One responder to the “humanising OHS” series of articles did not want their identity online and I will respect their wishes. What I will say is that they have been an OHS professional in Australia for some time and is very active trainer in workplace health and safety. Our writer also suggested three additional questions which I will consider for the future
- When are you happiest at work?
- When are you most sad?
- What would you tell a OHS graduate on their first day?
How did you get into Health & Safety?
A friend in Sydney caught me at a weak moment in 2004 and we started a safety company together (without qualifications or experience), with another friend which is still running today
What drives you?
What helps you slow down?
Golf, computer games, music and quiet time in the car when driving home after a days work
Any OHS Regrets?
Not getting into OHS in the 1990s when someone first told me about the industry
Favourite fiction writer?
Too many. A quick scan of the bookshelf has multiples of Coben, Baldacchi, Connolly, Childs, Conroy, Ludlum, Wilbur Smith, Reichs, Gerritsen, Reilly, Nesbo, Larrson, McDiarmid, McBride, Eddings
What is one OHS trend you are watching keenly?
Organisational decision making and the Trump inspired movement away from facts to opinions and ignorance in decision making. A trend I wish was happening was the encouragement and support by Regulators of bullied and harassed workers. The bar is too high for bullied workers to jump. The interpretation of reasonable management action is too broad and there is a conflict of interest of having the Regulator under the same roof and management as the insurer.
Person/s who you watch and take inspiration from in OHS that you think will have an increasing impact in the sector.
Most of the work around systems I believe has been done. What has not been done is the work needed around psychological issues which are more destructive than unguarded machines. No-one I have discovered is truly addressing this and the line between psychology, psychiatry and OHS is blurred. Mental harm is largely non-quantifiable, so it is hard to study and hard to assess if you are an examiner.
What are you most excited about in our sector?
A growing recognition that simplification of systems is more important than exacting detail if that is all that is needed. One form that is used is more useful than a hundred that are not. I applaud a re-examination of the purpose of collecting data. Are we collecting data for the sake of it, or to look busy, or clever, or to get information to help improve the state of affairs?
What’s your favourite quote?
Safety quote. “When you make something idiot proof, they come up with a better idiot”. Anonymous.
Life Quote. “Alone we are born and die alone. Yet see the red-gold cirrus over snow mountain lie. Upon the upland road, ride easy stranger. Surrender to the sky your heart of anger”. James K Baxter (Hemi) New Zealand. (Don’t sweat the small stuff)
Biggest issue facing the OHS profession?
Lack of renewal and need for fresh blood and new thinking. Stultifying conformity. Industry too dominated by ambitious corporate players. Original thinking being stifled. Non-safety departments in corporations with no training or qualifications believing they know enough about safety to manage it.
What do you wish you had understood about OHS sooner?
Proper consultation and facilitation of problem solving by involving workers EARLY. Also the need for public and demonstrated leadership of safety as a valued part of the business by the most senior managers. The recognition that most of the good thinking comes from workers exposed to the risks.
What would you like to see to improve collaboration in OHS?
A tweak of the legislation to more clearly spell out this aspect of safety as a requirement.
What should you have been doing whilst you answered this?
Nothing more important than exchanging ideas and thoughts. Make time for it and prioritise this collegial thinking as a way of nurturing the mind. It may save a life. “If I stop learning, then I am dead and waiting for my competitors to bury me” Willie Paton.
When are you happiest at work.
“when a skill has been learned or an idea recognised by a worker or manager and you see it being used well”.
When are you most sad.
“When I see the spark of enthusiasm and hope being crushed by persons who are ignorant, paranoid, stuck in their ways or sociopathic”
What would you tell a OHS graduate on their first day.
Let your studies guide you, not rule you.