockpit called vertical speed indicator. It also operates off air pressure, just like your altimeter and your airspeed indicator.

Sure.

They’re very confused. To their credit, they are aviating. In the aviation world, we say, Aviate, navigate, communicate. Because if you stop aviating, stop flying the aircraft, you’re going to crash. To their credit, they aviated, They navigated, they stayed out over the water to make sure that they wouldn’t hit anything because they just didn’t know how high they were. Then they started talking to air traffic control. They’re very confused by all this that’s going on. There is on YouTube at least one video where you can listen to the cockpit recording, and then they’ll show you what else is going on in the cockpit. We don’t have the video, but they represent it electronically so you can see it. It’s interesting to listen to the actual audio because then hear the confusion and the attempts to make decisions and determine what’s going on. Ultimately, they get out over the water. They know these things are not right. They are asking air traffic control, hey, can you tell us our altitude? Because our instruments are not right. The problem with that is that the altimeter tells a box in the aircraft called the transponder. I sometimes call it the Marco Polo box when I explain it to people because the radar from the air traffic control sends out a ping like a Marco, and then the box comes back with a Polo.

But the Polo is a number that’s been assigned, so they know who the aircraft is on radar and the altitude. Well, the altimeter feeds the altitude to the transponder, so air traffic control can only tell the aircraft what the air altimeter already says. But that didn’t occur to anybody, and they’re under high stress, and this is a unique one. So, it’s just as an aside, my only real criticism of the air crew is you have a general idea of what power settings you need and what attitude you need for things, so they didn’t really seem to stick to that. But we all have to remember that when we’re looking at these, we’re Monday morning, quarterbacking them. I don’t ding them too hard. At any rate, long story short, they’re trying to figure out how to get turned around and go back. They’re trying to figure out what’s going on. Ultimately, they start getting overspeed indications warnings from the aircraft that’s telling them they’re going too fast, and they’re getting stall warnings from the aircraft.

At the same time?

At the same time. They don’t know if they’re going too fast or too slow. Overspeed is based on air pressure, which obviously all their air pressure instruments are not working properly. But stall warning is a totally separate instrument. It looks like a weathervane. If you walk onto aircraft at the airport today across the ramp, you may see the little weather looking thing up near the nose. That’s what is there for us for stall warning. They actually were stalling because they were trying to figure out how to get down and slow down since they were getting altitude and speed indications that were higher and faster than they wanted. Their radar altimeter, which again does not work, which also does not work on air pressure. It actually sends a radar signal down, was telling them they were low. They were getting, I’m high, I’m low, I’m slow, I’m fast. All this information coming at them.

That would be horribly confusing at the same time.

Horribly confusing, and there’s alarms going on off in the cockpit that are going to overwhelm your senses. There was a lot going on in the cockpit. Ultimately, they flew the aircraft into the water and there were no survivors. What happened here? When they were washing the aircraft, in order to keep water and polish out of the ports called the static ports that measure the air pressure at the altitude where the aircraft is at that time, had been covered with duct tape. Then the maintenance person failed to take the duct tape off. They forgot. Then when the supervisor came through, they didn’t see the duct tape either because that part of the aircraft, it looks like bare metal, so it’s silver. So, the gray or silver duct tape against the server, they didn’t see it. The pilots did not see it when they primly to the aircraft. So, when the aircraft When it took off, those ports were sealed, and the aircraft was not able to get correct air pressure sensing. Now we have to ask, how in the world did this Sure. Right. If you want to put it in a stag, start looking at slices of cheese, we have to ask these questions.

Why was he using duct tape? Was it because they didn’t have the proper Plug, which would have had a remove before flight banner on it? Was it they didn’t have it, or was it just too much trouble to go get it because they have to check it out and check it back in? Was this normal? Did they do this all the time? Did the supervisor know that and either not care or, hey, this is how we get it done around here. That’s a cultural piece. Sure.

At least use duct tape that’s flashing red or something.

Something. When you start looking at it in those terms, you have the, Is there a culture? Was there a lack of resources? Was there not adequate training? They didn’t know they shouldn’t use duct tape. It just seemed like the thing to Then the supervisor, did he know they were using duct tape? If he did, and it was for one of these other reasons, like resources or whatever the case may be, why didn’t he look carefully to make sure the duct tape wasn’t there because he knew they were using it? Did the air crew know that that’s how they were covering the static ports? Then when you get into the stuff with the air crew, they tried to do the right things. As we talked about, it was a very confusing set of circumstances. Like I said, standard attitudes and power settings would have been helpful. This is how these things stack up and how those holes line in the cheese to give you that straight path for a mishap to occur. It’s just a pretty interesting example of it.  

And multiple points of failure that had to align.

Absolutely.

Because assuming the duct tape was not used just that one time, this probably many times where it was used before and didn’t cause an issue because they removed it prior.

Correct. Correct.

Fastening example. So, the last one I think you’re going to touch on is around non-aviation going into maritime, the Costa Concordia.

Correct. This was from 2012. A lot of people probably remember the images of Costa Concordia is rolled over. It’s rolled over on its side. It’s heavily listing. It’s run aground off an island in Italy. This one is truly human from beginning to end. No equipment failed. There was nothing wrong with the ship, anything along those lines. That’s part of the reason that it’s such a good example here. The captain or the ship’s master, depending on how you want to use it in your terminology that you’re going to use, decided he was going to… They got underway with passengers on board. He decided he wanted to do what was called a cruise by where he would sail close by an island, specifically a town on the island, so that he could show off for his friends and wave at them when he went by.

Always a great idea.

Yeah. Most dangerous words in aviation, watch this. He decided he was going to do this, and he had done it before at the same place. But there were some differences. One, the previous time it had been planned. He briefed his deck, his bridge crew, what is going to happen. They checked all the weather conditions, et cetera, et cetera. It was during the day when he did it the first time. This was at night, and he just decided on a whim as they were on their way out that he was going to do this. As they’re sailing in there, they actually hit an outcropping as they were approaching the town It ripped a big old gash down the side of the ship. I think it was about 150 or 170 feet long, if I recall correctly, or about 50 meters. That caused flooding in the ship and a power loss. Then they ended up, as you saw in the photos, and 32 people lost their lives. That’s a real brief overview. But what I want to do here is talk a little bit more about what led into We’ve talked very generally about slices of cheese in holes.

Sure. For this one, I’m going to go into a little bit more detail and use some actual HVACs codes or names for the holes and names for the slices of cheese. When you look at the at the Cruise Company itself, the attitude there seemed to be this captain was getting the job done. When that happens in an organization, somebody gets the job done is obviously has a little bit higher… They’re regarded in a better way than people that don’t necessarily get the job done. The problem comes when that individual is doing in an unsafe manner. Maybe they’re hiding some stuff about how they’re doing it. They’re doing things that are unsafe, but they’re getting away with it. You have to watch out for those things in an organization, excuse me, and for what people may be doing how they may be getting things done. At that level, he was accomplishing things. So organizationally, you have that. Then you can call it organizational or supervision in that next slice of cheese, depending on how you want to look at it. They probably didn’t provide adequate training. In the aviation world, we use simulators a lot. They’re using simulators a lot more in the maritime world now as well, and they can put an entire Bridge crew on a simulator together and practice scenarios and practice their coordination.

Well, they hadn’t had that with this crew. They failed to provide that training. This captain had an incident pulling into another port where he was accused of coming in too fast, which if you do any boating at all, you might see or might be going by a lake or whatever, you might see buys that say no wake zone. Well, the belief is that he pulled into this port too fast, created a wake, and that damaged either or equipment or ships. There weren’t any real serious consequences for him on that. So, they may have failed to identify or correct risky or unsafe practices. Sure. Then that’s, again, if they didn’t identify it, then they didn’t retrain him. Now they failed to provide the adequate training for him, failed to provide adequate training for the Bridge crew as a whole. Now we’ve hit organizational with the culture, we’ve hit supervision with the training on safe practices. Now we go into the preconditions for the next level. Complacency. He decided on a whim, essentially, that he was going to do this sail by. So didn’t check the conditions, those kinds of things. He didn’t consider the fact that it was… 

We’ll get back to that one in just a second. Let’s see. Partly because, or partly maybe because the crew didn’t have the training in one of these Bridge simulators, there was a lack of assertiveness from the crew members to him. That may have been because he was known to be very intimidating. He would yell at people when he didn’t like the information or when they told them things that weren’t correct. Rank position intimidation is one of our holes. Lack of assertion is a hole. Complacency, he didn’t think this was a big deal. And distraction, and this one’s very interesting to me personally. One, he’s on the Bridge Wing, which if you look at a ship, you usually have the enclosed Bridge. Then outside from that, you’ve got a weather area, weather deck, where you can see further out, those kinds of things. He’s standing on the Bridge Wing on the weather deck, talking to one of his friends ashore on his phone. Hey, look at us. Look at we’re coming by. Just get ready. Here we come. Then part of the distraction was there were ships guests on the Bridge Wing with him, which was a violation of policy to have guests on the Bridge Wing when they were in close proximity to shore.

And he had his girlfriend. Excuse me. His mistress. He was married and he was having an affair and had his mistress on the ship with him in violation of policy. So, he had all this distraction going on in addition to he just thought of this as no big deal. So now we’ve covered three slices of cheese, and let’s get to the last one, the ax. So, we have an extreme violation, lack of discipline, where we talked about all these preconditions, and those are examples of lack of discipline as well, where he failed to focus on what he was doing, allowed these distractions on the bridge, et cetera. And inadequate real-time risk assessment, day versus night. I checked the weather, I didn’t check the weather, et cetera. In this case, this is one where we’ve taken the codes, the names of those holes in the cheese and apply them to this specific case. There’s a whole lot of stuff with this one. There’s a reason that mishap reports are hundreds of pages long. But this one comes down to these examples of codes where he violated all these things. That was just before they actually had a problem.

It got worse after that, if you all are familiar with that case. Yeah.

Well, phenomenal story, but very applicable to other industries because there’s a lot of other industries where somebody is known for getting it done and might be doing some risky things in getting it done, just hasn’t been an event or a mishap, and people are not paying attention to those things. How did you actually get the job done? Or in the case of the driver, you’re talking about, the delivery driver, maybe he historically got it done, cutting corners, and they just decide not to look at some of those cutting corners.

Right.

Right. Festinating. So really good illustration, I think, in terms of culture, learning, and then Swiss cheese in terms of how different layers come together. Swiss cheese is not cheddar cheese. It has holes in it. It’s just a matter of those holes can line up at any given point in time. They’re existing.

Right. That’s where the latent versus active conditions may be. In the case of DOD and H-Facts, you have the organizational supervision and preconditions. Those are all your latent layers, and then your active layers, that last thing. In this case, where the extreme violations occurred in the inadequate real-time risk assessment.

I think the part I also like about Swiss Trees is it forces people to look at beyond the aviator, beyond the ship’s captain, beyond the team member in an organization that makes a mistake to the latent conditions that are linked to decisions that the organization has made over the time. These people in finance, people in HR, people in a corporate office are making decisions, not necessarily connecting to how it impacts somebody in the field. We don’t know about Aero Peru, but maybe it’s even somebody where in procurement, they forgot to buy the proper tools to do it and use what you have to because you go on to get the job done. A lot of conditions that impact other people in the organization. I think that’s also another reflection in Swiss cheese for me.

Absolutely.

Great. Any closing thoughts that you’d like to add?

Sure. Just a couple of things. Aviators are, on the whole, willing to admit their mistakes. It’s because we know that it’s a very unforgiving environment. The ocean and aviation are very unforgiving environments. As an attitude, as a culture, we want to share with others so they either don’t make the same mistake we did, or they understand how we got out of a situation. If you look at Aero Peru, I mean, seriously, has anybody else had that problem ever where there’s duct tape, I run the static ports? I don’t know, but by talking about-Never heard of them. Yeah. By sharing this story, we have the ability to help others avoid that situation in the future. That’s really the way that we do it. The second thing that’s big in aviation is we’ve always had… The way that we really made big improvements in safety in our MSAP record is by planning and talking about these things. Somewhere later, somebody came along and named this the P-bed process, planning, briefing, executing, and debrief. But we’ve been doing it for decades. You actually have a flight You may not execute to that plan specifically, but at least you have a plan to deviate from, I like to say.

Sure. Then you brief it so that everybody understands what’s going on. Then obviously you go and execute it, and you may have to make changes to it along the way. That’s fine. When you come back, let’s debrief it. Hey, we had this mission. Did we accomplish it? Did we have any problems? What did we do well? What did we not do well? So that we can improve later. That really helps in a lot of ways, in a lot of industries or situations, if you just talk about what you’re going to do to plan it out and make sure everybody understands. When you plan it, if you have the right people involved, they can come up with solutions to problems that you see in planning. They may identify a problem that you see that you can avoid in the planning stage instead of running across it in the execution stage. So that planning, briefing, executing, debriefing is a real useful thing to have out Something that can be transposed in any other industry as well in terms of really thinking through the planning.

I think your point around the voluntary reporting is huge because having been in aviation, you hear about things that people would rather not talk about. I fell asleep, things of that nature. But if you don’t know about it, you can’t do anything about it because unless the plane crashed, you would have no knowledge that both pilots fell asleep unless they went off course dramatically. Chances are nothing’s going to happen because they’re going to be on autopilot and it’s pre-programmed and all good. But if you know something’s happening, you can start understanding what are the conditions that could be driving to it.

Right. Absolutely.

Excellent. Well, Marty, thank you so much for joining me today and for sharing your story. Pretty rich, interesting, and thought-provoking story with really good examples. Thank you.

Happy to be here.

Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-suite Radio. Leave a legacy. Distinguish yourself from the past. Grow your success. Capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at execsafetycoach.com. Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.  

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Marty Ohme is an employee-owner at A-P-T Research, where he works as a System Safety Engineer. This follows a U.S. Navy career as a helicopter pilot, Air Boss aboard USS TRENTON, and program manager at what is now Naval Safety Command, among other assignments. He uses his uncommon perspective as both engineer and operator to support the development of aerospace systems and mentor young engineers. Marty holds a Bachelor of Science from the United States Naval Academy and a Master of Aeronautical Science from Emory-Riddle Aeronautical University. He may be reached through LinkedIn.

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Coming Home Safely: Advocating Safety First, Last, and Always with Dr. Lana Cormie

Coming Home Safely: Advocating Safety First, Last, and Always

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“Safety is the most important part of your job.” Tune in as Dr. Lana Cormie shares her heartfelt and moving story of navigating life after losing her husband in a workplace incident in 2018. She passionately advocates for improving safety and enhancing an intentional culture of safety in the workplace through ongoing training on the job and prioritizing the reporting of hazards, concerns, and near misses. Lana reminds us of the importance of keeping safety at the forefront and empowering team members to become safety advocates in the workplace, ensuring everyone goes home safely at the end of every workday.

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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 safety guru, public speaker and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi, and welcome to the Safety Guru. Today, I’m very excited to have with me Dr Lana Cormie, who’s joining us from Australia and who’s a safety speaker. Lana, welcome to the show. Very excited to have you with me today.

Thanks for having me along.

Absolutely. Tell me a little bit about your story.

I guess if we start from before, I feel like my life is split into two halves these days, the before and after. So, prior to 2018, I would say that I had a pretty great life with my family. I was married to Charlie, my husband, and we had two young children who at that time were one and three. And we were living on 40 acres in country Victoria, the south of Australia. And we, I guess, had bought our forever home. And it was very run down. We were working to improve it, both the house and the acreage. And I guess we had moments where we thought to ourselves, we’re pretty lucky, how great is this? We’ve got two healthy children. We’ve got this amazing place which we’d love to spend our life living in. And we were really looking forward to our future. Of course, we didn’t know that things were going to change. We had, at that time, I should say I was working as a veterinarian, working in animal welfare. Absolutely loved my job and my career. And my husband Charlie, he’d had a background working as a stockman on, I think you call them ranches in the northern part of America.

And the He was very talented stockman and horseman, but he’d later gone on to become a qualified carpenter and in fact, a registered builder. But at this time of our lives, he was working in civil construction, mainly because it gave us a regular income. So, it felt like, I guess, a safe option financially while our children were so little, and I was working part time looking after our baby. But of course, we didn’t realize it wasn’t a safe at all. And on the 21st of March 2018, Charlie went to work, and he never came home.

I’m sorry to hear that.

So, on that day, I was at work. The children were at daycare, and we had a lot of work on. So, we were busy doing surgery on animals. And I became aware through the press that there had been an incident and that the highway near to where I worked had been closed. So, we had a short conversation, which went something along the lines of, oh, I hope no one’s been badly hurt, must be a bad car accident. And then we carried on with our work. So, then A few hours later, I went off to lunch because I’d forgotten my lunch that day, and then came back in the driveway at work. And I looked up and there was this helicopter hovering in the sky. And I guess that helicopter signifies the end of life as I knew it. And it was not long after that we discovered through social media that there had been an incident on a work site nearby, that one man was dead and another was injured and fighting for his life, and they were still trying to rescue him. Now Charlie, we found out not long later was the man who had died.

So, my nurse and I drove around to the roadblock to speak to the police officers because I hadn’t been able to get hold of Charlie on the phone. Sure. And I couldn’t get any information through the company that he worked for. So, we went around to where they had blocked the highway, and the police officer informed me that it was my husband who had been killed. The other fellow, his family had also not been notified and had done a similar thing at the at the same time. His name was Jack. He was buried up to his neck with just his head and one arm free. And unfortunately, he never got the opportunity to speak to his family because He was flown to Melbourne, went through multiple surgeries and died in hospital the following day.

It’s horrible.

Yeah, it was horrible. Yeah, look, it has been terrible. I suppose I It’s probably obvious to say perhaps that the worst part was having to tell our children and having to drive to daycare and pick them up and be in what felt, I guess, a little bit like I was in a movie or some nightmarish out-of-body experience where there was some other lady whose husband had died and she was now having to go and pick up her children who now had a dead father. It was really a situation where I was in so much shock that I picked up these children with my mom who had come to help me and took them home and really didn’t know what to do next. So, it wasn’t until later that evening that the police turned up at our house, which was presumably our notification, which you can imagine was far too late. And we, I guess started to, I don’t know if it really sunk in by that point, really, what had happened. And it wasn’t until early the next morning when my children woke up that I had to tell them that their dad had died and that he was never coming home. And that was the worst thing I’ve ever had to do.

No doubt. Tell me a little bit more about what transpired in the work site because you thought it was a safer environment. What was happening in that work site?

I’m a little bit limited with how much detail I can provide here because whilst there has already been a court case and a prosecution, the case is still sitting with the coroner. However, what I can say is it was a deep trenching job, so they were digging trenches to lay sewer to round about the four meters in-depth. And of course, that work requires a lot of safety practices to be followed. There’s a lot of rules and regulations which need to be adhered to. For sure. And on this day, two men died. So, I think that probably tells you about where that was at.

So, the precautions that you normally would need to have because there’s a high risk in an environment like this, that the sides collapse seemingly weren’t present. When you speak about the incident, because you regularly speak about safety and talk about the importance of safety. What are some of the themes that emerge from your experience?

I think a big one is really about near misses. It took a long time for us to understand much detail about really what had happened to Charlie and Jack. In fact, only recently, the coroner found out some information which to her indicated that they were not in the trench at the time of the collapse. So, you can understand how distressing it all these years was not to really understand what had Sure. But certainly, it became clear a lot earlier on that there were some near misses that, I guess, were an opportunity, an opportunity that in this case didn’t result in safety systems being improved. So that’s something that I often talk about when I speak about this to companies, which is really that a near miss is a gift. And if you see that miss and you take the opportunity to improve your safety systems, you have a look at your systems of work, see what’s working, what isn’t, and rectify that. It’s not overstating it to say that that could be the difference between life and death in your workplace.

A hundred %. It’s a huge lever to tap into that so many organizations miss. Issues don’t get reported, they don’t get addressed. And organizations don’t drive the right follow through, which is a huge component. So really a gift when you’ve got those learnings.

Yeah, that’s right. I guess if you’re at the point of having a near miss, you’re a huge component. So, it’s really a gift when you’ve got those learnings. Yeah, that’s right. I guess if you’re at the point of having a near miss, you’re really close to having a catastrophic event. And I think reporting is just so key and not just of near misses, but obviously of hazards and concerns in the workplace every day, all day. It needs to be kept front of mind. And I guess that’s another reason why I’ve taken the opportunity to speak about my experience to workers, to employers, to managers, all of them, because keeping this front of mind is absolutely the key, because we get so tied up with all the pressures on us. We’ve got KPIs to follow. We’ve got production targets to meet. We have financial issues. There might be things happening at home. There’s so much going on in our mind, that often safety falls down the level of priorities, I suppose. And it can’t be that way. It must be number one every day. And it must be the first thing that we do before we think about anything else to do with our work.

So, I always say that safety is the most important part of your job. And that is to make sure you get home at the end of the day. It doesn’t matter how great you are at your job, how much money you’re making, how great your team is, any of Those factors if you’re not alive and if you’re not home at the end of the day. So, it has to be number one. But it’s easy for it to sometimes not be at the forefront of our minds.

It’s a huge It’s a huge challenge for it to keep always being at the forefront every given moment. It’s very easy to get sidetracked by something else or think, this might not happen to me. This whole element of keeping front row center. I remember I worked with somebody who says, if you put a card in front of your head and that’s remembering about safety, it’s so easy for it to slip to the back of your mind as you’re doing the work because you’re in a zone, you’re delivering. How do you bring that card to the front of your mind to always remember that this is the most critical thing right now for every decision I’m making?

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Yeah, it’s absolutely a challenge that us as individuals, but also as organizations need to tackle. Part of that, I guess, is on management to be absolutely vigilant, zero tolerance for unsafe practices, really encouraging people to report and to be thinking about things all the time. It’s also about training. I mean, we don’t know what we don’t know. So not just the initial training, but ongoing training. I didn’t know much about safety, even though I was working in my own workplace. I wasn’t really up to speed with the Occupational Health and Safety I didn’t really understand what that should look like in practice in the workplace. And I think that’s a common experience. I certainly believe that if Charlie and Jack would have had more knowledge or even if I’d had more knowledge, I would have also picked up that something wasn’t right. But certainly, if the workers don’t have the knowledge, they can’t protect themselves. They also aren’t well placed to keep bringing concerns to the employer, which, of course, is so key because managers can’t be everywhere. They do rely on their teams to say, I’ve got a concern, or I’ve seen something. Having our workers really well trained to recognize hazards That’s all part of the picture.

But the other thing I think that’s really this is part of the reason why I speak and go and discuss these issues and do presentations is that I think sometimes rules and processes and numbers, they don’t stick that well in our mind. And so, it can be really hard work to keep maintaining that. And it is hard work. It’s a central but what I’ve discovered is that stories, we’re good at remembering stories.

Yes.

And not only does hearing a personal story of tragedy in the workplace help to wake us up a bit, that this could happen to me, this could happen in my workplace, this happens to normal people like Lana, like Charlie, like their family. There’s that. It’s the fact that we can identify that it’s not some random person on the news. It’s a real person. But it’s also, and this is what I hope happens, is that if we have a story that links the rules with our emotions and our sense of self, then we’re more likely to carry that story with us in our memory. And not only is that a sense that I have, it’s also something that’s been proven, that stories are something we remember. Absolutely. So, I hope that in the work that I do now, I can be part of that picture, a small part of improving the safety in the workplaces which I speak to.

Sure. I know when we first connected, one of the themes you talked about was how recognizing hazards is not really part of how our brain functions. So, tell me more about that.

I’ve spent six years now and I’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about these things and certainly speaking to some really interesting people, some of those working in universities and doing studies on such matters. And I always wondered, how could they not see it? How could they not see that they were in danger? But of course, they didn’t. And they didn’t do anything that they felt was dangerous or, in fact, that most of us would think was unsafe. Unfortunately, the systems weren’t in place to prevent something from happening. But what I’m trying to say is that we’ve evolved into this modern world where we now build skyscrapers. We go to work, we dig trenches, we do all sorts of activities. But really, our brains are still cave people. And I’ve had some interesting discussions with some researchers on this that we’re not well-designed to recognize hazards. We’re not well designed to understand danger, particularly if we’re exposed to it on a regular basis. So, if we see something and we think it’s dangerous, Initially, then over time we become desensitized. And as a cave person, we would understand that, okay, initially I was a bit worried about that barrier on that bush.

Now we’ve tried it. It hasn’t made anyone sick. Now it’s a good source of nutrition. We’re not concerned about that anymore. And we had to have that understanding that an exposure that didn’t result in in anything of concern was then something safe to interact with. And of course, as humans living in our life, we can’t run around thinking that we’re in danger all the time or we just wouldn’t function at all. We’d be hyper stressed. We would be. But if we’re in the workplace, of course, this works against us a bit because there are hazards. Sometimes we work in very high-risk environments, and we need to have our mind turned on to recognize those hazards all the time because they could be life threatening. That doesn’t matter whether we see them every day and nothing’s happened yet. It still could progress to an injury or a fatality. And that’s not what we want. So, it’s not really our fault as humans that we’re not great at this. That’s why we need training. That’s why we need to have ongoing processes in place that keep it front of mind, that ensure we’re reporting and that we’re rectifying things as we go along.

I think that’s a really important piece because our brain will naturally start accepting that certain risks are okay. It’s how do we bring a front row center always reflecting the same as people who are working in high-risk professions will often have the retention on the highest risk task. If you’re working next to an electrical conduit and it’s energized, you may be very cautious of the work you’re doing there. But then suddenly driving doesn’t seem dangerous. Or other functions that you may be doing that are not as high risk may also not appear as dangerous, but there’s still danger associated with it. There’s a lot of little tricks where we can get into a lull sense of security around the hazards in front of us. That’s really even the peer reinforcement. But something like trenches, you mentioned, before I got into the safety space, it’s not something I kept thinking about, oh, this is a big risk. Because when you grow up, it’s not something you’re thinking of, front row center. That’s the education when you come on a job site. When you talked about near misses, to me, a big component is also how do you reframe that this is a positive?

Because you talked about the gift, but if you don’t feel psychologically safe to bring it up if people minimize it. I had somebody was sharing a podcast that he had highlighted a risk, and he had been told, are you a man or are you a mouse? That’s going to precondition you to never highlight risks or never highlight near misses.

Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. It’s not something that comes naturally to us, is it? To feel, to put up our hand and raise an issue all the time, particularly if that’s going to slow the job down or certainly if it’s going to have some negative response. And I think that is Absolutely key. And that’s where the culture of a company and their response to reporting is absolutely integral, particularly to get that culture started. You need to be actually pushing people all the time. Report, report, report. And certainly not even having the remotest level of negativity when that happens and in fact, actively encouraging it.

Encouraging the new misreporting, but also encouraging somebody stopping work if they see something unsafe, because that decision to say, I’m going to stop work is also a very tough one. People will often say, you’re allowed to stop work. But having stopped work early on in my career, knowing the financial consequence of stopping work, which was not a small number, it was a five with lots of zeros after, You start really rethinking, especially when the next day you discover that what you thought was the right reason to stop work actually wasn’t a dangerous case. It becomes very… You really think two times, three times, 10 times before pull the plug. And that needs to be reframed.

Yeah, I completely agree. I honestly, I don’t think that a lot of work, and this comes back to training, a lot of workers actually realize that they can stop work for a safety issue and that that’s protected in the law, that right to do so. But also, as you were saying that something else came to mind, which is that I had a conversation not long ago with actually an OHS manager. And after listening to my talk and hearing my story, he came up to me and he said that he had had times quite recently where he was exactly as you say, really unsure about stopping a job because of a safety concern that he had. And he was the manager. But of course, he’s got pressures above and below. And he was really unsure about that. And one of the outcomes of listening to my story for him was that he felt that made him feel more confident in making that decision. That in his mind it made him feel the pressure to do the right, the safe thing is greater than the pressure, the external pressures of the job, the work, the money.

What might my manager say? What if it doesn’t end up being unsafe in the end? All those things, I guess, reduced in his mind because the story was something that he felt lifted up his safety concern and made him feel justified in doing his job and doing it well.

I think, hopefully, stories like this reinforce it but it’s also the response of leaders. I know when I made that decision, then the next day, it was discovered with new facts that it was the wrong call to make. But based on everything I knew when I made the decision, it felt like the only right thing to Like you said, you’re lucky if it’s a legislator requirement. In some cases, it’s not. It’s a company requirement. But what really made the difference is the COO flew down the next day, even if I’d made the wrong decision to say I had made the right decision and to give me a pat on the back. That reinforces as a signal saying that’s more valuable to me versus making the right call. It was the right choice to make sure people were safe.

Yeah, absolutely. That’s the response that you’d like to see from your upper management.

A culture we’d love to roll out through all workplaces, I think. But it’s also a reflection what do you do as a senior leader when something like this happens? I’ve seen in some organizations, in this case, he literally flew down and not reinforce it. But I’ve seen in other organizations where they celebrate publicly those instances and really reinforce that this is a desired value. Because it’s one thing to say it’s legally allowed, it’s a different thing to actually feel you can actually pull the plug.

Yeah. I I think that comes back to our psychology discussion that as humans, with our brains that we have, we need to be constantly encouraged in a certain direction. And it doesn’t take much to end up sitting not saying anything. It can be scary, even in a good company, to have to stand up and say, I don’t feel safe, or I don’t think this is a safe practice or indeed to stop work. It’s quite a scary prospect for most people. But I think it comes back right to the beginning. Before you get anywhere near an incident or a near miss or a serious concern, that day to day conversation around hazards, about risks, about the right way to do things and educating your workforce. It’s a big task, but like I say, It’s the main one, because if we can’t do that bit right, there’s no point doing the rest.

Correct. So, Lana, thank you very much for sharing your story with audiences across Australia and around the world. If somebody wants to get in touch with you to have you share your story with them, again, like you said, the power of storytelling is huge. In this element of we remember those stories and they’re memorable, and they can be the little catalyst to elevate a decision to where we want it to be, how can somebody get in touch with you?

Yeah, sure. So, as you said, I do face to face talks in the Southern part of Australia, but also do online talks both nationally and internationally. So, if anyone was interested in having this as part of their work to improve safety in their workplace, I can be contacted through CNBSafe and their website, cnbsafe.com.au.

Excellent. Well, thank you very much, Lana, for joining me today and for sharing a story with our audience.

Thank you so much for having me.

Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-suite Radio. Leave a legacy. Distinguish yourself from the past. Grow your success. Capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at execsafetycoach.com. Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.  

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Dr. Lana Cormie and her two children are navigating life without a husband and father as a result of a workplace incident. Lana was at work when her staff saw the rescue helicopter hovering over a nearby construction site. She didn’t think much about it until she called her husband Charlie on her lunch break and he didn’t answer. The helicopter was there for her husband and a workmate who were fatally injured in a workplace incident.

She had been a happy mum, wife and vet who, like most people, was blissfully unaware of what happens when a loved one doesn’t come home. Her life changed dramatically from that day forward.

Lana has become a passionate advocate for safer workplaces, campaigning for better policies and improved legislation for workplace safety. Lana now shares her life experiences in an effort to help improve safety and educate employees and employers on the importance of a safe workplace.

Lana believes by sharing her lived experience she can influence safety cultures and that the most important part of work is to go home at the end of the day.

For more information: https://cnbsafe.com.au/lana-cormie/

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Championing Safety in Everyday Decisions with Brandon Schroeder

Championing Safety in Everyday Decisions

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One moment can change your life. Join us as Brandon Schroeder, a motivational safety speaker for over a decade, shares his candid and inspirational story of overcoming physical and mental barriers that resulted from a serious workplace injury in 2011. Brandon’s uplifting message encourages everyone to avoid shortcuts on the job and to work together as a team to champion safety in everyday decisions. Tune in now to hear Brandon’s powerful journey!

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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 safety guru, public speaker, and author. Are you ready to leave a safety legacy? Your legacy success story begins now.

Hi, and welcome to the safety guru. Today, I’m very excited to have you with me, Brandon Schroeder. He’s a safety motivational speaker with a very powerful story. Brandon, welcome to the show.

Hey, thanks for having me. I always get excited when I get to talk about this and get my story out there because I think it can help the masses. And I appreciate this opportunity to speak with you.

Excellent. Well, let’s start with your story because I think it’s a very powerful story from moments growing up on a farm, understanding risks to get into the trades, and then we’ll get into the turnaround you did in safety, but let’s get to that later.

Yeah, absolutely. When I was a little kid, I grew up on a farm surrounded by agriculture. My dad had corn, soybeans, and cattle. So, I was around a lot of large machinery from a very young age. I was driving tractors and skid loaders, helping my dad and my grandfather on the farm. One thing that I always noticed is my dad. He liked to take shortcuts. He liked to get things done as quickly as possible. And my grandpa would always be like, let’s slow down a minute. And it always seemed like my grandpa’s projects always got done quicker, even though they didn’t. I had a little bit of both sides of that in me. And I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t always perfect. No one is. But I had a lot of influence. My dad was a very hardworking person, and growing up, I always wanted to be like him. But I saw from a very young age that the neighbor kid caught his arm in a PTO shaft, and I saw the damage that it did to his body.

Yikes.

So, I knew that if I didn’t take safety seriously and think about what I was doing out there daily, there would be consequences. So, I was very careful growing up on the farm. After high school, my dad said to me, what do you think you want to do? All my friends are going to college. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wasn’t going to go sit in a classroom for another four years. So, I started looking at all the different trades out there, and I came across the electricians and thinking, you know, I can work inside, I can work outside. There’s good pay, there’s good benefits. I really didn’t know what I was signing up for, but I went down to our local apprenticeship and training office, and I applied in Des Moines, Rock Island, and Cedar Rapids. Those were the three big areas around me that had apprenticeships.

Sure.

And the first thing I went to be Des Moines. That was the biggest metropolitan area in Iowa anyway. And I could tell very quickly that I was out of my league. I was an 18-year-old kid who had only worked on the farm and at a grocery store. And I was going in there competing with people that had quite a bit of electrical experience and life experience that I just didn’t have. And that really hurt my confidence going to that first interview. Well, I knew I didn’t get in when I left, but I knew what to expect for the second interview. So, the second one was in Cedar Rapids, and I nailed that one because it was exactly the same as the first one, I knew. I kind of practiced my answers, and I got better at interviewing. I got into the electrical apprenticeship right out of high school. And when I got that letter, I thought, I’ve made it. All I have to do is get through the next four years of five years of training, and I’m going to have a great life. Right? And I show up at the office that first day, and, I mean, I was the first person in the parking lot.

And I’m all excited to go to work. And I get in there, and the first thing they have me do is fill out my pre-employment paperwork. And then they hand me a pair of safety glasses, some gloves, a hard hat, a lockout tag out thing. Sure. And we go through a book about two inches thick, and over policies, rules, safety procedures. This is a long time ago. This is back in 97. And once we went through that, it took about 15 minutes. They gave me an address, and all I had was the PPE that they had handed me. And they gave me an address. And I go out to the job site, and I don’t really know what to expect, but I notice right away when I get out there, one of the first things that I noticed was people did not have these heavy-duty work boots on that I had. And my dad worked in construction. He farmed when we went out on the farm, we always had heavy duty work boots on. And my grandpa, every time, he always went out into the tractor, he always had a pair of gloves with him.

And I have these gloves, these safety glasses, and this hard hat on. And I remember I go to the first break, and nobody has this stuff on. And I asked one of the guys, I said, don’t we have to wear a hard hat and safety glasses? And he said a lot of people don’t.

Really?

Yeah. This was a long time ago. People thought safety glasses fog up, they’re uncomfortable, and a lot of people didn’t wear them. A lot of the journeymen that I worked with, they were very resistant. I’ll wear those if I’m drilling or if I think I’m going to get something in my eye, I’ll put the safety glasses on, but I’m not wearing them all the time. And they’d give us these lanyards, so at least you could take the safety glasses on or take them off, but you’d have them hanging around your neck. But I noticed a lot of people standing on top of ladders. If the ladder wasn’t quite tall enough, they’d go to the very top. I’d noticed people getting into energized equipment, and as an apprentice, I couldn’t do any of that. I couldn’t get into energized equipment. Sure. Fifth year apprentice. Well, after I went through my five years of apprenticeship, I was all gung ho. I wanted to run jobs. I wanted to show the company what I had. And they started giving me more and more responsibility. Pretty soon, I’m doing service truck by myself and then running small jobs, and they gave me a large commercial site to run.

And I remember I was pretty nervous, but I was excited about the task, and safety was not a priority to me. I used to go to safety meetings and think, I hope they have good coffee and donuts, because that’s about all I’m going to get out of this. I didn’t really think safety applied to me. I thought it applied to the new guy. Anytime we had a safety meeting, it was always some toolbox talk or some box that we needed to check. It was never anything meaningful that was really going to impact safety. That was going to make me think that pertains to me or that could happen to me. For instance, I remember in the summertime one time we had a safety talk about cold weather and frostbite.

I’m thinking, good timing.

Yeah, it’s 90 degrees out here, and we’re going to talk about frostbite today, or we’d have another one about traffic signals. Well, we’re nowhere near traffic signals. And I would get frustrated with these toolbox talks because people would just open up these toolbox talk books and they’d read whatever the next week was. It wasn’t like we were going to. That’s relevant. We’re not going to try to move the bar. I think one of the best tools that any company can do is to report near misses and use those for safety meetings. To me, that’s a built-in safety meeting. Every week. You can talk about near misses, or I can go on a site, and within 15 minutes, I can find something to talk about, Hazard, something that’s relevant. But we didn’t really do that. So, I got into just thinking safety was a box check or something we had to do to make the office happy, or you better have your paperwork filled out. It wasn’t really anything that I thought was going to happen to me, or it didn’t really pertain to me because I was a professional. I knew what I was doing.

At the time of my accident, I had 15 years of experience, and I hadn’t had too many close calls. I thought I was good at my job. 03:00 I’m done at 3:30, and I get a call from the general contractor, and he says, I need this cord relocated. And I go out, and I look, and this cord runs through some aluminum framework in the front of the building. So, the only way, or the easiest way for me to relocate this cord was to unhook the cord from the panel, pull it through the aluminum framework, back out through the doorway, and hook it back up. And some people, when they see my presentation and I talk about that part, say, why didn’t you unhook it from the other end? That would have been so much safer. Well, if I would unhook the cord from the other end, hook to a transformer running through the building, steel through all this framework, 200, 300ft of cord that I got to pull back through the building and unhook it, and it would have taken ten times as long. So, I have this cord that’s running through this aluminum framework, hooked up to this electrical panel, and it’s less than 50ft from the building.

It’s a clear, wide-open shot. All they want me to do is unhook this cord, pull it through the aluminum framework, and hook it back up. They want me to do this at 03:00 because it’s going to kill all the power to the building. I go out there, and I look, and most electrical panels have a main breaker. This panel didn’t have that. This panel was fed directly from the utility side of this transformer. So, the only way that I can shut this power off is to call the power company and have them send it.

Right, which is not at 03:00 p.m. Not.

At 03:00 when you’re done at 330. I know that I likely won’t even get anyone on the phone who knows where this piece of equipment is, let alone get a line throughout here to help me. So, I think I will have to do this energized. And from the time I got in in 1997 until around 2008, I did this type of work all of the time with no PPE art. It wasn’t until around 2008 that I started hearing about electrical safety in the workplace. NFPA. Yes, we went over electrical safety and apprenticeship, but I thought that the electrician’s main hazard was electrocution. And I had seen equipment blow up, sure, but really didn’t equate. I knew what an arc flash was, but I didn’t know anybody that it happened to. I hadn’t heard a lot about it. I didn’t really know what I was putting myself at risk that day. And this is back in 2011, but they gave us these arc flash suits. And I realize that not everyone on this that’s going to listen to this knows what an arc flash suit is. But an arc flash consists of a belle calva, which is just a cotton ski mask.

We have an arc-rated face shield hooked to a hard hat. We wore 1000 volts rated gloves with leather protectors over them, arc rated coveralls, hearing protection, safety glasses, heavy duty leather shoes. All this is in a kit in the back of my van. So, I’m thinking I need to go get my arc flash suit. I open up the back door of the van and the suits not there. So needless to say, I’ve done these tasks many times. I thought I could do it one more time. Long story short, within a few minutes I’m flying to the University of Iowa burn unit by helicopter, hanging on for my life, not knowing if I’m going to die. I had a brand new baby. I just don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I’m very scared. My hand is half blown off and I get into the University of Iowa, and they wheel me in through this doorway and I’ll never forget my wife coming in there. And just when my eyes locked on her eyes, I knew this was serious. She didn’t say anything. She just ran down the hallway crying. It bothers me today.

I had to live there, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I couldn’t console my wife. I couldn’t tell her. I couldn’t be the strong person I always tried to be for my family. I was in the hospital for about three weeks, and then I went to a rehab unit where I was doing physical rehabilitation, working on my hand, but I couldn’t make a fist. I had to have multiple surgeries on my hand. I had to have skin grafts taken off of my legs and put on my hand. My face was blown off and not gone to the point where I needed it. It wasn’t going to the point where I needed plastic surgery. But when I looked in the mirror, no way did I think this was going to heal. I got very depressed. I wanted to commit suicide. I did not want my wife to be married to this monster. I didn’t want this monster to be the dad to my daughter. I wasn’t thinking clearly, but I thought the world would be much better without me. I didn’t want everyone to feel sorry for me. And I just wanted to get out of there and get this over with.

I wanted to leave every day. I just said, can I go home? And all that talk did was lead to more medication. I got through that very difficult time in my life just because of my wife’s strength. And not everyone has a family and a wife like I do. I won the wife lottery. There’s no way I could have gotten through this without her. When I got home, then the problems got bad for me again because I got addicted to morphine, trying to get off of that stuff. I have a whole new appreciation for people that are addicted to any type of drugs. I had some personal experiences that my biological dad, he was a drug addict. I’ve only met him like five times in my life. And when I found out or I thought that I was addicted to the morphine, once I recognized it, I just quit cold turkey. Because I remember when I was twelve years old, seeing him stand out by the side of the road like a bum. And I thought, this isn’t going to be thanks. I’m not getting addicted to anything, right? There’s another thing that helped me get through this, and that’s something that not everyone has.

But I didn’t care what happened to me physically or mentally. I was done taking the medication, and I stopped. Then I get through all this, and I have to go back to work. And I’m thinking I’m going to get fired for sure. When you have an accident like this, there are a lot of consequences for the company you work for. We have a serious OSHA violation on our record. Companies do yearly safety audits. Our experience modification rate was above one on our trip. And you have to fill out all these applications for all these customers and all these bidding processes. And it really wasn’t the cost of the accident that really affected the company. It was the customer’s perception. Once you fill this out for bid forms, and I say this during the presentation, companies like working with other safe companies. They don’t want to take a risk. They’re not going to roll the dice. If the company you work for doesn’t have a good safety record, many companies will find someone else who does. And I had to go to a lot of meetings, a lot of explaining, a lot of remediation on how we were going to fix this, right?

Ultimately, the company decided, and I think it was more of a charity case because I couldn’t work with my hands, but they decided to make me the safety director. And I’m thinking, how are my coworkers going to look at me, look at the decision that I made? I’m going to go out there, and I’m going to push safety. After what I did, this didn’t make sense to me, but I had no other way to pay my bills. I didn’t have any other options. And they’re asking me to do it, and my paycheck is going to keep coming. So, I decided to do the best I could.

It’s probably a good call because you have a way of advocating that nobody else can, right? Because you’ve personally experienced it. It’s real to you.

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And I think that the company’s attitude is: who better to talk about safety than the guy who had to take the hard road and learn the hard way? But I can tell you half of the, you know, I didn’t work for a large company. A lot of the companies that I speak for are Fortune 500 companies. I worked for a company that had maybe, on average, 80 employees. At our peak, we might get to 110. And half of the people in the company looked at me like, I can’t believe this guy has a job. And the other half of the company looked at me like he was pretty good at his job. If this happened to me, this could happen to him, or if this happened to him, this could happen to me. So, I really couldn’t control the people who thought I should be fired or didn’t think that I should be in that position. I can’t control what they think of me. But I had a job, and I was very focused on that job. How I was going to make up for my accident was to deliver the company a big fat zero incidents for a calendar year.

And to say I was obsessed with this goal. And I’m a very goal-oriented person. If I don’t have a vision, if I don’t have a roadmap, I already know I’m not going to be successful. And one of the best quotes I’ve ever seen is an idiot with a plan can beat a genius without a plan. And I put together a plan, and I got to pick the members of my safety committee. I went out, and I picked six people who were highly influential in the company that I knew people would listen to. And we started having safety meetings. And we said, look, we didn’t have a good year last year. The year I got hurt, we had twelve OSHA recordables. That’s worse than bad for a company with 100 employees at their peak.

Yeah, it’s bad.

That’s bad. We have to improve. So, the first thing we did was put hard hats, safety glasses, and gloves in place. We’re not asking people to wear them anymore. That’s a condition of employment. If you want to work at our company, you will wear these things. And if you don’t want to work at our company, you can work for our competitor. That’s fine, but we are going to change the way that we do things now. And I had the buy-in from the company’s president, and the safety committee helped me. And one of the first things I did was I didn’t know anything about safety. So, I started going to as many safety conferences as I could, and I would identify companies that were much larger than the one that I worked for, who had very good safety records, and I would talk with them, take notes. What are your policies? What are your procedures? How do you guys walk through the job sites on your safety audits? What works, and what doesn’t? I got invaluable information from each one of the safety conferences that I went through. I was networking like crazy, and I was very much out of my element as an electrician who works alone.

Going to these safety conferences, meeting these experts, and talking to them was out of my comfort zone, but it was something that I had to learn to do if I was going to be good at my job.

Right.

So, I went and met with them. One thing that stuck with me was that you have to create a lookout for one another’s safety culture, and if you can’t do that, everything else doesn’t matter. And I believe that. And I tell people that if we made every employee in an organization a safety manager or a safety advocate, we’d have no accidents. But the reality is we have to go out there, and we have to be productive. But safety has to be a tool. And something that we use daily can’t just be something that we use when the safety manager comes around or there’s a walk-through. It has to be a tool that you use on a daily basis. And if the people most influential at the company aren’t willing to use those tools, you won’t be able to spread that.

Sure.

So, one of the first things that we did was I started doing walkthroughs, safety audits, and I would go out, and I would tell people, you’re going to get one warning to wear your safety glasses, gloves, and hard hat. And after that, I just give your name company, and whatever happens, happens. It’s out of my hands. But you’re going to get one warning, and that’s it. This is a condition of employment. The rest of the items we can work on that could be a training issue. That could be. You didn’t know, but everybody here knows going forward, we’re wearing our PPE. I went and did a safety audit, and I had a guy who wouldn’t wear safety glasses, and he’s like, I don’t need them. I’m like, well, this is one warning. And he kind of blew me off, like, okay. And I found a few other safety things that I talked to him about, and he was kind of on my radar. When you do a safety audit and someone gives you attitude and you find things they’re not receptive to what you say, you kind of want to go visit that person again, you should.

It’s not somebody you’re going to say, okay, they’re all right. They know what they’re doing. We don’t have any problems over there. You know that. That’s something that’s going to take more of your attention. So, he got more of my attention. In the next safety audit, we found another problem. In the next safety audit, we found another problem. And these weren’t things that he didn’t know better. I would say only 25% of my audience do electrical work, but my experience as a safety manager was in electrical.

Sure.

I went into this project, and he’s got all the covers off the panel, live exposed parts, and a metal fish tape in the panel, pulling wire. I mean, he knew better than what he was doing. And this was the third time. And I just told him, I said, I don’t know what will happen here, but you need some more training. We’ve talked about this. We’ve talked about this, and I don’t think that you are an asset to our organization with your current mindset, and I’m not able to change your mindset. So, I think you need to go talk to management to see what we’re going to do moving forward. I was pushing for an OSHA 30 course, additional training, something because this guy had a lot of experience. I didn’t want to lose him in the organization because safety is something that you always have to improve and evolve on. Nobody knows it all day one. And we had a culture of not-so-good safety culture. So, I wasn’t expecting to turn this company around in a year. I knew it would take time, and our employees are our greatest asset.

So, I didn’t want this guy gone, but I went, and I told the owner what happened, and he said, you know what? I’m tired of this. Your accident should have been a big awakening, people that they need to change, and every once in a while, we need to have a sacrificial lamb. And I said, what do you mean? And he said, unless you tell me something I don’t already know right now, we’re going to fire him. And I got very emotional because I blew my face off. I blew myself up. I was in the hospital for a month. I broke every safety rule in the book and cost the company hundreds of thousands of dollars in insurance premiums. And I’m still coming in, and I’m getting a paycheck. And you’re going to fire this guy? I did what I could, and they fired him. And it affected me. Like, I didn’t sleep for three days. I called the guy. I tried to meet with him for lunch when he was gone. The last thing a fired employee will do is meet with the guy he thinks got him fired.

Right.

And I don’t know. It still affects me that he lost his job, and I couldn’t continue to coach him and try to make him better because that was what I was there to do. But I can tell you, after that happened, it sent a message to the rest of the company that these guys aren’t messing around. Safety is going to be practiced in our company. We made mistakes last year, but going forward, things are changing, and you’re either going to get on board with these changes or you’re not. And if you’re not going to get on board, we don’t have a place for you here. Right.

It sends a message.

It did. And I would rather have that message sent through me. I don’t know why it wasn’t, but his firing me will probably affect me for the rest of my life because I should have been the person who lost their job, but I wasn’t. After the first year, we went from twelve OSHA portables down to three down to one, and eventually, we could get that zero.

That’s tremendous.

It was. But I can tell you that I thought about this from the time I got up until I went to bed every day. And when I looked at the work orders, I looked at the jobs. I came from the field, so I knew what stage these projects were in. I knew what they were doing. I knew the employees, because I only worked with a company that had 100 employees. I knew their safety habits. I knew who would take the time to do things correctly and safely, and I knew who would take shortcuts. And I tried to get myself through those shortcuts before they even happened. Don’t even put the. And that’s something that I think that I preached a lot at all of our owners’ meetings: let’s take these safety decisions out of the field employees’ hands. Let’s plan safety into the job before expecting the field employees to perform work safely. Let’s plan and engineer safety in before they even have a chance to touch it. For instance, when we’re looking at bids, and we’re looking at jobs, we know we’re going to need a shutdown.

Let’s plan that shutdown for them. If we know we have an overhead hazard. Let’s plan two weeks ahead of time that we’re going to rope this area off, and no one’s going to be able to go through here because we know we have this work to do. And that’s where I think shortcuts happen. Somebody thinks I have to get this done to meet this deadline. I have a short time to do it, and safety kind of goes by the wayside. But with proper planning and the employees with the four, every construction project that I’ve been on has a two-week look ahead. Four weeks look ahead. We’re always planning. We’re always trying to hit goals and schedules. Let’s plug safety in there, too.

Right.

And I think it can be done when people work together as a team. One of the big things that I’m seeing now is people are, if you’re not safe, let’s say you set your hard hat down for a second, they’re going to walk you off-site, no warnings. Or you make a mistake on a ladder, no warnings. We’re going to walk you off-site. And that’s not something that I can advocate for. I think everybody makes mistakes. The thing that I advocate for is if I see somebody standing on top of a ladder, yes, I’ll admit that’s a poor decision if they’re on the very top of the ladder. I have a bigger problem with the people who are standing on the ground and aren’t saying, let me get you a taller ladder.

The brother’s keeper you were talking about, right? Is somebody else watching you do it?  

Yeah. Let me find a better way to do this. And to me, that’s how you solve your problems. You don’t know what’s going through that person’s mind now. You don’t know what they’re dealing with. Maybe their mind isn’t where it should be that day, but when you walk right on by somebody doing something unsafe, that’s worse than committing the act itself. And there’s no better part or feeling than knowing that your part of a team and someone’s looking out for you. And when someone comes up to you and they say, hey, stop what you’re doing, that’s not safe. I’m going to help you find a better way to do that. That instantly sends a message that this person is looking out for me. I’m part of their team, and they’re going to help me improve. But one thing that I see a lot on LinkedIn that I don’t agree with is somebody will take a picture of somebody who’s doing something foolish and they’ll post it on LinkedIn. That sends a message that safety is just looking for idiots, and we’re all idiots sometimes, but correct. When people walk, you want to limit that.

As you get older, I think you learn from your mistakes and realize you’re not bulletproof. Bad things do happen. But I think being on a team where people look out for one another is the key to safety. And that’s what I try to convey in my presentation: you have to look out for one another. And being part of a team, you have one weak link. The chain breaks if there is a failure. Let’s not point the finger. Let’s figure out where the team went wrong.

I heard a few things from you. One of them was around the safety committees you started it with in terms of getting grassroots engagement and involvement. You also looked at some hard and fast rules that were communicated and were clear. I think planning is a really important one, which is just, let’s plan this through. Like, if I think about what you talked about, your accident, it seemed like it was a last-minute thing. Let’s try to squeeze it in the last 30 minutes of the day. And so right there, there isn’t that advanced plan. Say, okay, what’s the best way to do this? If you call the utility and it was planned work, they’d probably be able to cut it out, but not if you’re calling a three, expecting it to happen at 305.

Exactly.

Then, the last one was really this looking out for each other, the brother’s keeper concept, and really getting people instilled, which I think is a very powerful element, as long as you’ve got multiple people working together.

Right.

If you’re a lone worker, your kind of stuck looking out for yourself unless you get a second that’s there, that’s looking out for you.

I agree with that, but it does take discipline when you’re working by yourself. You know how many people know that, to me, nuclear power plants are the safest place in the world. And I know people in my neighborhood that work at a nuclear power plant, and I watch them put up Christmas lights, and I’m like, I know you wouldn’t do that at work. And there’s more than one time when I went and got my extension ladder out of my garage and said, here you go. I think, you know, there’s a safer way to do, you know, most of the time, people appreciate that, and that’s what I try to do: just go out there and do my part and look out for one.

So, Brandon, thank you for sharing your story. I think it’s a very powerful story. References back to safety on the farm and how that was there, but also how you got into trade and the environment was different. And then, it was a very powerful story regarding the incident, but mostly in terms of what you did to pivot safety within the organization. And was it three years that you drove this?

Yeah, I did the job for three years. I wanted to make some more changes in the company. And when I try to do something, I want to be the best. I’m not saying I can be the best, but my vision is always to improve and always take steps forward. And the company did not. They were good with where it was at. They didn’t want to make a lot of changes. They didn’t want to keep evolving. And that’s a big mistake that I think some companies make. They say, well, we didn’t have any accidents last year.

We’re good.

We’re good. And that’s to me like a CEO saying, looking at their numbers and saying, our sales goals were great last year. Let’s try to do the exact same number that we did last year. This next year.

It doesn’t normally happen that way.

No. You always want to do better in business. You always want to try to increase efficiencies and drive revenues up. That’s the whole reason a business exists. And safety is the same thing. You have to try to improve and do better each and every year. You can always do better, no matter how good you are at it.

Agree. So, Brandon, you share your story with multiple different audiences. If somebody wants to get in touch with you, how can they do that?

My website is believeinsafety.com. That’s the best way to get in touch with me. You can read a little bit about my story. I do have some YouTube videos out there that I’ve shot where my wife talks about, and they show some of my family. And that video has been very popular. It is in my presentation as well. But believeinsafety.com is the best place to reach me if you want to contact me about future speaking engagements.

Sounds good. Thank you, Brandon. I appreciate you taking the time to share your story with many audiences across the country. I think, hopefully, it helps change people’s mindset about how to show up for safety.

All right, well, thank you for having me. This was a big honor. I know this is a popular podcast, and I very much appreciate being part of it.

Thank you, Brandon.

Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-suite Radio. Leave a legacy. Distinguish yourself from the past. Grow your success. Capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at execsafetycoach.com. Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.  

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In 2012, Brandon Schroeder‘s path as a speaker unfolded following a workplace incident in 2011. Having served as a journeyman electrician since 2002, he had envisioned a future in the electrical trade. Brandon was known for his proficiency, diligent follow-through, and on-me task compleon. However, the pivotal moment of his accident led him to see an alternave journey awaing him.

In 2012, he was approached to address a company about the circumstances of his accident. Despite initial reservaons, Brandon agreed. Inially, he thought this would be a one-me endeavor, but he soon discovered that requests for his story would persist. More than a decade later, he connues to share his narrave, influencing safety perspecves. Brandon has delivered presentaons for numerous companies, ranging from global giants to local co-ops. His objecve remains singular—to reach that one individual who needs to hear his story.

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Alone and Not Unseen: Profound Strategies for Lone Worker Safety with Dr. Ryan Olson

Alone and not unseen: profound strategies for lone worker safety

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In this must-listen episode of The Safety Guru, we’re focusing on the critical yet often overlooked topic of lone worker safety. While they have fewer interactions with leaders and coworkers, their decisions are still shaped by the safety climate and priorities set by their organization. Join us to dive deeper into this topic with Dr. Ryan Olson, who will share his invaluable insights, groundbreaking research, and profound strategies for lone worker safety. Tune in!

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

Hi, and welcome to The Safety Guru. Today, I’m very excited to have with me, Dr. Ryan Olson. He spent many years with Oregon Health and Science University and is about to start a new program in occupational health psychology. Really exciting at the University of Utah. Ryan, welcome to the show. Really excited to have you with me. You have some amazing work that you’ve done over the years, particularly around lone workers, which is really what we’re going to talk about today.

Well, thanks so much, Eric, for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here and have this conversation about my work and about safety, health, and wellbeing in general.

Excellent. And so, the work you do on lone workers is quite unique in terms of the research and such a critical, important area. So, tell me a little bit about your story. Obviously, you’ve studied occupational health psychology. Tell me a little bit about your story and your interest in loan workers.

Yeah. Well, if we cut to the initial interest in loan workers, we’d probably start at graduate school at Western Michigan University, where I had a class with John Austin, who was my mentor, and we read a case study in a book that had bus operators self-monitoring their safety driving behaviors. They reported a… The authors reported a reduction in injuries by 66 %. And I just was skeptical. To me, that sounds like a change from three to one injury. And I just don’t know. I was skeptical, and I wanted to replicate or partially replicate and see if this actually worked, if it actually changes behaviors. So, my thesis turned into a small study of four bus operators for a long period of time with observers on the process of monitoring actual driving behavior. And to my surprise, using behavioral goal setting, and self-monitoring, and feedback type approach, one of the drivers showed a very large improvement in one particular behavior, complete stopping at stop signs. And so that’s really how I got involved with so-called lone workers, was just by chance that I read this study, and I thought, I don’t know if I buy that, and I wanted to get in, and I used it as a thesis topic.

And then it was a very interesting, informative experience. I did a bunch of extra safety work with that transit authority, doing a safety assessment of their historical injury and collision experience. However, my success with the thesis led to an opportunity to work with new flight students at the School of Aviation at Western Michigan. And that project really got me deeply involved in brand new folks learning how to fly a plane. Definitely a high-risk task. Definitely. And the big initial benchmark is when do you fly on your first solo? So, how well are students being prepared for that? When do they go on their first solo? We study predictors of success doing that quickly and videotape landings, and we could talk a lot about that dissertation. Still, it was a deep experience thinking about those new people, learning a high-risk, complicated skill set, and the system trying to do this safely with minimum risk to the students and instructors was the next step. And so, after my graduate training, when I moved to Oregon and was thinking about starting to pursue a grant-funded research program, it was really data that drove me next to truck drivers.

So elevated injury rates, a range of elevated health issues, including obesity and high blood pressure, and got going with work with truck drivers, and then from there, it built out to home care workers. So, I think I can trace it all back to that chance of reading a little case study in a graduate school classroom, and now here I am 20 years later.

In this space and one of the few researching this area is so important because a lot of the interventions around occupational safety, particularly in the culture space, heavily focused on interventions that work well in a shop floor setting, an environment where you’ve got teams, but it’s much more different in terms of how do I connect with somebody who’s working independently day in and day out? A lot of these methods do work, but these are often overlooked pieces. I think of your base safety as an example; it does not work particularly well when you’ve got only one person alone. So, tell me a little bit more about why loan workers are overlooked and some of the unique concerns that relate to the work and the interventions in that space.

I think the core reason is that the workers are dispersed. They tend to work unusual schedules or in unusual places. And so it’s just challenging to find, get with the workers, and get involved to study and work with them in a way beyond just doing survey research. Just that barrier results in fewer studies being done with groups like bus operators, commercial truck drivers, and home care workers. And that’s probably the fundamental issue. It has been tremendously effortful over the years to conduct, for example, a large randomized controlled trial with truck drivers. We couldn’t do it without the support of amazing companies who basically volunteered to partner with a researcher out of the goodness of their hearts, and maybe the hope that our health research will encourage workers to stay with the company or to have good positive feelings about the company. So, both employers and unions really donate a lot of their time and service to help us get the work done. But I think it’s really about the effort of getting involved with these folks. I think technology and wearable technology should help us tremendously now and into the future to get more work done with isolated and dispersed workers.

Absolutely. And so, tell me a little bit about some of the most exposed workers that are lone workers and maybe some of the tactics that you’ve seen work in those environments.

Yeah. I’m not sure I can say the most exposed. Maybe it depends on what hazards we’re talking about. But in the spaces where I’ve worked, there are people truly alone, like a commercial truck driver, but there are also small construction crews. For example, just at my house, I had all my windows replaced last year and it was a two-person crew, and we had a huge front-picture window. And watching that two-person crew handle that big picture window and have a near, a close call, that’s lone work there too. You don’t have a team around you. It’s just you and your partner, and they do a lot of things alone during their workday. So, I think I might add construction and utilities into the mix just because they’re doing a lot of things alone, and they do experience elevated fatality rates and injury rates, as well as all the commercial drivers and the home care workers that we work with.

And I think when you talk about that construction crew with two people, similar to pilots as an example, where you’ve got two pilots, there’s also the element, or you talked about utilities where you can have a small crew doing a job, is there’s a true lone worker. Still, in a small team, I can keep what went wrong, my near-misses, and my close calls to it within our group, in which case that accident operates like a lone worker crew and can work in very remote, isolated environments. So very much, that similarity of how we speak, because that was one of the big advances in aviation, is how do you get those two people to realize that there’s value in sharing what went wrong in a flight? Yeah, and.

To look out for not just each other but also the broader workforce. So, I don’t know, off the top of my head, I don’t know about the company that installed our windows specifically, but let’s imagine they’ve got 20 employees who all do this at work. The crew that was working at my house, if there’s a safety committee that meets regularly, hopefully, there is, and lessons learned could be shared through that process so that other workers can approach similar types of tasks in a safer, less risky fashion. And so, but yet that communication is a challenge. I think with lone workers, I do think a lot about this concept in behavioral psychology, which is the free operant. The behavior studied by Skinner and many other behavioral psychologists was named the free operant because the organism was really free to behave any way it would like in the environment. And then the research was to study, well, how is that free behavior shaped by its antecedents and its consequences. And lone workers are really quite free when they’re out on their own doing the work to do the work how they want. But they do have working conditions as well that are shaped by the employer and the design of the work.

Going back to my window crew, one of the first things he said after touring our house, the lead worker, was that this was a three-day job, and I’d been given two days to do it. So, right off the bat, I knew this working crew would be dealing with safety productivity pressure because of the schedule for the work.

Sure. So, I remember when we were talking originally, you touched on new employees and the onboarding of new employees. And you had done, I believe, a study around how you onboard a new loan worker because of the vulnerability of different shifts, all sorts of different complexities.

Yeah, well, specific to onboarding a new loan worker, like going back to the flight students, the question is, well, when do you let them really go out on their own? So, there’s some assessment if they have been trained, they are skilled and knowledgeable in their work, and that they themselves feel confident that they’re ready to go and work on their own, in bus operations in the transit industry, where we’ve been working for the past five or six years on a trial of an intervention for new employees. The bus operators have the chance to learn in the classroom together and on the road together, as a group or as a cohort, which is fantastic because they can bond with each other, get to know each other, and help each other out as they’re learning. And then, once they move into the workplace, there may be some monitoring of their driving with a coach or supervisor, maybe more frequently early on. But by and large, they’re on their own pretty quickly. But I do like, in that model, some type of mentor, coach, or a class, or a group that you can learn with. And most industries sort that out, and employers will do that in a more systematic, more rigorous way, or all the way in a…

We’ve had fatality cases here in Oregon where the story is particularly tragic, where somebody is quite new to the work site and killed within the first couple of weeks on the job. One potential contributing factor in cases like that is usually that training probably was not sufficient in terms of what are the hazards of the job and what are the ways that we protect ourselves against those hazards.

I think it’s pretty cool. The element I find interesting is when you talk about keeping the cohorts together, the mentoring aspects as well, how long—I don’t know if there’s an exact duration, but how long is it worthwhile to keep some of these elements in place?

Well, yeah, that’s a great question because it’s expensive to keep people in training. You’re not generating revenue or out in service. That’s a training expense. There’s a particular study I know by the first author’s last name, Breslin. I think it was done in Ontario, Canada, and it was a study of workers’ compensation claims for the first year of workers’ experience. And the first month stands out like a sore thumb. The elevated risk for injury in the first month is well above the rest of that first year. But it did take a full year for the relative risk to drop down to one. That study to me, if it plays out in the literature, suggests that the first month is a really important time for new people to be learning, coached, and trained, and not just what they need to do in terms of productivity or service, but also safety hazards, means of protecting themselves against hazards and safety procedures and processes, including what to communicate and when, so that employers know about hazardous working conditions that could or should be eliminated or reduced through engineering controls or design controls.

And so let’s think about some of the approaches that you’ve seen that work well for loan workers, some of the key principles. You talked a little bit about the onboarding, the mentoring, and the cohorts. I know when we connected, you touched on some elements around signals and the work environment. Tell me a little bit more about some of the tactics that organizations can take to better shape the decisions of that loan worker.

Well, I mean, working from top priorities and the hierarchy of controls downward, I would just want to mention that we have studied improving working conditions through physical environment changes in truck cabs, for example. So, to reduce fatigue and try to benefit workers’ sleep, we studied an active suspension seat that reduces whole body vibrations, which increases the risk for musculoskeletal disorders, but it’s also fatiguing to get bounced around in a seat all day. We also studied a therapeutic mattress that had the potential to alter vibration exposures for team truck drivers who sleep in a moving vehicle. And then we supplemented those cab enhancements, really job design changes, with a behavioral program. That’s an example of just trying to work from working conditions downward to more behavioral interventions. As a behavioral psychologist, I tend to specialize in behavioral approaches, but I do work with engineers like Peter Johnson in that study to address working conditions. Related to that, some of my current future plans are really focused on schedule, regularity, and consistency and how that might relate to sleep regularity, health, and safety. So, I just started there. If we work downward to behavioral interventions, I think Emily Wang’s safety climate research with truck drivers suggests that lone workers, like truck drivers, are still sensitive to safety-related communications.

What is my organization’s priority? Is it really productivity, or is it really safety, or is it tied? So, truck drivers do form safety climate perceptions of the priority in the organization. Those perceptions do relate to their safety performance and motivation. And those safety climate scores also predict future collisions and injuries in the trucking industry. So, what that tells me is that lone workers may have fewer points of communication, and that may be text messages, phone calls, or an occasional meeting. However, they’re still learning from leaders in those communications what’s really important, and that’s still affecting their approach to safety.

It’s interesting because it may actually skew the data. If I’m thinking about a team-based worker where there’s maybe a huddle every morning that talks about topics, then there could be some elements in terms of how we prioritize safety in the conversation, et cetera. But the lone worker is going to get probably significantly less data, and it may not be sorted in the same way. And so the signals might feel different.

Yeah, Emily and her team, in their discussion, argued that safety climate is still a valid measure in trucking, but the responses are less shared among the drivers. So, in a manufacturing setting, the perceptions of the safety priority in the organization are more shared because the workers are together. They look side to side and upward to leadership to judge the safety priority and to calibrate their perceptions of the safety priority. But for truckers and other lone workers they will communicate with each other, but the perceptions are less shared. However, those individual-level safety climate scores were still predictive of future safety outcomes. So that’s an interesting question, and that whole area of research is important and interesting. You know, it’s quite amazing, actually, the way we develop shared perceptions of the safety priority and how consistently that perception of the safety priority relates to safety outcomes at work sites. Safety climate is, as far as I know, the best leading indicator of future injuries, collisions, and incidents.

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It just speaks to me to intentionality because a lot of organizations, if you have a mix of… When you talk about truckers as an example, they may have truckers that are in a lone-work environment, but they may have distribution centers or logistics areas where people are working in a manufacturing-like environment, loading and unloading. And so, the intentionality of the messaging may need to be very catered to the audience if we want both of them to have the right message.

Yeah. And who are the leaders influencing each group? For truck drivers, the driver manager or dispatcher, who is helping assign loads to them, supports them when they have problems on the road. That person likely has up to 50, maybe more drivers on their board. So that’s a busy supervisor. They may not always be called a supervisor, always. Sometimes, they’re called a driver manager, but they are a leader and the main source of information about the company and its priorities for that truck driver. And I recall a study once I read that just popped out at me. Dispatcher responsiveness to driver concerns in a survey study had a 0.5 correlation with driver turnover. That’s a massive correlation. So, if I’m a trucking company and I’m having turnover issues, boy, are my driver managers important people? Their relationship with the drivers has a huge effect, potentially turnover. Of course, that’s one study, and that finding was particularly strong, but I would bet, on average, that would play out if you replicated it or studied it at other places.

It’s interesting because, in a traditional context, people are going to be thinking about the emails, the posters, the conversations, the huddles, the debriefs on safety, and all the various focal points that exist. But the truck driver may be hearing disproportionately compared to the environment that’s more with lots of workers working together. And so their interactions may be a dispatcher all the time saying, When are you arriving? All productivity, time base, follow through.

Yeah. And a driver might say, I’m feeling run-ragged. That was a super long day. I spent X number of hours waiting at the loading dock, and I could really use a little extra time before I pick up my next load tomorrow. And then if they get assigned a load, that’s another… Maybe it’s a little bit earlier in the morning or at an inconvenient time, but the message received is, oh, my driver manager, the company, doesn’t really care about my sleep fatigue because they’ve just given me a work assignment that isn’t consistent with my need to get rest. And in the real world, all sorts of pressures like that happen all the time. And it can be really challenging for someone like a driver manager to make these complicated choices. The freight’s got to move, and there may be only one person close to it. So, some realities constrain leader’s and workers’ choices in situations. But I think it’s up to researchers, companies, unions, all to do our best to work together, to understand where we can have levers for change, and where we can improve the lives of workers just so we can best support and protect them, especially the people doing jobs that are very hard on their bodies and their health, and put them at risk for safety incidents.

One of the things I know you talk about is a socially-connected lone worker. Can you share a little bit about what that means and some of the principles and ideals behind it?

Yeah, I think that would be a great segue to talk a little bit about our home care workers. I say our home care workers. They do feel like family after, or a part of your work team, at least after working with them for many years. But we’ve worked primarily with home care workers, who are independent contractors, to a degree caring for people who qualify for publicly funded in-home services. So, they don’t work for an agency, they work directly for a client, or in Oregon, they’re called consumer employers, who qualify for that in-home service through a state-funded program. So, these workers care for some of society’s most vulnerable or poorest citizens, but they themselves don’t make a lot of money, often struggle to get sufficient work hours, and sufficient work, and they perform a very physically demanding job in isolation on their own. And they’re navigating this unusual relationship, where their client is also their employer and can fire them or become unhappy with them. It’s a really complicated job and demanding job to do for 13 15 bucks an hour. So, for the home care workers, when I first moved to Oregon and started learning about their job, I reflected on an experience that was really beneficial to me as a new faculty member at Santa Clara University, which was a monthly faculty forum where faculty from all over campus would get together, and for a couple of hours, they would discuss a reading, share issues they were dealing with, and support each other, sorting through complicated or challenging work-related problems.

And I thought, boy, if anybody could use that support, it might be these home care workers who don’t get to see other people who do their job regularly.

Sure.

So, with collaborators here in Oregon, an ergonomist and a sports medicine physician, we developed a peer-led and scripted group program for home care workers that brings workers together regularly to learn together, set goals, both group and individual and provide structured social support. And that program called COMPAS has been really well received by workers. It’s changed a bunch of safety and health outcomes in a randomized trial, and it was adopted by the Oregon Home Care Commission in Oregon. So, it’s available to workers as a paid training course, which is tremendous. So that’s a lot to say in response to the question of socially connecting, isolated workers. But it’s like a once-a-week meeting. We’ve also studied it once a month. But these isolated workers seem to really respond to and appreciate that chance to connect with other people who do the same work. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be applied only to in-home care, but it seems in particular for this type of worker. Their answers to surveys on how connected they feel with others and their profession do change and improve along with the safety and health outcomes.

And you touched on the connection once a week versus once a month. Was there a difference between both from a frequency standpoint in terms of how connected they felt with each other?

My memory is that the social connection is about the same for both schedules. The original monthly approach we were thinking of would get them started with a yearlong program, and then perhaps they might continue on their own as an informal, monthly, community, and practice process. And what we found, getting it ready to respond to the Oregon Home Care Commission’s needs, was they really needed a course that could be implemented in a short enough period that workers could take it really like a student taking a class. And so we changed to an every other week frequency. And so there are some trade-offs. The sustained longer-term access to a socially supportive group is great in that monthly growth for a year, but it’s a lot more feasible to run and to pay workers to do it if it’s like it has a start and stop of maybe a few months. And we’re currently studying it as a 10-week program for home care workers with chronic pain. We’ve tailored the program specifically for those workers, and it’s weekly for ten weeks. And so feasibility is better that way. But also, I would have to say goal setting, engagement with goals, and accountability for working on what you’re working on is probably better with the weekly approach.

Yeah, I see the applicability to this to a lot of other lone worker groups, where if there’s a sense of connection to each other, because there’s a loneliness to being alone, and it creates a common goal, bond, as a group, I would think.

Yeah, and I think these days, in the post-pandemic world with all the hybrid work, I think the isolation and how you generate that sense of team and collective purpose applies much more broadly than it ever did before. But you’d have to think that the basic common structure of a safety committee is a great opportunity for giving lone workers a chance to get together and communicate about safety concerns, what they’d like from leadership to support their safety on the job, what do they need in terms of tools, how is the work design and work hours working for them, things like that. It, and then also to communicate, close calls like we talked about earlier in the interview.

The last question I have is really in terms of the monitoring of lone workers. With technology, there are a lot more opportunities to do remote monitoring. There have been some successes. I’ve also heard of some disasters in that regard. Everything from telematics to understanding how your driving patterns are to all sorts of tools that connect workers. Any thoughts in terms of value and maybe the way to roll them out? Because there’s also this sense of big brothers watching that I’ve heard many times. Yes.

There is pretty good evidence that this technologically intensive surveillance is really stressful for workers. So, think of the warehousing workers who are on a really tight clock, filling orders in warehouses. We don’t want to stress out workers. Stress is bad. It’s associated with heart disease and work-related stress. I mean, stress is not a soft hazard. It really is a hazard that can kill people. It’s just a little sneakier and slower than perhaps an acute traumatic injury at work. So, yeah, monitoring. I have colleagues with stories of truckers evaluating these onboard monitoring systems, with cameras on their faces and things like that. I can’t share the specifics of the stories, but the stories indicate that they aren’t necessarily well-received by workers. So, I think the key is collaboration, especially with loan workers, supporting their autonomy and their participation and decision-making. So, their decision-making processes. It reminds me a little bit of a study by Tim Ludwig, and Scott Geller, of pizza delivery drivers. And they studied collaborative safety goal setting and assigned safety goals. And then they measured, I think, turn signal use and complete stopping behavior. In the collaborative goal-setting group, the goal behavior changed, but so did the other one.

So, the discretionary extra effort for safety was better. The workers improved safety in general. For the assigned group, only the assigned behavior changed. So, collaboration generates discretionary effort. And we’ve seen a similar thing with a study of behavioral self-monitoring of health habits. One group was assigned the health behaviors to work on, one group got to choose. And the group that got to choose engaged in the process 20 % more. So I think collaboration and choice are really important, especially with all the surveillance tech that’s out there so that the workers feel like they’re being, feel like and are really being listened to that this is not just a tool for the employer to keep their thumb on them and to control them, but it really is a resource and tool for their benefit and safety, and that they have a say with how it’s used. So yeah, I think that would be my comment on that great question.

It’s interesting. I remember one organization that chose, and there’s not a proper study unless you’ve seen one, where instead of using the monitoring, this was around heartbreaking. Hence, it was more the telematic side. Instead of using punishment as a result, they use it as the driver of the incentive. So, your access to the bonus pool was based on safe driving scores. And they had a mechanism to drive it. And they had had much more success than some of the companies I’ve heard of that have gone the other approach of punishment. It doesn’t mean you don’t address from an accountability person the person that’s always hard-breaking and so forth, but that they’re trying to turn in more of a reward as opposed to punishment.

Yeah, I think that speaks to maybe it’s a general human impulse to react to and respond to things we don’t want. Aubrey Daniels called it management, by exception, probably more than Aubrey. But I remember hearing from Aubrey about it, that you’re… Basically, it’s easy and less effortful to just not do much except react to and punish the bad stuff. It is a lot more effortful and requires a lot more thought to look for opportunities to provide constructive feedback and positive reinforcement and accentuate the positive. But I do think with the collaborative goal setting, there’s so much more potential for generating a positive safety climate and a spirit of shared purpose and a culture of caring with those more positive approaches that we’re all in this together. We care for each other. We don’t want anyone to get hurt on the job, and we’re going to help each other do our best to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Excellent. Well, thank you very much, Ryan. Really appreciate you doing the work you do in the lone worker space and also sharing this on our podcast.

Yeah, thank you very much, Eric. Appreciate you having me.

And if somebody wants to learn more, is there a way they can connect with you? Is there research that they should do to access the research that you do?

Yeah, you can find my laboratory page at Oregon Health and Science University, and that should stay active for some time. Also, you should be able to find me at the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Utah. So, I should have descriptions of my work at both places for a while as I join Joe, Alan, and many others at the University of Utah to start the new Occupational Health Psychology program there.

Excellent. Thank you so much for joining us.

Thank you.

Thank you for listening to The Safety Guru on C-suite Radio. Leave a legacy. Distinguish yourself from the past. Grow your success. Capture the hearts and minds of your teams. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at execsafetycoach.com. Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.

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ABOUT THE GUEST

Dr. Olson is a Professor in Occupational Health Psychology at the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Utah. His research has focused on safety, health, and well-being interventions for isolated or “lone” workers. Dr. Olson leads an internationally recognized safety and health intervention research program with commercial drivers funded by NHLBI and has also designed impactful supportive group interventions for home care workers with funding from CDC/NIOSH. Prior to joining the University of Utah, Dr. Olson was based at Oregon Health & Science University, where he was a founding investigator and past Co-Director (with Leslie Hammer) of the Oregon Healthy Workforce Center – one of ten Centers of Excellence for Total Worker Health® funded by CDC/NIOSH. He also directed the state of Oregon’s occupational health surveillance program funded by CDC/NIOSH for over a decade. His interventions have improved a range of outcomes for workers, including safety, diet, exercise, sleep, stress, and job satisfaction.

For more information: http://bit.ly/r-olson

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We are thrilled to feature a lively and perceptive conversation with Kelly Lynch Feldkamp, an expert injury prevention specialist and founder of ProVention Plus. Kelly passionately advocates using our body movements as a critical factor to stay safe and proactively reduce and prevent soft tissue injuries. Tune in as Kelly shares the many benefits of preventive physical therapy, highlighting how it can elevate safety for your team on and off the job site and improve their overall personal health with proactive injury prevention and reduction strategies. Don’t miss out on this dynamic conversation filled with invaluable 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 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. Very excited to have her with me, Kelly Lynch Feldkamp. She’s a specialist in injury prevention and reduction. Kelly, welcome to the show. Really excited to have you with me.

Thanks so much for having me, Eric. I’m excited to be here and talk to you guys. Excellent.

Let’s start out with a little bit about your passion for safety and the journey that got you in this space.

Yeah. So, my focus is really on injury reduction and injury prevention. It’s the soft tissue kind, right? So, I got involved in this world of injury reduction about 20 years ago. It started off with someone once telling me, hey, why don’t you stretch these people out? All these people. I had this opportunity to work with people in an industrial setting. I was like, Okay, well, I know fitness. I know the body. This should be no problem. And then someone came to me and said, my knee isn’t feeling great. And I first thought I had was like, well, how do I stretch a knee? And so, it got me totally delving into what I can do for someone who’s not feeling great in all of their body areas. And so, what that led me down is the area of massage therapy. So, where I realized I had to go from just stretching and movement to actually touching and working with people as well. So that’s where I started my journey of this whole idea. And I realized, man, there is a way to help people feel better when they’re not feeling great. And that just made me so excited.

And I started to work with all sorts of people: anyone sitting at a desk, anyone working out in exercise, anyone doing industrial work. And then, when I had that opportunity to work with the people in the industrial setting at that time, and now I started calling them the industrial athlete or the job site athlete, I realized I was working with a group of people that will not get the help unless either they’re forced to, or they’re bleeding out of seven different areas or for many different reasons, maybe they don’t know that they have an opportunity to get the help or they’re too afraid to talk about it. So, I had this opportunity, and my passion just blossomed. I realized I like working with everybody, but I love working with individuals who are working in manual labor or the industrial setting. That’s where it came from.

That’s awesome. Tell me a little bit about the case for strains and sprains because it’s one of the most common injury types. Tell me a little bit about it and how you could make a difference from a stretching standpoint, but other things as well, because I want to also go into the limitations of other approaches.

Yeah, sure. I think one of the things we have to remember is we have almost in many of these industries where there’s a lot of movement is we’ve accepted just there’s a certain percentage of strains and sprains that we’re going to have. We’re saying, Okay, well, and you know what? Each one, on average, costs about $34,000. That’s on average. I think the number is actually going up now because of our treatment of these injuries. Unfortunately, I think we’re moving more towards the surgery route in a lot of things, and that’s going to take our costs up even more than they are now. We’re at this juncture where we really, really have to look at the prevention side of things. My argument has always been if we can prepare the body for the movements that it has to do in its day or in, week or career, we can lessen the opportunity for strains and sprains. Strains and sprains come from repetitive motion, overuse, overextension, things that when the body isn’t ready for something that It happens. So, if we can, again, step back and say, how can we get each body better prepared for all the things it might have to do?

And the simple example for this, I would say, is if you’re doing something repetitive motion, so you’re moving to your left many, many times throughout the day. And then, out of the corner of your eye, you see, let’s just say, a screwdriver dropping. You go to grab it to your right. Well, your body has been set up by this movement you’re doing all day long, and maybe even days in a row to the soft side. And now you go to that right side. And gosh, it wasn’t even a hard or excessive movement. It was just a regular movement, but to a place that your body wasn’t ready for. So, my approach and my thought and with Prevention, and what we’re looking to do is Move the body in all the ways that it can move. Our spine is meant to flex. Our spine is meant to extend. Our arms are meant to reach up. Think about the person who has a little bit of pain in their shoulders. They stop reaching into that position. They don’t reach as high as they used to. And then all of a sudden, over the course of a couple of months, now you can’t even do it.

So, I think the strains and sprains that we’re experiencing, especially in the workplace, are not approaching this in the right way. We’re not saying, hey, if there’s something that you’re noticing, let’s just call safety folks into this. If we could educate safety folks a little bit more on the body, the actual body, not the proper place to lift from, not the proper lifting technique. Those are important, 100%. But if we can educate the safety folks on how the body is supposed to move and meant to move, maybe we can jump in there with our stretch and flex programs and be a little bit more thoughtful. It shouldn’t be just, Hey, hold this static stretch, this non-moving stretch for 10 seconds, and then move to the next one. It should actually be dynamic. We should be warming the muscles, the joints, and the areas that are going to be used in all of the ways they may be used that day, certainly in the way they are going to be used, but also in the ways that they could be used. We want to say that job task rotation is wonderful but not always available, depending on the industry that you’re in.

For sure. How do we prepare the person doing the job? Or suggest, rather. This is more of a suggestion. You are doing this motion to one side, or you’re flexing at the hips all day long. Can we give you a motion to do the opposite of that motion throughout the day many different times? The suggestion I would have is even ten times a day, you’re moving in the opposite direction. Nice and quickly, you’re not lifting a ton of weight, but you’re preparing your spine for maybe that right side rotation or that back from being bent over all day. Maybe you’re standing up and extending, again, 10, 20 times a day because it takes about three seconds at most. But again, you’re getting that blood flow. You’re getting that memory of your muscles. Your bodies can take it so that when you get home, for example, and your three-year-old runs up to you, and you bend over to grab them, and you throw them up in the air, and all of a sudden, your back is out because your body wasn’t ready for that. I mean, goodness gracious. I can’t think of a worse thing than that. And that didn’t happen at work, quote-unquote, right?

Sure. So, how does that person deal with it? So overall, my company’s goal is, how do we reduce injuries? My passion lies in how I make sure that that person never has an experience where they’re doing their outside-of-work things and they get hurt or they feel bad, or they can’t even do them because they don’t feel good. So that’s where my passion is at. And again, that was long-winded. I went a little bit on a tangent, but it’s like one lead into another leads into another for me. And that’s why I see the movement, the aspect, the physical movement of a human being doing these jobs to be so important and so missed. The only time we touch on it from our safety side, it seems most of the time, is through our stretch and flex. What I’m saying is we need to focus a little bit more on what it can bring, what stretch, and flex programs can bring if we do them correctly and add them more. Not just in the morning, but after lunch, after breaks, that thing.

Sure. I like the element of you saying the reverse of the task you’re doing is the same as when you’re talking about somebody working on a computer you tend to be hunched over, and you bend, so you’re trying to, how do you open up and do the opposite movement? Very similar.

Absolutely. One benefit that we’ve had in working with companies is they’re industrial companies, but they also have to have an office side, an admin side. So, we get to work with people that are sitting on the computer. Even on the construction site, there’s usually a trailer, and people are… I walk in there, and they’re like this for hours and hours on end. So, I’m doing exercise. It’s hunched over their computer. So, I’m giving them exercises all the time for that as well. I’m going to hit both sides. Anytime I see someone, there’s always something that someone can do better that they don’t even realize is an option. And that’s what it is. It’s like, how can I bring this to your attention so that you notice, hey, you know what? Sitting at your desk, you’re leaning on your right elbow the entire time. And then you come and see me, and you’re saying that you’re left lower back hurts. Well, let’s see what we can do about that. It’s There’s a connection there. They don’t see it. I see it. I can give them the input and say, hey, we could work together all day long, you and me, personally.

But if you don’t change the patterns that you have outside of this room with me, you’re still probably not going to feel that benefit because you need to be responsible. So, there’s some personal responsibility in there, too, which I’m not saying that people don’t take that, but if they don’t know that there’s something they can do about it, then how can they take personal responsibility for that part? For sure.

So, what you’re describing sounds very individualized in terms of focus. Tell me a little bit about the difference. A lot of stretch and flex are not individualized. It’s everybody doing the same thing at the same time. Pros and cons: something that’s more individualized versus something that’s more group setting.

Yeah. So, stretch and flex programming; group warm-up programming. However you want to name it, whatever you want to call it should always be with the group, right? We want to get the group out there. We want to do it as often as possible because that’s going to get some camaraderie. You can have a few laughs when you’re doing it, have some fun when you’re doing a hip circle, and everyone’s laughing because it’s hilarious. But we’re doing it, and laughing is good, too. So, there’s a benefit, right? The beauty of that is that you’re going to hit just basically, I would say 80 to 90 % of people are going to get a benefit from that. There is going to be a small percentage that’s maybe not going to feel great with it. But the thing I think about with that is that’s that moment. That’s that mind-body connection for that individual, that athlete, my job site athlete that says, hey, gosh, my shoulder wasn’t moving the way I wanted it. It didn’t feel great when I got up to that. Maybe I’m going to be a little thoughtful today in how I move.

Maybe I’m going to ask for a little bit more help with X, Y, and Z tasks because I’m now feeling that that doesn’t feel great. If the first time you move is at 17, when you’re done with all your safety stuff and all of your talks, and you just start moving, there’s no idea in your head that something’s not feeling great. So you might just, right off the bat, not be in a great spot. So first, that takes it from that group to that individual for that person, that actual person. But the approach that we have at Prevention Plus is we get to do that group work, and then we’re watching everybody during that time, and we’re taking note of what might be going on with individuals. We then, and it’s a beautiful opportunity, get the opportunity to actually work with folks one-on-one. So, our job site athletes can come in to see us 15 minutes a day, and we try to do a focus every week, every couple of weeks. Whenever we’re on the job site, people can come in on a voluntary basis. It is not just for the person who’s not feeling great.

It is for everybody because we create compensations and patterns in our movement that we are unaware of, and we may not have any discomfort or pain from that. But over the course of a career, we’re going to have some problems with it. We want to literally physically touch everybody. When they come in for a session, they get an assessment of what’s happening in their actual movement. We’re talking to them, hey, what are your previous injuries? What’s going on in your day-to-day life? What are your job activities? What are your activities outside of work? We gather all of that information. Do you have diabetes? Is there something else that we need to be concerned with? Then, we get some actual hands-on work. Some clinical manual therapy, massage therapy, that’s a short period of time that we get to work with them. We get to find out what’s happening in their muscles, and then we give them exercises. We’re doing work with them. They’re doing some movement with us. Okay, let’s try this out. Think physical therapy, but we’re doing prevention. We’re not doing rehab, right? Sure. And then right after those movements, then they’re going to get their homework.

So, they’re going to leave us with something. It may be, and this might sound funny because it’s not going to work for everybody, but it may be a breathing exercise. Okay, this is how you’re going to do this. And I really want you to focus on this for the next week until I see you again. It may be an exercise with a band. It may be an exercise on the floor before they get out on the job site or at work every day. Or it might be something that they’re doing that 20 times a day for three seconds throughout the day to balance out their bodies. So, we are so lucky to have that one-on-one time. I understand not every company can do that because it’s four larger companies. You got to have at least on the warehouse floor, there’s got to be at least 40 folks in the construction site, in the logistics center, whatever it is. There’s got to be a lot of people. But one thing that I will say is the warmups that we’re able to try to get out to other folks, other companies that are smaller, is we’re trying to focus on that individual.

So, what we’re doing is we have an app that’s in formation currently, where the person is going to be able to get their morning warmup. That’s going to be the traditional stretch and flex warmup, meaning it’s for everybody. And then, throughout the day, they can do their movement breaks. And in those movement breaks, they could say, hey, My shoulder wasn’t feeling great, and it was feeling achy, or it was feeling sharp. They’re going to get a funnel towards their particular exercises and their particular three-minute exercise movement break throughout the day. We’re creating other options for companies that have a smaller workforce, which is a lot of companies, right? There are a lot of people working in all of those small companies, and they need individualized care as well. That’s our main goal overall, is to reach as many individuals as possible because we see the benefit of getting to that minute level. Each person, each athlete, brings something to the table. However, you want to focus on thinking about it; if you think about it from a cost perspective, each of our athletes, if they are injured, man, they cost a lot of money.

It’s not just the side that I look at that I’m broken-hearted for what they’re going through, but from the side of replacing an injured worker, right? However, we can start to lower those two from the business side.

What I’m hearing is really a blend of group exercise with a lot of individualized because I’ve seen some approaches where it’s all individualized, and you have different people doing different things at the same time. That can get confusing, but also, the person who doesn’t want to do it can just play along because you can’t really see what’s going on.

100%, and I think that’s just it. I love the idea that individualized moments are great. But if you don’t have that group camaraderie about it, I think you’re right. I think more and more people are like, I’m good. I don’t need to do that. I’ll just move a little bit, but I’ll hide in the background, and no one’s going to notice me because everyone’s doing different things. I’ll just tell them I’m breathing.

Or I’ll drink my coffee as I’m stretching, and that’s my stretch.

Well, no. The most hilarious thing always to me is when I get this opportunity to go out to, this would be specific to construction, but go out to a construction job site before Prevention is working with them, and I watch them do their stretch and flex. And my most… I say favorite, but I say this in almost the most jokingly way because the leader got up to do the stretch and flex, and the first movement he did while I was watching all these people had cigarettes in their mouths and they have their coffee in their hand. And the first movement this guy does is the deepest squad I’ve ever seen. And I was like, oh, my gosh. And I just have to stand back and act like everything’s fine. And so, I take that moment. When I’m first new onto a job site, I’m always like, okay, guys, here we go. Let’s get together. Let’s spread out and make some room. But cigarettes out, coffee down. Let’s do this. Let’s bring it in. Let’s be focused for just literally five minutes on yourself and your body. But it isn’t taken seriously. And I still, even in my groups, because the groups can be anywhere from 40 to 200 people, which is fantastic.

It’s such a cool feeling. And I got to tell you, the times that we’ve had people come up, even from far in the back, that have said, gosh, that’s the best warmup I’ve had before work. And it’s just because it’s a little different. It’s actually warming the muscles. So, we get… Yeah. I just think it can be taken seriously, or it can be taken very non-seriously. Absolutely. And you can have some fun with it, even if you take it seriously. I think that’s the other point. You could do it with a smile on your face and have some fun and laugh a little.

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, free energize your BBS program, enhance supervisory safety capabilities, or introduce unique safety leadership training and talent solutions, Propulo has you covered. Visit us at propolo.com.

That gets me to the objection side. How do you handle objections? Because too many times I’ve seen people say, No, I’m good. I’m tough. I don’t need to do the stretch. I mean, that’s probably one of the most common ones you hear.

It is. Gosh, you hear that. What’s funny to me is you hear that from the 22-year-old, and you hear it from the 65-year-old. It’s like either the 65-year-old says, I’m good, or he says, I’m too far gone. There are two aspects. That, unfortunately, can come to the group. You can speak to the group about it. What I try to focus on when I have that opportunity is to say, Hey, the movement of your body, the better movement you have, the better work you have, the better life you have outside of work. I’m trying to create that connection to how you can actually move your body. nonwork-related will actually have a better effect on your work, but again, have that effect on your outside of work. So that’s the approach that I have on the grand scale. But if I have the chance to talk to an individual, the best I can do is meet that person where they are and try to give them a specific thing that’s going to be most helpful to them. If that person, if I can have that moment with them, and let’s just say it is that 65-year-old who has to drive.

I’m going to give him an example. Maybe he’s driving an hour and a half to work there and back in the morning, an hour and a half at night, or maybe two hours a night. I’m going to hit him with something he can do in his car and say, hey, give this I went in your car a chance over the next week or two weeks when I see you next. Then let’s talk about it. Did that make a difference in how you felt when you got out of the car when you got home, or when you got here in the morning? If I can win them over with something little, then maybe I can draw them in a little bit more. But that takes focus, that takes energy. And I will say not every person is totally passionate about it like I am, so I would never expect everyone to do that. But if you can hit someone with something specific for them, it will likely make that change. But then that person also, the most hesitant, becomes the biggest advocate when something’s worked for them. So, then they’re the ones out there going, hey, get in there.

Just try it. Or try this. Come on, folks, we’re here. Let’s not talk. Let’s do this. Kind of thing. Yeah, those are the ones we want to win over.

And what’s the role of the leader? And how do you see a leader really lean in? I think a big piece I’ve seen is some organizations, the leader is all bought in, brings the boom box and makes it a fun thing, or they are fitness fanatics, and then they speak with eloquence around it because they exercise all the time versus the others who just stay in the back and tune out. Yeah.

One of the things I have to say is the worst thing we can do is almost have a rotating, and this would be specific to your stretch and flex. I almost have a rotating stretch leader because there are so many folks that, A, hate being in front of people. It is their nightmare. And B, don’t know movement at all. Don’t care about it. Don’t think it’s important. So, if you throw someone in that situation, guess how that stretch and flex is going to go? It’s going to go pretty bad. And if you do enough of those, no one’s paying attention. So why don’t we find our advocates? Why don’t we find our champions for movement? You know them. You see them out there on the warehouse floor, the ones that are jacked and in the gym every day. And that’s what they love. So why not ask if they’ll be that person and have them bring in other people who would also be interested in doing that? Because they know it, they care about it, they think it’s important. And other people feed off of that, I believe. I think that’s true. So, I think if that’s what you’re asking for, the leader of warming up, that thing, get your champions.

For the leaders in the organization, this is where it gets a little difficult because you can have the, let’s just call the executives, they’re all in. They think it’s super important. They look at their manual laborers as their athletes. They look at this: the body is so important. This is great. But then you get a little bit further down, and those people, the foremen or the superintendent or whoever, they have a job to get done. And they’re just looking at like, hey, we got to get up to the seventh floor today. And if we don’t do it, we’re going to have these problems. So, they don’t necessarily see it. So, you really have to put some energy into winning them over. It helps when you have it coming from the executives, and the executives say, Unfortunately, some of the people are just to be told, this is important. You got to do it. I don’t care how you feel about it. I don’t care if you think seven minutes at the beginning of the day, seven minutes after lunch or four minutes after lunch is going to just ruin your whole week or your month or your project.

I don’t care what you think. We’re doing this. I don’t like that approach. But at the end of the day, that’s how it has to be: we got to get these people that are in front of our manual laborers, our craft, our athletes. They’ve got to buy in. They can’t stand by the side and be like, Okay, fine, do it, and look at their watch the entire time because that’s not going to be a winning combination for sure.

They’ve got to take part. They’ve got to show it matters to them.

They do. Even if they have to pretend, and if I have that opportunity to talk to someone who I know isn’t totally into it, I’ll be like, you know what? Just give it this. Give it this moment. Give it this time, this every day, because your guys are actually going to feel better for it, and they’re going to know that you care about them. If you can put it that way, maybe even two, that I think is helpful.

I love the message you were sharing about this. It is also about being able to lift your three-year-old child and link it to something personal. It’s not just about work, because I think that element also is very important. I know a lot of the branding around industrial athletes also helps because every athlete stretches. But even then, it doesn’t always become simple to explain.

Well, so yeah, and that’s it, too. Really going off on the athlete idea, again, are we, anyone, you talk to anyone, and they know, you look at a professional athlete, you know that the inputs into their body, whether it’s diet, like food, or whether it’s exercise, movement, whether it’s recovery, you know that those folks are doing that because they have a team of people helping them, and they know it’s important. But then you, let’s just say I’m the person out in the warehouse, and I’m lifting stuff all day long. Maybe I don’t think of myself as an athlete, even though I’m doing a ton of movement. I have no off-season. I’m moving all of the time, all of the days. But I don’t think of myself as an athlete. If someone came to me and told me, hey, you move like an athlete. Yeah, it’s not exactly the same. You’re definitely not getting paid like one. But you don’t have a team of people around you to help you with this, but you know what? The inputs going in will help you create that maximum output for work, but also, again, that movement that you want outside of work.

So, let’s do this moment and let’s talk about how stretching and movement prep before work is important. Let’s talk about how the things that you eat and consume are very important to you. But let’s also talk about that recovery, whether that means you get to sleep at night, if you can, depending on your world and your life, if you can even Again, also at night, taking those moments to do some of those movements, those stretches, those things. This is what athletes just… Their world. This is their world. Their body is their world. It just makes so much sense to think about a person who’s moving their body for their living, for their organization, for their team to win or to produce. That’s an athlete. So, let’s start thinking about ourselves if we’re in that situation or our manual labor as our athletes, and let’s take care of them as best we can. Of course, we cannot give them the ice baths and the saunas and the like. It’s a beautiful idea. I understand that that’s not going to happen anytime soon. But if we can give them the idea that there are things they can do for themselves and help them in the ways that our company, to whatever degree that is, that’s where we need to move our culture.

Because if we don’t, we’re going to be running into a problem we’re not going to have. We’re going to have such a shortage. We already have a shortage now, right? We’re going to have more and more of a shortage of individuals who will be able to do this. Then that means that our workers that are doing it are going to be older. That leads to even more problems when it comes to sprains, sprains, and beyond that because those injuries are going to be worse, and they’re going to keep people out longer. It can go down a bad path that we don’t want to.

Yes, for sure. I know when we first connected, you touched on a topic that I thought was quite interesting: power gaps and the links back to athletes. Tell me a little bit more, because that’s another frame that we need to reframe.

Yeah. And again, our perfect world versus what will be anytime soon. But okay, in all my research on athletes, because I’ve researched athletes, I looked into what the schedule is like. How much time are they spending with their warmups? How much time are they… I’m really looking at this because I want to have some thoughtfulness in how I speak about this and how I think about it. And so, time and time again, I don’t care if we’re talking about basketball players or professional runners. They They are taking naps. They are taking naps in the day. They’re getting so much recovery. And that nap might be in addition to the time they’ve spent on the table with an athletic trainer or a massage therapist or anything like that. So my thought is if you have the opportunity, the space, the time. Here’s an example. Oftentimes on construction sites, a construction worker has the ability to go to their car at lunch. Okay. Sure. So, let’s say they go to their car at lunch, they have a quick bite, or they take 10 minutes at the beginning of their lunch, and they take a quick nap.

Then they have a bite, and then they go back on the job. Then, they do their warmup before they get back on the job. Because the thought is here you are exhausted from the five and a half hours of sleep you got the night before, and you woke up at 4:00 in the morning to get to work again. That’s just saying that that was, on average, what you’re getting. It wasn’t even interrupted by the dog or the kiddos or by you waking up just randomly. We’re not starting off at a good spot anyway. You’re exhausted, and what you’re going to do is you’re just going to continue to drink caffeine all day long. And then by three o’clock, you’re like, I got to drive home, so I got to have another cup of coffee or a Coca-Cola at worst. You’re going to have 39 grams of sugar and caffeine. And then at 9:30, when you should be going to bed, you can’t because you’re exhausted and jacked up on caffeine. So, it’s a repetitive motion. So how do we say, hey, have that cup of coffee in the morning? And then at 10:00, if you have that break or that lunch or whatever it is, take 10 minutes of that moment and just rest, close your eyes, close your eyes, see if you sleep.

Set that alarm so you wake up. And my hope is, and my thought is, that just a power net brings you back and gives you that boost of energy that you need way more than another cup of coffee would. But then you pair that with that movement right after you’ve gotten out of that. And that’s what really will help boost the energy, as opposed to just having you walk back into the job site like a zombie. So again, I don’t know how often this is going to be available to people or if this is just totally a pipe dream, and depending on the industry that you’re In, this is my main goal. We could actually have a conversation where someone wouldn’t glance at someone that’s a manual labor, sleeping. They wouldn’t be like, oh, lazy. Actually, oh, that’s good. They’re getting the rest that they need to pop back out there and actually be energetic for the rest of the day.

In all it takes, I was reading the other day is 10 minutes. It’s not an hour nap. It’s not a siesta for 2 hours. No. It’s 10 minutes.

Yeah. It really is a 10-minute window where, again, even if it’s just breathing, closed eyes, breathing. But I can’t tell you what’s the worst. The thing that we do instead is we’ve got our Monster Energy Drink and our telephone, and we’re in the worst slouched, awful position. Our neck is cranked over our phone, and we’re watching that for 15 minutes. Oh, my gosh. You can’t tell me you come back from that feeling better than you would if you just put everything down and closed your eyes for 10 minutes. And that’s, unfortunately, a habit that also it’d be hard not only from the executive and upper-level people to say, hey, naps would be good, but also from the employee and the job site athlete person to say, put your phone down, because they can’t look at their phone all day long. So they probably want that moment to be like, I want to relax. And that’s probably what they’re saying. But it’s not relaxing to watch whatever you’re watching in a bad position. You’re not giving your mind a break. That’s going to come from all sides to try to change that idea, too.

There’s a pro as well for the executive. It creates more alertness. It’s much better than caffeine. There’s no withdrawal system, no withdrawal from sugar or anything like that after, but it’s just 10 minutes.

That’s the idea.

Excellent. Kelly, thank you so much for joining us today. Somebody wants to get in touch with you. What’s the best way to do that?

You can go to Proventionplus.com. We are on Instagram and LinkedIn at Prevention Plus. It’s P-R-O-V-E-N-T-I-O-N, not prevention, prevention. Gosh, what I love about what we’re doing on Instagram is we’re sending out morning movements and ideas throughout the day about movement. I would suggest if you guys have a question about something that’s going on with you individually or something that’s happening on the job site, send a message. I’d love to get the input because we’re constantly trying to keep up with all of the movements that are happening and all of the things that need to be addressed through movement and movement prep. So please reach out. We’d love to hear from you.

Thank you so much, Kelly.

You’re so welcome. Thank you.

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. Elevate your safety. Like every successful athlete, top leaders continuously invest in their safety leadership with an expert coach to boost safety performance. Begin your journey at execsafetycoach.com. Come back in two weeks for the next episode with your host, Eric Michrowski. This podcast is powered by Propulo Consulting.

The Safety Guru with Eric Michrowski

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ABOUT THE GUEST

Kelly Lynch Feldkamp is the Founder of ProVention Plus, an onsite injury prevention company that is changing the way companies take care of their manual labor or craft employees. Kelly has a Master’s Degree in Exercise and Wellness and is the creator of the Move Better Program used by thousands of Jobsite Athletes over the last 20 years. Kelly has a passion for helping our Jobsite Athletes reduce the discomfort that many believe is an unfortunate but necessary part of the profession. 

Kelly and her team at ProVention Plus have been blessed to work with those who are most in need of injury prevention care but are also the least likely to seek it out for themselves. The evolving conversation around how we care for the Jobsite Athlete is a welcomed change for Kelly. She is playing an active role in moving the industry toward a place where pain is not an unfortunate by-product for the Jobsite Athletes who build the world we all enjoy.

For more information: https://proventionplus.com/

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