The Asparagus Response

I’ve been lucky in the sense that, for the most part, my children like vegetables. Well, “like” may be a strong term. Most vegetables they… permit. Broccoli is, believe it or not, high up on the requested vegetable list. For those of you with children, you know what a rarity that is. The one vegetable that I enjoy is asparagus. Of course, that is the one vegetable the kids hate. That means that it is not one I get to enjoy very often. Sometimes I will try to slip it in there when we open the floor for requests, “How about asparagus tonight? We haven’t had that in a while”, making a feeble attempt to win some enthusiasm for the doomed veggie. My request is met every time with the same response, unanimous eye-rolls followed by a resounding “UGH”.

Earlier this month I was sitting through a site-specific safety orientation that lasted just over four hours. Being a safety professional, not much of the information was new to me but I never let that drive me to complacency. As the class began and I switched into “eager student” mode, the instructor began by introducing himself and provided a brief background. He concluded the intro by informing us all (about 40) in the class that he was, “going to provide information that, if used properly, could potentially save your life”. No sooner had the words left his mouth when the two Gentlemen seated on either side of me rolled their eyes and let out a slightly audible, “UGH”.

It is shocking to me that there are responsible adults in the world that feel the same way about being given tools to avoid injury and death as my five-year-old feels about asparagus. These people are a double hazard because if they have such little regard for their own safety, do you think they are concerned with anyone else’s? Let’s change the parameters a bit. Do you think those two gentlemen would have had the same response if the instructor had announced that after the four-hour class, every attendee would receive one million dollars? I’m willing to bet with that kind of reward, they could extend the class to four days and no one would complain. Is your life not worth a million dollars? I say it’s worth much, much more than that. There is nothing more valuable than your life. If not to you then to the people that love you. My point is this… When someone is providing you safety information that could keep you from harm and potentially save your life, savor every single word. You are worth it. If you are offered asparagus and don’t like it, opt for broccoli… or give it to me. I’ll eat it.

Be safe out there.

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Confessions of a Serial Quitter

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As I sit on the plane headed back home to Houston from Denver, excited to see my family, I find myself reflecting over the past week and the time spent at the American Society of Safety Engineers Annual National Safety Conference, “Safety 2017”. To say my mind is reeling is putting it lightly. After hearing keynote speeches from incredibly motivational people and meeting some extremely knowledgeable folks, I feel like a rocket on a launch pad. I can already see the eye rolls from my peers on Monday when I burst into the office like the Kool-Aid Man. OH YEAH!!!!

I feel supercharged. I know there are thousands of other attendees on their way home feeling the same way and I hope it stays with them. I hope each and every one of them finds a way, large or small, to change their life, change the life of those around them and maybe change the world. There is one thing I want to point out about my experience, my motivation did not begin in the Mile-High Ball Room of the Colorado Convention Center on Tuesday morning. While it may have been realized there, my eyes opened about three weeks ago, in the kids’ playroom of my home.

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I am a quitter. It’s a hard thing to think, let alone to write or even say out loud. As hard as it is, it’s true. I have quit on some of the most important things in my past. I am not proud. Like most quitters, at the time, I didn’t think of what I was doing as quitting. I’d come up with some excuse as to why whatever I was doing was a “waste of time” or that I should just “cut my losses” when something wasn’t going my way. Just like anything in life, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Quitting became a breeze. I’d rationalize, I’d quit and when I started to feel guilty, I’d rationalize some more until I believed I had made the right choice. Years ago, I was testing for a local fire department. I had two tasks left and I was ahead of the time limit. I was winning. Then, as I began the second to last task, I threw in the towel. I quit. Why?! For years after I told myself that I became ill and was forced to quit. “I’ll come back and try again when I feel better”, I told myself. As I look back, sure I felt sick. I was exerting myself physically and mentally to extreme levels. Was this new to me? Absolutely not. I had pushed myself much harder before that. The truth is, I was scared, I was uncomfortable and I was filled with self-doubt. I was feeling mentally weak and I gave in to that weakness. I took the easy route.

So how does the playroom revelation come into the story? As I progress in my safety career and in my pursuit to be a better Father and Husband, I’ve started reading self help books. I know, cliche. I’ve read about taking ownership (Thanks Jocko and Leif) and I’ve read about leadership and how to communicate properly. While these books and speeches were not the catalyst to my awakening, they were the equivalent of switching to higher octane fuel. I began looking at things from a different perspective. I started to become more analytical of myself and the situations in which I found myself. Still, I was not there. Until three weeks ago. I recently purchased a kettlebell and found a “kettlebell Workout for Beginners” on Onnit.com (Thanks Joe Rogan). My goal was to swing the kettlebell and throw around the tractor tires that I had acquired about six months ago (and have sat untouched in my garage since) at least five times a week. I’ve used the kettlebells several times and the tires still sit unmoved. On this particular day, I had used the kettlebells maybe three or four times, so it was not new to me. I knew what to expect and it was not an easy workout. There are about a dozen exercises (more than the onnit.com workout but I modified it to include some other things). These exercises are done three times with a one minute break between reps. I use the kids’ playroom because the east wall is mirrored and I can watch myself to ensure proper form. I was sweaty, I was sore and I was feeling weak. As I began my third and final rep, my mind won the battle and I dropped to my knees. “I’m done”, I thought. Hey, two reps is better than no reps, right? I should feel good that I accomplished what I did! This wasn’t a failure, it was a double success. I worked out, right? From my knees, staring at myself in the mirror, something in me broke. Like a light coming on, I realized I was doing what I had always done when I was feeling weak. I was quitting. I could see my Wife in the living room and our two younger children playing around her. I had the realization then and there that I was a quitter. I had done it my whole life and I felt ashamed. I looked at them and I began to cry. Then something happened that I did not expect. I got to my feet. Cheeks wet with tears, I resumed my workout. Sore, tired, sweaty and full of disappointment in myself, I pushed through. While I did not make a promise to quit quitting right then and there, I did make a promise to myself and to my family (unbeknownst to them) that I was going to find a way to not be a quitter. I know you’re probably thinking, “wait a minute. You made a promise to find a way not to quit?! That’s not right! Just stop quitting!”. Look at it this way, I knew I wanted to build a house… I just didn’t have the hammer and nails to get it done. What I promised was to start gathering lumber and drawing up blueprints.

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So, as I sit here on my way home, head buzzing with ideas and plans for professional and self-improvement, I understand that I did not find my motivation at Safety 2017. I was handed the tools to build my house. To build my better me. Armed with tools like the 5 Second Rule (thanks Mel) and surrounding myself with the people I want to emulate (thanks Vinh) I am now ready to explode forward. I will do better. I will BE better. I make this promise to you; my colleagues, my peers, my team, my friends and to my Wife and my children…

I will not quit.

An iPhone in the Amazon

It was a common theme not too long ago… violate a safety rule, get taken to the gate. For those that may not be familiar with “the gate”, it means you were fired. No questions asked, no explanation, do not pass go, do not collect $200. Generally speaking, the rules being broken usually were high level directives. Ones that, if they were not enforced and/or followed would result in serious injury or death. For example, fall protection violations. If you don’t tie off while working at height, you could fall and be killed, therefore, if you are caught not tied off working at height, you are fired. One particular day on a construction project, not too long ago in a galaxy… well, it was this galaxy. I was wandering though a work area on a group safety audit when low and behold, we happened upon an employee working on top of a small structure. He was wearing the required fall protection equipment but was not tied off. A safety representative summoned him to ground level and subsequently had him escorted to the gate. As we stood next to the structure discussing the event (life critical safety violations require quite a bit of paperwork), the employee’s Supervisor walks out to almost the exact same spot on which the employee was standing, also not tied off. Ten minutes later, he too was escorted out of the gate. It bothered me to watch two men, possibly with families, lose their jobs within minutes of each other. As I voiced my disapproval I was told, “They both ignored training. If we let them stay it will eventually end in an incident for the project and we will not have that”. I understood the sentiment but I did not agree.

When my youngest daughter was not even two years old, she was able to pick up her Mother’s iPhone, slide her little finger across the screen to bring up the keypad and enter my Wife’s security code to unlock the device. We were dumbfounded. We had created possibly the smartest child to ever live. The older children may have been sightly offended by this observation. It dawned on us later that, while she is an extremely bright child, it was not necessarily her intelligence level that granted her superior hacking abilities. She lives in a house that had, at the time, three iPhone operators. Now take my Wife’s iPhone then fly, boat and eventually walk deep into the Amazon jungle. There are to this day, small pockets of tribes that have not had exposure to the outside world. One was found as recently as this year. Look it up… they exist. Imagine meeting one of these tribes and handing over my Wife’s phone to one of the village elders. Tell them, “Here, this is a smart phone. You can make calls and check Facebook with it”. I think it is safe to surmise they would have no idea what you handed them, let alone what it does or how to operate it. The entire concept of communicating that way does not even exist to them.

Let’s go back to the two employees that violated the fall protection policy. I said earlier that I did not agree that they should have so quickly been escorted from the project and I stand by that. Do I think no employee should ever be removed for violating a safety directive, especially a life critical one? Absolutely not. Sometimes you can correct and coach until you are out of breath. Sometimes the message just isn’t received. In those rare cases of blatant disregard for safety, yes they need find a work environment better suited to their needs. What I am a firm believer in is opening dialog. We corrected the problem on a project level by eliminating the risk… to us. What we failed to do was determine WHY those men were working without being tied off. In my growing number of years as a safety professional, most of the time the answer to that question is simply a lack of understanding. Ensuring that the employees understand why they  are required to abide by safety directives and also ensuring that information is received will correct unsafe behavior a large portion of the time. Without the proper knowledge, those men will more that likely continue to work unsafe until either corrected properly or an incident occurs.

So how do we ensure communication has been received adequately? I think we can agree that not everyone is alike, right? Just like we cannot communicate to every person the exact same way, we cannot assume every person will receive the given message the exact same way. Think of the telephone game… you start with a line of people and whisper a message the first person in the line, “the payphone is blue and only takes quarters”. The message is then passed from person to person down the line. By the time you get to the last person the message usually has changed. “The pick up truck is red and only takes diesel fuel”. In the essence of time and logistics, especially in a project or turnaround setting where you may be training dozens of people a day, you may not have the luxury of individualized training for each intended audience member. Standardized communication (training) can be provided but we must make sure that the information is received adequately by the employee. An easy way for general info could be a written test or work place evaluation. For more specialized information with higher consequence, a brief one on one with follow ups may be necessary. The thing to remember is to never assume without verifying. When in doubt, remember the iPhone in the Amazon… COMMON SENSE IS NOT COMMON!

If you like what you’ve read, please share and subscribe! If you have something to add or would like to discuss further, please let me know in the comments. I’m still looking for contributors for The Safety Nerd so if you have something to share or a story to tell, I’d love to hear it! As always, be safe out there.

“You want great leaders? Because That’s How You Get Great Leaders.”

Last week I was not only lucky enough to attend but also present at my employer’s first ever Leadership Summit. To say it was a success is a massive understatement. Am I biased because I work for the greatest company ever? Maybe a little. Towards the end of last year, our Executive Team met with the purpose of evaluating and defining the culture of the company. Extremely important to the future of any endeavor, this was phase one. Phase two takes us to the Leadership Summit. This was where we provided the knowledge to our front line leadership in just that, how to lead. We planned to provide them with the tools necessary to take that newly learned knowledge back to the field and convey it effectively to their folks. I could go on and on about the Summit (and perhaps I will later…) but for now, I’d like to impart some wisdom that I was honored to be able to share at the summit. Leadership Summit_2

Being a boss is easy. “do this… don’t do that”. My personal favorite… “because I said so”. It takes so much more than just being able to tell someone what to do. Being a LEADER is something completely different. I had a conversation with my oldest boy who has recently begun working for a very large restaurant chain that shall remain nameless. After picking him up and as we drove back to the house I could feel the frustration radiating off of him. He explained to me that his Manager ran the shift with a iron fist. Long story short… she was a BOSS. She preferred making demands to setting expectations and coaching. It is a popular misconception that in order for management to be successful, you only need to be able to delegate effectively. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Even a Drill Instructor, with all of their barking and yelling, has a grand plan. There is method to the madness. So by now I know you’re asking, “tell me, Dano… how do I become an effective leader?!” the truth is… I don’t know. What I CAN do is offer some insight into what has helped me on the path to success.

LEADERS MUST BELIEVE WHAT THEY TEACH

It’s a simple statement that can completely change the way your message is both delivered to and received by your team. Believing is ground zero. Many, many years ago I briefly worked for a manufactured home builder (that shall also remain nameless). I was hired on to sell said homes from a lot, not unlike a car dealership. After a rigorous and very effective sales training course, I was set loose to sell manufactured homes to the world. A few weeks had gone by and I was yet to make my first sale. One particular day a very clean cut gentleman pulled up to the sales office in a very VERY nice car. My lucky day, I was next up to bat. I greeted the Gentleman and asked how I could help him. He informed me that he had recently purchased some land on the lake and was looking to place a lake house on said property. I crinkled my brow and nodded my head. Quite the predicament… I sure hope I can help remedy your land without house quandary. Then he hit me with the bomb. “If we can find the right fit, I will be purchasing the home upFront”. I won’t bore you with the details but these homes were not cheap and without having to finance the purchase, that mean’t a boost in the office sales numbers as well as a hefty first commission for yours truly. I grinned ear to ear and took him to our top level homes to begin my polished sales pitch. As we walked through one of the more palatial homes, I described in great detail the expert craftsmanship, top of the line building materials and benefits of owning one of these fantastic domiciles. As I rambled on, all the while imagining what I was going to buy with my hefty commission, the gentleman held up his hand, the universal signal for, “stop talking”.  I stopped mid sentence. He raised an eyebrow and asked, “Let me ask you something, do you live in one of these?” That was easy. “Sir, with my wages I cannot afford such luxury. No, I rent from a family friend at a discount”. Check. “Okay, let me rephrase the question”, he retorted. “If you could afford it, WOULD you live in one of these?” I was stunned. I had no response other that a meek, “no”. Check and mate. The gentleman thank me for my time, walked out of the home, got into his very fancy car and drove away. Fifteen minutes later, I quit.

If you do not believe in what you are selling,  you will not be able to sell it. The key to being able to believe it is to understand fully what you are trying to sell to your team. If you just absolutely cannot buy into what you are selling, that’s okay! Find something you can. It’s amazing the things you can accomplish when you find something you believe in.

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LEADERS MUST TEACH WHAT THEY BELIEVE

You can draw diagrams, you can have charts and graphs but if you do not teach your team WHY, you are wasting your time. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, in their book Extreme Ownership, talk about helping your team see the big picture. This is critical to achieving effective results. Help your team understand. So many times I’ve seen team leaders receive a directive, then relay that directive to their team peppered with eye rolls and sighs. When the team fails to understand the reasoning behind the directive, they are told, “that’s just the way the higher ups want it, that’s just how it is”. The plan has failed before it even had a chance to flourish. There is a fantastic Ted Talk by Simon Sinek in which he discusses starting with the WHY when selling a belief. I don’t think there is a more accurate way to go about it. I won’t attempt to rehash what Mr. Sinek is trying to convey. Click the link, watch the talk. Be a mentor. Teach the why.

 LEADERS MUST PRACTICE WHAT THEY TEACH

We’ve all heard this before, perhaps worded a little differently but the idea is still the same; Do not ask your team to do anything you have not, would not or DO not do yourself. If you post a requirement that protective eye wear must be worn in a certain area and then do not wear protective eye wear in that area, you can guarantee that, after time, no one else will either. Integrity is a key ingredient to becoming an effective leader. Don’t just set the standard, BE THE STANDARD.

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Am I an expert? No. I struggle every day to become that better leader. At work, at home, as a parent, spouse and a member of the human race. I try every day to be a better person. The three tenets I’ve discussed here have helped make a noticeable difference. Hopefully they can do the same for you. If you have anything to add or would like to discuss further, let me know in the comments. Don’t forget to share and subscribe and as always…

Be safe.

Calling All Safety Nerds!

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Fancy yourself a writer? Want to get your message out there? I’m looking for other safety professionals and people enthusiasts that would like to contribute to The Safety Nerd! Taking submissions now!

(This is a free gig. No pay. I know… you’re thinking, “how is this guy not raking in the cash with such an awesome website?!”)

Welcome to the 21st Century

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A little over a year ago, I was skimming through LinkedIn, perusing articles listing new safety guidelines, which professional certifications are better than others and who was hiring for what project where. All of a sudden, there it was… “Ten Things That Keep Safety Professionals Up at Night”. My eyes widened as my excitement grew. Yes, tell me these ten things so that, if I’m not already, I can be worried about them too! I don’t call this site The Safety Nerd for nothing. I clicked the link and settled back in my chair, prepared to be edified. My excitement quickly dissolved into disappointment when I realized, I had been duped. This was no article at all but an advertisement. I rolled my eyes as I read the opening line, “EHS Software for Sustainable Enterprises”. UGH. This is not what I wanted to… wait, what? As I read on, my excitement returned with a vengeance. Little did I know that a year later, this EHS software system was going to revolutionize my company’s Safety Department and the way I operate as a Safety Manager. This particular software system that would have such a profound effect on the way we operate is known as EHS Insight. So what exactly does EHS Insight do and how did it become such an instrumental tool in the revitalization of our safety program? Like most companies out there, we were relying on paper reports and text / email notifications. It had worked thus far but there had been system failures. Incidents sometimes didn’t get reported in a timely manner (or at all, on occasion). I learned that different sites had various versions of report forms and retrieving historical data was a gamble. Each site was responsible for the storage of safety related documents; reports, behavior based observations, job hazard analysis, safety audits, etc. There was no accountability. Almost immediately after integrating EHS Insight into out safety program, the difference was stunning. You’re probably asking by now, “What’s so great about this futuristic safety game-changer”. Allow me to explain.

  1. Mobile Capability – With the purchase of an EHS Insight subscription, users will have access to the app, which is offered for download in both the Apple and Android stores. Rather than waiting to sit down at a computer or find the proper paperwork, employees can utilize the app filling out forms or researching documents right from their mobile device. There is an added benefit of offline capability. Forms can be stored when working offline and sent when the device reconnects. Place the app on an intrinsically safe device and you now have real time information sharing directly from the field, straight to the corporate office.

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  1. Dash Board – As I run through all of the features of EHS Insight, the dash board is the unsung hero. As information is uploaded from sites across the US, the information is computed in real time and displayed for easy access. TRIR, DART, LTIR, etc. are all readily available and current.
  2. Incident Reporting – Should an incident occur, the responsible party completes an “Incident Notification”, which is automatically sent to all persons that have been pre-loaded into the notification group. You can determine who gets notified based on the severity of the incident as well. The incident report itself operates on a “see it when you need it” type format. What I mean is, the form builds as you answer questions related to the incident. Is it an injury? The form will change to include information regarding the injured person. Asset damage? The form will ask for asset information. The system will only ask you for information pertinent to the incident, which saves time and eliminates confusion. Once completed, the system will notify involved persons as to the progress of the report. Reports are stored and can be recalled whenever needed. Some added features of the incident report function is the communication log, used to track non-electronic communications regarding the incident. There is also the Corrective Action / Preventative Action (CAPA) feature, which I will explain shortly.
  3. Audits & Inspections – Such a simple title for such an invaluable tool. With the Audits & Inspection feature, you can build custom questionnaire forms. So far, I have built and employed a vehicle inspection form, field safety audit, office safety audit and fall protection component inspection forms. Our compliance department is about to start using this feature for their own program. You are only limited by your imagination. As with the incident reporting procedure, these forms are stored electronically and can be recalled at any time in the event of an audit. An Added benefit is the ability to run reports to show which sites have completed their required audits and inspections. In other words, instant accountability. You can create CAPA’s here as well. Don’t worry, I didn’t forget. I’ll get to it.
  4. Training Management – No more paper training files. A training profile can be built for every employee. Training can be requested or assigned through the system and once complete, tracked as well. A report can reveal shortcomings in training from a company level, site level or all the way down to the individual employee. A recently added feature is the ability to create and share computer based training courses.
  5. Mobile Library – Safety manual, safety data sheets, alerts, operating procedures, newsletters and just about any other document you would like your employees to receive instantly and have readily available. Let me give you a scenario. What does HSE Policy 24, section 1.2.1 say? Let me pull out my mobile device and tell you word for word. Did I mention it’s mobile? Yeah. It’s mobile.
  6. Work Observations – Utilizing the mobility and an intrinsically safe device, BBS observations can be performed in real time, electronically. Recorded information can be pooled with other gathered information for sites across the country and tallied to identify and address trends on a much larger scale.
  7. Corrective Action / Preventative Action – Ah… my new best friend, the CAPA. A few years ago I was providing safety oversight for a construction project. During a site audit I had found that an off-road vehicle was being operated without brakes. You read that correctly, no brakes. After some choice language and removal of the vehicle keys, I began my investigation. Come to find out, the employees had performed a daily inspection as they were required to do. They even filled out the paper inspection form. As I poured over days worth of inspection forms I found that they had recorded the lack of brakes for approximately 3 weeks. I found all of these inspection forms in a folder, buried among other folders, on the dashboard of the Supervisor’s truck. The forms were reviewed once they were sent to the field office… once a month. A deficiency that is recorded is only effective if accountability exists. Every form in EHS Insight offers the opportunity to create a CAPA, which is then assigned electronically to a specific person and is added to their task list until it is completed. Even better, CAPA tasks can be escalated, if you want to add extra accountability. You can also assign a review to ensure the CAPA is effective. Keep in mind that just like everything else with this software, it is mobile and the notifications are nearly instant. Accountability achieved.

Towards the end of last year I was invited to a “Deep Dive” audit by one of our clients. The Site Supervisor carried two banker’s boxes of historical paperwork into the audit, I carried my tablet. The client safety representative looked at me like I was a lunatic. By the end of the audit I was told that we had “a very mature safety program for such a small contractor”. I was also asked how they could get in touch with the makers of EHS Insight. My goal for the next Deep Dive audit is to ONLY carry in my tablet. Imagine, all the info you would need right at your finger tips.

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In closing I would like to say that I do not receive any compensation or favor from EHS Insight for singing their praises. They employ a tremendously helpful customer and technical support staff. The system is incredibly easy to use and extremely cost effective for the results. I’m just a happy customer and a fan. That being said, there are several companies out there that offer a similar product. Find what works for you and your program. If anyone out there has some input, I always love to hear it. If anyone would like to have more conversation regarding EHS Insight, let me know in the comments!

Be safe out there.

 

Winning of Hearts & Minds

I was on a construction project years back and as I made my way through the unit during a formal safety audit, I began to recognize a pattern. As I walked through a particular area, occupied by a particular contractor group, I realized that all work would cease even before we were in view. I started to keep track and after a few more passes, saw that there was a foreman that would signal to his employees that members of the safety team were approaching. This was usually accomplished by some sort of whistle or chirp. It reminded me of a prison movie I had seen when I was a kid (Screw’s comin!). Once the message was received, his work crew would put down their tools and step away from what they were doing. I won’t lie, my initial reaction was anger. Well, maybe shock THEN anger. Before reacting, I was able to collect myself. I approached the foreman with a smile and an extended hand as I introduced myself.

The foreman was surprisingly friendly. There was no animosity. He knew who I was from site orientation and the numerous safety meetings I had conducted over the life of the project. I made it more personal this time. I asked his name and how long he had been at his craft. We made small talk and joked briefly. Then came the real question. “Why is it every time either myself or a member of the safety team  comes into your work area you signal your employees to stop working?” I got right to the point. Without any though and with a smile on his face he responded, “because I don’t want my guys or me to get fired”. His blunt yet honest response consternated me. I assume my blank stare begged for clarification because he took my silence as excuse to continue. “That’s what the safety man does. You mess up, he gets you fired”. There it was… Because that’s what the safety man does… Ouch. Image result for alcatraz prison guard

Once again, within the span of a few short minutes, my emotions turned immediately to anger. Once again, I was able to suppress the urge to react and composed myself. I will try to relay as best I can to you my response. I have trouble remembering word for word exactly what I said. Over the years it has evolved and grown but the basic idea remains the same to this day. Here goes:

First and foremost, if you are directing your employees to stop work when a safety professional is in the area, you are not helping them. Quite the opposite in fact. You are setting them up for failure. Would you ask your employee to hammer nails and then take away their hammer? No. By not allowing my colleagues and me the ability to observe you and your employees as you work, to view your practices and habits, you are essentially asking your employees to hammer nails with their forehead. The reason we observe work habits and procedures is find deficiencies, not to escort workers to the gate but to correct them to avoid injury!  Yes, it’s that simple! The reason I became a safety profession was due to my time as an emergency medical technician. So many times as I was treating a patient I would think, “this could have easily been avoided”. That turned from wishful thinking to, “if not me, then who?” By allowing my colleagues and me the ability to observe and correct, you are handing your employees another resource. What better way to operate than knowing there is someone behind you that is watching out for your safety. In fact, that is their sole function! The best way to protect your employees is to allow us to do our job. The “safety man” or… the Safety Professional does not fire people. In my years of providing this service, I have never fired someone over an unsafe act. I will educate. I will provide opportunity for the employee to learn and become more aware. THAT is what the safety professional does.

  

I know, unfurl the flag behind me and cue the flute music, right? It may sound canned now but it is important to know that at the time, I was realizing everything I was saying as I was saying it. It dawned on me that the conversation was just as important to me as it was to the foreman. This conversation has become a staple for me in changing the minds of workers and supervisors who may have a negative view of people in our beloved profession. I’ve found it effective with even the most staunch safety opponent (yes, they do exist). It satisfies my soul every time I get to see the proverbial light bulb come on in someones mind because the seeds of safety culture have been planted… and that is how it begins, one person at a time.

Oh… and from that day forward, that same foreman met me at the barricade of his work area and walked me through every time after. He would explain what his employees were doing, provide permits and JSA’s without me even asking. He gave the hammer back to his employees.

Be safe out there.