Search Results for: Purpose

SoSSB 10P 02 Purpose



Safety Tip #2 in the series


The purpose of this series is to give struggling-but-eager SHE professionals and practitioners, who are working for financially-constrained companies, pointers on how to get the safety awareness message across to both management and workers, on a shoestring budget.

Today’s topic, PURPOSE, introduces the concept of SERVANT-LEADERSHIP: Your role as a manager is to HELP those who work in your organisation to do their jobs properly and safely.  Your PURPOSE is to “Be a FACILITATOR, not a COMPLICATOR”.

‘n boer maak ‘n plan**

You’ve heard this phrase how many times?  “Make a plan”.  “Find a way.”

Timken Wire QuickFix / ShortCut

And if you don’t help people, they will – with whatever is at hand or can be found or is within their means – wire, cable ties, tape, cardboard, plastic bottles and sheeting, wood.

(There’s alot of innovative energy when workers experience pain or want to make their jobs easier or their work lighter or don’t have the resources to do their jobs the right way.)

Admit it. You’ve seen it.

When I walk about in companies, I especially look out for the wire-tape-cardboard quickfixes. When I see them, I know there is a lack of support from management:

  • a lack of resources, often time and money
  • a lack of standards or enforcement of standards, allowing poor standards from home to be brought into the work place
  • a lack of presence, guidance and supervision
  • a lack of monitoring and control and management-on-the-feet (MBWA* or GOYA*)
It’s empowerment gone wrong.

You can’t make sure people understand the consequences of makeshift solutions, short cuts and poor standards, UNLESS you are providing what they need.  

You can only hold them accountable when the HELPER-FACILITATOR-MANAGER has done his / her job.

If you’re going to empower the worker (and you should), you have to provide the resources, guidance and standards.

Go WALK AROUND ground-zero – the shop floor, rock face, coal face.

ASK the people who push-the-buttons-and-use-the-tools:


DO NOT ASSUME you know what they need.  Just ASK!

* “MBWA” = Management By Walking About       * “GOYA” = Get Off Your ‘Ass’
** If you would like to read the story “Boer Maak ‘n Plan”, you can request it here.
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SCnSP – Rework Your Safety Approach

Feb 2018

Re‘-Work Your Safety Approach

Including your H&S Rep Training

Empowered Safety Rep


Let’s re-examine the real reason why safety is important.

We want our employees to return home to reunite with their families, every day. We want our assets and plants to remain in a safe and productive state. We want to re-use our resources and be relentless in reducing waste and effluent. Our operations need to be refined to reach the goal of reliably producing environment-friendly products.

Often, one of the causes of problems with safety is that we repeat old mistakes, over and over and over again. We need to recollect and learn from the past. One of the ways to do this is by conducting managerial reviews as part of our management system and standards.

The ‘RE‘ words

These are really important for safety because they’re action words and safety is not a once-off exercise.

RETURN  to the basics of safety.
REDISCOVER  the power of people – driven by a safety vision.
REQUEST  involvement and participation by all in safety.
REVIEW  your safety approach – reactive or proactive?
RECONSIDER  your safety recipe – approach.
RENEW  your safety systems and approach.
REFRESH  your approach – no papers, posters and pamphlets.
REINVENT  how you engage your people in safety.
REFLECT  on your attitude towards safety.
RECOGNISE  safe  behaviour and results.
REINFORCE  safe behaviour.
REWARD  Disruptive Safety[1] – better, faster, cheaper, safer.
RECHARGE  your safety efforts – our safety batteries are limited.
RETHINK  the repercussions of taking chances.
RECALL  incidents and remind employees of the consequences.
REVISE and REWRITE  your procedures to include safety.
RE-EXAMINE  what is preventing safety success.
REMOVE  causes of / reasons for unsafe behaviour.
RECTIFY  unsafe conditions promptly.
REPAIR  broken or damaged equipment or assets.
RESTORE  safety equipment and devices.
REPRIMAND  reckless behaviour.


The word REACT is not in the above list because that is the most important behaviour / action to avoid in safety. A reactive approach focuses on compliance and corrective action only, rather than on prevention and doing the right things.
Also note that the words REVIEW, RECONSIDER, RENEW and REFRESH are all key to Disruptive Safety™ and that is why we have created The Safety Rep’s Survival Guide and are running in-house workshops.

Picture: Disruptive safety call to action icon

Ask yourself and your team:

Are you giving your internal customers (company employees) what they need or ordered, or are you merely flogging them stuff you think they should have or do, i.e. things they didn’t ask for, don’t understand or accept, can’t use and don’t value?

Don’t brush this off. This is a critical question if you want to get buy-in from the people you serve. It’s easy to assume that co-workers / employees don’t know what’s required in order to keep them safe. How do you know what it is that they do or don’t know if you haven’t asked them?

Listen and respect the input from those who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’. Accept their recommendations and legalise their actions = make them safe. This is where your H&S Reps play a critical role, provided they have been properly educated and empowered.

[1]   Disruptive Safety™ promotes a futuristic approach to safety which shifts the safety paradigm from ‘Preventing wrong’ to ‘Ensuring right’. Read more


Nigel Risner, my international professional speaking colleague, who granted me permission to adapt the ‘RE’ concept for purposes of this safety tip.


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SM – Site Colonoscopy

♦♦♦    SAFETY MATTERS    ♦♦♦

Site Colonoscopy

When last did you conduct one?


Without exception, all companies have the capital E for environment in their SHE abbreviation for their safety efforts, but are they serious about the E? The E sounds good in the safety policy and looks smart on the wall, but when last did you conduct a plant colonoscopy? How frequently do you go to the backend of your process, there where the waste and effluent spew out? Normally only the janitors, cleaners and contract waste removal companies see that part of your operation. We are good at shifting the burden of looking after the environment onto someone else – let them deal with our ‘nasties’ and we merely pay the price.

Conducting a plant colonoscopy means starting at the back and looking at what and how much waste and effluent, including gaseous effluent, we generate and, particularly, at how safe and clean these handling facilities are. Often they are a real mess, because these facilities are seen as a necessary evil that we do not want to waste our money on. A colonoscopy also means flushing out the whole system by taking a good look at drains, bunds, drip trays, drain valves and pumps, filters, bins and silos. Are these fit for purpose in effectively catching or separating the waste and effluent? Look for spillages and leakages and track where these are routed to.

Do you accept waste and effluent as part of the process? How much effort is put into reducing off-cuts, run-offs and spillages, or at least collecting and reusing them in the process? We allow people to use the hose pipe to wash stuff down the drains. Do you recycle materials outside your own process? Collecting and recycling paper, plastics, glass, metal and oil is a simple matter of attitude and some bins and containers, often provided by the recycling companies.

We are all responsible for protecting the environment, not only at work, but at home as well. If you mess, you clean up. We should all re-duce, re-use, re-cycle and prevent waste and effluent in the first place.


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SCnSP – The Weak Signal

Nov 2017

The Weak Signal



We’re surrounded by signals all the time, from radio, TV, mobiles and, nowadays, wi-fi. It’s getting to the point where there’s so much noise that we only hear the louder, specifically-targeted messages. The weaker signals just get lost, unless we move to a better spot so as to hear more clearly.

This analogy applies to many relationships, whether it is in the family through parenting, or in organisations through leadership, or in politics (Gupta). When there is power, or a hierarchy, at play, the situation often becomes one-sided. The one who is in power talks and expects the others to listen – a case of “Do as I tell you.”

In an organisation, the leadership has the strongest signal. They have direct access to wi-fi and call centres, while the people who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’ can only use the much weaker signals. The wi-fi is made up of policies, procedures, papers and all sorts of instructions. It’s all top down, one-way communication and often complicated by conflicting and inconsistent signals such as “Safety First and Zero Harm, but meet the Production, Costs, Quality and other Targets first”.

The Suggestion box, BBS observations, H&S Rep reports and other tools and techniques used to connect with the people who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’, are the equivalent of the call centre. You hear clearly: “Your call is important to us, and will be attended to shortly … For quality purposes the call will be recorded … We are currently experiencing high call volumes … Please hold … ”. In the end, the call is logged but seldom leads to ACTION.

The weak signals are always there, if we care to listen carefully. Everytime there’s an enquiry or investigation into a serious incident or injury, we hear these weak signals clearly. They often start with “We” followed by “told; observed; reported; requested; asked; complained; warned you” and similar action words. Often the organisation’s culture weakens the signals further by virtue of the fear of speaking up or taking a stand, all kinds of threats, blaming and shaming, a lack of action and priority or being taken seriously.
These weak signals require little effort to pick up on at the time but, if lost in the noise, can lead to serious consequences.

Picture: Disruptive safety call to action icon

Take a careful look at the different signals inside the organisation. The Critical Success Factors for a better reception are:

  • Create a climate which rewards weak signals, even if they turn out to be false signals.
  • Make it personal with a name / photo.
  • Provide prompt, direct feedback.
  • Show that the weak signals are being taken seriously and are making a difference.
  • Give the people who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’ a REAL VOICE – a voice which will be heard and taken seriously – a direct line to the CEO’s or MD’s. The climate will change dramatically. All employees, without exception, own a mobile device, often even a smart phone and are using free apps like WhatsApp. So what’s stopping YOU?


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The Safety Rep’s Survival Guide  –  what it is and why you need it

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GM – Walking the Circle of Safety

May 2012

Walking the Circle of Safety

Picture depicting walking vehicular circle of safety


What is the Vehicular Circle of Safety?

Pretty much what it sounds like … circling your vehicle as a safety check before you drive off.

The ‘Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety’ website has a comprehensive checklist and a diagram of what to check for. Although it is directed at company vehicles, the Circle of Safety is definitely not limited to that – we all learnt about the circle check when we prepared for our driver licence tests. Ergo, this is something we should all be doing with our personal vehicles too!

Why do it?

Well, apart from the obvious, i.e. is the vehicle in a fit state to be on the road, doing this has the effect of increasing driver safety awareness. Some companies insist on the positioning of traffic cones around their vehicles so that drivers are ‘forced’ to ‘walk the circle’ as they remove the cones.

The example below is a VERY good reason for at least checking that there are no children or animals anywhere near your vehicle.

Source unknown, but thanks to Morkel for bringing it to my attention!

If you’re not already walking the Circle of Safety, why not start today? It’s the SMART thing to do.


Childsafewebsite for the campaign of the Child Accident Prevention Foundation of Southern Africa (CAPFSA) and Safe Kids Worldwide

Driveway Run-over Injury Prevention Videosmade available by the New Zealand chapter of Safekids

Prediction on child road fatalities in Africa by 2015


The Safety Guru  –  delivering your safety message powerfully, purposefully and permanently for real safety, health and wellness results

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SCnSP – Running Like Hell and Panting Like Crazy

Nov 2016

Running like hell, panting like crazy

What it takes to be a “top dog” …
… doing instead of talking

Picture: panting like crazy


Do you feel like you’re running like hell and panting like crazy … and getting nowhere? Then this one is for you, whether you are a CEO or a frontline manager. At each level, you are a leader in your own right. In fact, at home, in your family and in your community you are a leader, without appointment or position – merely by your actions.

There are thousands of books, written on leadership.
My take on leadership is simple and practical.

Leadership is what you believe, what you see, what you hear, what you read and learn, but, most of all, what you do:

  • the movement you create by the action you take (because words rarely change things);
  • the trust you create – envision, change, simplify, know and innovate;
  • the integrity you show – listen, respect, recognise, care and relate;
  • the way you deal with accountability – fix, coach, build, help, empower and expect results.

Leaders don’t wait for instructions – they provide direction.

If you are spending your time in meetings, instructing, prescribing, following up, chasing, checking, reviewing, supervising and, in general, trying to control what other people are or should be doing, then you are not leading, but managing [1]. You are most probably running like hell and panting like crazy.

Picture: Disruptive safety call to action icon

Do work that matters.
Care about how what you do impacts on others.
Protect and grow your people, balance priorities with resources, empower your people, make them think and then get out of their way.

Stand back, take a helicopter view, educate and empower and move your people from dependence to interdependence.
Why? There’ll be less running and panting and definitely more positive results.

[1]    You manage/handle horses, not people! Manage comes from manege ‹ Italian maneggiare to handle, train (horses), derivative of mano ‹ Latin manus hand. Present use, to be in charge of, run, be head of, head, direct, control, preside over, lead, govern, rule, command, superintend, supervise, oversee, administer, organise, conduct, handle, take forward, guide, be at the helm of.


Purpose” from the series “Safety on a Shoestring Budget

Safety as a Value – Leaders’ Roles and Responsibilities

Safety, for Safety’s Sake

Gupta Lessons

Action Speaks Louder Than Words

The Politics of Safety

Discipline and Passion


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SCnSP – It’s just a project

Jun 2016

This is a really simple tip. Get this right, and you could turn your job on its head!


It’s Just A Project

Picture of a vegetable patch


Did you know you’re a project manager?

Seriously. You are. Every time you shop, decide what to wear, put air in your bicycle or car tyres, or catch a train or bus, you’re completing a task in what could be the project plan for your Lunch Project, or Date Project, or Career Project.

You’re the Project Manager of your life. The project may be as simple as hanging a picture on a wall, or a little more involved, like creating a vegetable garden or painting your home. It could be a project that only takes an hour to complete, or years and years. It might be a project to make sure things keep running properly (maintenance project), or a project for something new or better (development project).

So you can see that “project” is just the name given to the process of getting something done.
A project has a purpose: something that must be achieved, created, completed.
Whether or not you’re aware of it, a project also has a plan: by when you want or need it done (deadline), the steps that must be taken (tasks to be completed), what the right order is for those steps, how much time you think will be needed for each step, what you will need (people, tools, materials, money), how much of each you will need and by when, and, of course, it must have a start time and/or date.

If your project has a non-negotiable completion time or date, or if you have a limited budget, you may need to rearrange some of the steps, or get someone to help you with some of the tasks, or find a smarter way to do something so that you can finish it on time and within the budget you have available. Depending on the project, you may want to work out in advance what you will do if things don’t go according to plan. Sometimes, you might find you need to change your plan when you’ve already started on the project because one or more of the steps (tasks) has taken longer than it should have and you need to find a way to get some of the other steps done more quickly, or because a resource you need is not available at the time you need it, or something is costing you more than you expected it to. That, in essence, is project management.

Without even thinking about it, you already run at least some aspects of your personal life as projects. Maybe, without realising it, you do the same with your job.

Your “life” projects may be exciting (getting that new car) or necessary (eating a meal) or both. Whether or not they achieve their purpose (objectives) depends on the importance you attach to them (priority) and your self-discipline. The same goes for your job.


See your job / role / function in your place of work as a series of pro-active projects which you choose (important). Such projects are exciting, about making change happen, about making improvements and exploring new options. They are about ‘now’ so give them deadlines. Make sure that the routine aspects of your job (emails, phone calls, meeting, reports, etc.) don’t suck up all your time so that you are too busy to complete the pro-active projects!


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SCnSP – What’s your real job?

May 2016

What’s Your Real Job?

(as a Safety Professional)

graphic with text I'm just asking


Frequently, when I contact safety professionals, I am told: “We are busy with audits” or “I still have to do the monthly report” or “I am in a safety meeting” or “We are preparing for the EXCO”.
So, my challenge to you, as a safety professional, is:
Describe your real job in a paragraph or two, as if you were a safety consultant and had to sell your services to interested parties.
Now ask yourself: Would you pay a safety consultant for only doing audits, collecting figures, sitting in meetings, producing reports and being a safety accountant?

I know. You have to satisfy the needs of senior management, because they control the resources – pay your salary and approve your budget. Yes, there are legal stipulations which you have to comply with, in terms of reporting and ensuring the safety of employees. Yes, there’s work to be done to get and maintain your accreditation. And yes, you have a job description, with key performance areas in auditing and reporting.

Nonetheless, ask yourself: Who are your real clients? Does all the reporting, auditing and graphs you spend so much time on improve the safety culture? How much of what you do positively affects the employees – the people who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’ – directly? How much of what you do are ‘self-generated’ activities or distractions which you do because it seems the right thing to do?

Consider. If you are cook, what’s important is the meal you serve. If you are surgeon, what matters is your performance in the operating theatre. If you are speaker, your talk on the stage is what it’s all about.
Most professionals have to spend up to 90% of their time in preparing, ensuring quality, staying up-to-date and many other things. However, none of this matters if the meal is poor, the operation is botched up, or the talk makes no impact because we spent too much time on distractions, instead of the real purpose of our job.

Don’t allow yourself to get confused about which part of your job is really important, really worth your time, the actual point of the exercise, of providing safety support – the part which makes a real difference!


Get clarity about what your real job is, then tackle it and deliver!

Look into the ‘integrity mirror’ and list your main tasks. Categorise them into Must Do (value-adding – someone is willing to pay for this), Nice To Have (not critical for safety) and Who Really Wants This (distraction / non-value adding).
If need be, go and rewrite your job description! You are the ‘safety cook’!

Ask the employees (not your managers):

  • How difficult are we making it for you to spend money on safety improvements?
  • How well are we listening, and reacting, to safety concerns or suggestions?
  • How easy is it for you to contact senior managers?
  • Do we give you permission to take action to make it safe?
  • How safety empowered are you and how do we know this?
  • What are we doing to improve and reinvent safety?
  • How good are our safety professionals?
  • What are we doing to support our SHE reps?
  • How much time are we spending on safety and how is that time spent?
  • How much of our safety efforts are re-active as opposed to pro-active?


I’ve written about this issue a number of times, addressing it from different angles:

Mirror on the wall

Stretched thin

The illusion / paradox of control

I don’t have time

Safety first – really?

The best audits

What is your worth?

Under the knife


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SCnSP – Your Call Is Important To Me

Mar 2016

Phone etiquette is key to customer relations and, with the proliferation of ACD & IVR switchboards and mobile phones, it has evolved.  Has your corporate culture kept pace?



(Mobile) Connectivity

graphic depicting caller on the phone


The number you have called is not available. Please try again later.

I can’t take your call right now, I’m in a meeting.

I’m not available at the moment, but please leave your name and number, and I will call you back, as soon as possible!

My personal favourite: “Your call is important to us. Please hold for the next available consultant“, followed by Beethoven’s 9th Symphony alternating with advertising / information messages … over and over and over again.

And let’s not forget this important message: “For Quality and Training purposes your call may be recorded“. For heavens’ sake … If quality was important to them they would answer my darned call and not put me in a queue for ages! [1]

I’ve heard these and similar voice messages a hundred times, or more, and every time I asked myself: Really? Is the client really important to you? Are you really not available, or just in another meeting? Or is it just a question of you being unable to prioritise the urgent and important stuff?

Recently, for one of my projects, I tried to contact about 30 people. I say ‘tried’ because 80% of them couldn’t be reached on their mobile number and either don’t listen to their voicemail or don’t return calls. Why are we sitting with this endemic corporate sickness?

At one stage, I used to say to myself (as I’m sure many still do): “I am busy, if YOUR call is important to YOU, then you can call ME back!” That changed radically when I became self-employed. Every missed call is now, for me, a missed opportunity. Even when I am in a meeting, I will take a call from my wife, Heidi.

One of the reasons for carrying a mobile phone is instant connectivity. Even if circumstances dictate that you can’t immediately take a call (driving is a good example), you should still acknowledge the call by phoning the person back later.


  1. Listen to your own message. What is it telling others about you, or your company? Turn the tables and try to see it from the caller’s perspective.
  2. Ask yourself: If I were self-employed, how would I deal with my phone calls? “Call back later” may be interpreted to mean that you are not interested, potentially losing you a business opportunity.
  3. Don’t use an auto responder unless you absolutely have to. Acknowledge the call. This doesn’t mean you have to take the call and enter into a long conversation. It means taking the initiative by offering to phone back or asking the caller to phone you at a certain time.
  4. Don’t use a term like ‘as soon as possible’. Make it a habit to follow up on missed calls and call-backs daily.
  5. Look at the 80/20 rule. 80% of people who call you on a regular basis probably need an urgent decision or want to share information with you. Ask yourself why? Has it got something to do with the way you manage and empower people? It’s your call!

[1]    Rod Jones, of Contact Centre Consulting CC


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♥ Valentine’s Day ♥
No Condom No Cookie™ Goodie Box


Be a Smart Cookie this Valentine’s Day.

picture showing Jurgen's AIDS Awareness Cookie

Make a difference in the lives of your employees and their communities.

Introduce a new idea that is
fantastic VALUE and
calls for ACTION!

larger picture showing contents of No Condom No Cookie AIDS Awareness Kit

No Condom No Cookie™ is a synergistic package concept. It is a challenge-to-action in a goodie box.

This Valentine’s Day Special Edition contains an A3 Awareness Poster, 60 educational AIDS info-lets and 60 gift bags, each of which includes:

AIDS ribbon bullet pointa gift tag with a Valentine’s Day message

AIDS ribbon bullet pointan AIDS Awareness Cookie with educational AIDS message insert

AIDS ribbon bullet pointa red condom in a No Condom No Cookie™ pocket

AIDS ribbon bullet pointa chocolate heart

AIDS ribbon bullet pointa No Condom No Cookie™ sticker

♥     ♥     ♥

These goodies are designed to work together:

The message inside the cookie, used in conjunction with the info-let, is educational.   The coloured condom & pocket with No Condom No Cookie™ logo encourage safe behaviour. In combination with the chocolate and the sticker, these serve to raise awareness in a novel, fun and unforgettable manner.

The Goodie Boxes are available at quantity discount prices too. So …

and do your bit by sponsoring No Condom No Cookie™ Goodie Boxes for your employees, local high schools, clinics and similar places in your communities this Valentine’s Day.

picture showing No Condom No Cookie logo

ps. The complete No Condom No Cookie™ Goodie Box is also available for conventional awareness and training purposes.

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