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As we wind down the year, our hearts are filled with gratitude for our special guests who’ve enriched our show with their expertise and insights. This year, we welcomed many inspiring voices from around the world, including renowned academics, safety motivational speakers, and top industry leaders. Dive in with your host, Eric Michrowski, as he highlights our podcast’s most impactful insights and top themes of 2023.
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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. I’m your host, Eric Michrowski, and welcome to our year-end special episode. But first and foremost, I want to wish each and every one of you happy holidays. As we wind down this year, it’s time for us to pause, reflect, and express our heartfelt gratitude. In 2023, we embarked on an enlightening journey exploring the extensive themes and insights with our global guests. Together, we’ve explored and learned always with a singular goal of making a workplace safer and allowing everyone to go home safely to their loved ones. One of the reasons this year has been so special is the army of incredible guests from around the world who have joined our show. From Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, as well as Norway, we’ve had the privilege of hosting experts with global perspectives. We’ve welcomed renowned academics who share the latest in cutting-edge research, motivational safety speakers who inspired change with their compelling stories, and top industry leaders who provided insights into the real-world applications of safety culture. To all our special guests, we would like to extend our appreciation. Your passion, insights, and dedication to improving safety culture have immeasurably enriched our show and, most importantly, made a huge impact on our listeners. And, of course, to you, our cherished listeners, we extend our deepest appreciation. Your support, engagement, and feedback have been the driving force behind every episode.
So, as we wrap up this year, let’s journey once more through the most memorable insights and the sparks of inspiration. I’ve categorized this year into four main themes.
The first one is around human factors and safety management systems. Gareth Lock came on our show twice to give us a deep dive into organizational learning and safety culture, emphasizing the impact of storytelling in navigating organizational learning. He touched on decision-making, safety culture, and his application of human performance to the diving world. Martin Anderson shared really interesting stories about human factors that are behind all key organizational failures, emphasizing the imperative to understand and learn these factors to foster safer workplaces. What was really interesting about his episode was the links between failures in banking, failures in business, and failures in the military, as well as failures that have safety implications in industry. We welcome Jim Francis, who talked about the importance of implementing a safety management system and also how these key elements around safety management are tightly integrated with safety culture to accelerate performance. We had Rob Shaw, who shared some scientific approaches to eliminating workplace hazards around slips, trips, and falls, going much deeper than the usual stories that we hear but really getting into two core strategies around both shoes and flooring that can have a significant impact in reducing some of these hazards. Really interesting stories there.
Our second theme was around leadership and safety. We welcomed Dr. Kirsten Ferguson, who’s Australia’s most prominent leadership expert, who shared her stories about head and heart leadership and the research behind her most recent book, Head and Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership. Pick up a copy if you haven’t already. What’s interesting about the episode is that she talks about knowing which tallies are needed and when. She also touched on safety governance, which was a topic that she had studied many years ago and is, in fact, probably one of the few experts in the world on this topic of safety governance, really the role of the governance team or the top management team, as well as corporate governance. We welcome Dr. David Hoffman, who shared his research on safety, climate, and leadership, some really key elements around what he calls multilevel aspects of improving safety culture and getting into decisions that leaders make and how these can impact safety performance. There are some fascinating elements around the proximity of people making decisions to those at risk and how that could impact decision-making. Anton Guinea tackled leadership under pressure. Boy, few people I’ve ever talked to have been in so many key catastrophic events. He emphasized the importance of conscious control as well as keeping calm under intense pressure. He also touched on psychological safety and the impact it has on physical safety. And then we can’t forget Scott, intake Kartvedt, who joined the Blue Angels but was also a stunt pilot in the movie Top Gun Maverick, and he talked about the importance of cultivating a robust safety culture. He also touched on attention to detail and operational discipline. One story that really touched me, really marked me, was this element around how tiny details matter. And every time you missed the detail in the Blue Angels and training, you’d have to put money into a jar. That quickly got people to follow very tightly with operational discipline. And then we had Carsten Busch who revisited the history of safety, bringing some of the past with the present. He revisited with me Heinrich’s pyramid and dispelled some of those myths. And he’s also nicknamed the Indiana Jones of Safety for a reason.
The third theme this year was workplace wellbeing and mental health. We had lots of really interesting guests that touched on this topic. We had Anna Feringa from Australia, who emphasized the crucial link between mental health, safety as well as, psychosocial risk, and touched on the new legislations that are coming about in Australia around psychosocial risk, and really touched on the importance that we can’t be safe unless we have a healthy mind. We’re more likely to make unsafe decisions if our mind isn’t in the best shape. We also had John Toomey from Australia, who presented some innovative strategies to address core injury drivers in the workplace. He’s the author of a book called In It for the Long Hall, making the most of the FIFO lifestyle: fly in, fly out. I also enjoyed joining him at a conference he hosted recently – World Workplace Wellbeing Online Summit. A really important element of his episode was the power of storytelling, great, great stories that shared his message about showing care for each other. We had Dr. Liz Kirk, who showed her research about self-care competencies with some practical, ergonomic tips, particularly in computer-intensive roles. She had some very insightful, very simple ideas to help in our increasingly sedentary and screen-intensive work styles. She touched on something she called personal protective behaviors, getting into elements such as postural mindfulness and developing some habits to release muscle tension. Great episode. If you work in front of a computer, simple, easy to grasp tips. We also had Carrie Taylor who shared some effective ergonomic practices for high-risk industries and really touched on the importance of these programs and how you can get employee engagement around them. We have Petra Velzeboer, who’s a renowned mental health expert and TEDx speaker. She touched on the importance of individual responsibility when it comes to mental health but also highlighted the importance of the role of leaders in supporting their teams. Great episode. It has really cool insights into mental health and a more preventative mindset. We had Captain Charles Curreri. He was a former Air Force F-16 pilot and retired American Airlines Airbus A-320 captain. He was a key founder behind a project called Project Wingman, which is really about creating peer-to-peer hotlines and phenomenal stories around going much beyond employee assistance programs to create a very safe environment, but really taking care of your people and their wellbeing. These fascinating stories, are well worth a listen. If you are really looking at new programs and new ways of addressing mental health, great insights from that episode. As well as Manuel Almaguer, who is from the Denver Fire Department, touched on very similar themes in terms of the Denver Fire Department, where they started realizing that they had focused so much on line-of-duty deaths but that suicides were starting to outpace line-of-duty deaths in the fire service. So, I really touched on the importance of stressors and risk factors and also built a very similar program around peer-to-peer hotlines. Great example, together with Captain Charles Curreri, in terms of approaches that people can take in their organizations to make a real impact. And last but not least, in this category, Anna de Vena underscored the profound implications of sleep deprivation on safety. Really good episode. I came across key insights around how we get better sleep—practical applications on that front. Too often, that’s an area where we’re not as rested as we should. We do know there’s a very strong link between how rested we are and how likely we are to make errors and mistakes when it comes to safety.
Finally, our fourth category was some of the motivational speakers we had this year. We had Steve Howe, who talked about his injury, but also his transformation to become the safety director at Emma Anderson Group. What I loved about his episode was really the simplicity of his message, really that safety. We need to make it simple so that everybody’s engaged and participates around it. Cool insights in that episode. We had Lisa Ramos and David Garner really touched on the best gift one can provide the family members around safety and sharing about forklift incidents that she had in the workplace and some of the elements there in terms of employee participation, surfacing risks, really rich in stories. We had Steven Kerby, who shared a really powerful story about the impact of safety bonuses. Here, this one really shocked me. He talked about an incident, a very, very life-changing incident, and how many years later he discovered that incident had actually never been reported because it would have probably impacted safety bonuses. And surprising how all the details behind it were hidden in many ways. It’s a really interesting, important element to understand because all of us are looking at how we improve safety and looking at bonuses and how that can play into it. It’s worth listening to. We have Tom Corfield, who addressed prioritizing safety for new front-line workers and how to minimize production pressure. He was on one of his first few days working when he got seriously injured. But now, great news: this year, he just got married following the episode that we had on The Safety Guru. We also had Theo Venter, who is the only known survivor of a 22,000-volt electric shock. Can you imagine that? 22,000 volts crossing your body. He awakened listeners to the dangers of shortcuts and the responsibility of personal accountability. In this particular case, he saw one person bend the rule, in this particular case, around not wearing rubber gloves for a second. And it was okay until it wasn’t okay anymore. The importance of really sticking to the rules and being accountable to oneself, but also the impact of culture. And finally, we had Helen Fitzroy, who shared a powerful story. Her husband, Steve, experienced a workplace fatality in an underground mining incident in 1991, and she made it a mission in her life to be a safety advocate through her husband’s mining incident. A touching story.
Thank you for joining us throughout this season. Please note that we won’t have an episode on December 28th as we take a break for the holidays. However, we’ll be back in January, ready to deliver more exciting content. In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy the holiday celebrations—happy holidays from The Safety Guru.
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.
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ABOUT THE GUEST
Eric Michrowski is a globally recognized thought leader and guru in Operations and Safety Culture Transformations. A highly sought-after Executive speaker on the global stage, he has led executive training programs, coached the C-Suite, and connected with thousands of Fortune 500 senior leaders. His approach is anchored in evidence-based research and practical applications in Human Performance, Process Excellence, and Organizational Change. He brings over 25 years of hands-on experience in Operations Management, Culture & Business Transformations, and Safety, having worked across a broad range of industries.
For more information: https://www.ericmichrowski.com/
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