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SCnSP – Lessons from Cats


In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies and the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance. The “Trust Factor” is one of those fundamental things.

Lessons from Cats

(Near Hit and Incident reporting)

graphic depicting cat - trust - expose soft belly

My wife and I love animals. We have two large dogs and five cats. It is my act of love to brush the cats every Saturday. Lula, the oldest one, is full of trust and flops onto her back, exposing her soft underbelly without any problem. Pippa, on the other hand, would never do this voluntarily and will only expose her underbelly in an all-claws-out fight!

So why do these cats behave so differently? The answer lies in one word – trust.

Lula was born on our bed, showered with care and love for the entire 16 years of her life. She has no hesitation to present herself in the most vulnerable position. Pippa, on the other hand, is one of our rescue children and grew up somewhere in the gutters of Benoni. She had to fend for herself, got ‘raped’ at six months of age and was left with a litter of kittens. Who knows what else has happened to her? Her deep-rooted mistrust throws her into sheer distress when I turn her onto her back to brush her belly.

The link to safety and, indeed, leadership.

Do your people trust you enough to expose their soft underbelly to you?

By that I mean:

  • Do they trust you enough so as to disclose all the near hits, incidents, cuts and bruises, breach of rules and procedures and mistakes, not only in terms of safety, but also in quality, costs, human relations, and …
  • You expect them to report these occurrences, but what have you done to earn their trust? Is your company culture a “Lula” experience with reliable care and love? Or is it a “Pippa” experience of wariness, where people get penalised for mistakes, feel they have to watch their backs and have learned to trust no one?


  • Don’t brush this off as another sermon about the soft side of business. This is a fundamental issue. If you don’t really listen, respect, recognise, care and relate to your people, with integrity, you cannot expect them to expose their underbelly to you in full trust.
  • Analyse your emotional balance sheet – penalty vs praise. We are experts at holding up the red card and hardly ever show a green card – the pat on the back, a genuine thank you for doing the everyday things, for sticking to the rules, for ideas, for their commitment, for finishing the project, for …
  • Allow your subordinates to hold up the mirror to their / your leaders, without fear or favour.
    “The mirror we hold up to the person next to us is one of the most important pictures he / she will ever see.” — Seth Godin
    I am not a big fan of surveys, but an anonymous, simple survey might help you?


“Trust and Respect” – from the book Life EduAction by Jürgen Tietz

“Care and Growth” approach by Etsko Schuitema


picture of this tool - isiZulu version

Ask me about using my ISIBOPHO Whistle and Red-Green Cards COOL TOOL™, customised to your company’s safety keypoints.


Your comments and feedback are always welcome!

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GM – Oscar’s Defence

♦♦♦    Oscar’s Defence    ♦♦♦

for Safety Incidents / Accidents


Leaving the question of the extent of Oscar’s guilt and the consequent sentencing aside – that’s Judge Masipa’s job – one cannot ignore that this case is a classic example of not taking responsibility and of making excuses and assumptions.

This “disease” is too often mirrored in people’s behaviour when it comes to safety. We find people giving excuses instead of acknowledging their role in mishaps, which would help us to find the root cause of incidents or near hits (not misses!).

Excuses often given include:

  • I did not know / think / ask / hear / see . . .
  • I assumed . . .
  • I didn’t do it on purpose.
  • I can’t remember
  • Before I could think, I had . . .
graphic with words I'm Responsible

Accidents don’t just “happen”. They are the direct result of someone choosing to do the wrong thing or to not do the right thing. This includes thinking of the consequences of one’s actions before taking action!

Why do people make excuses rather than owning up? In some companies, it is because there is a culture of intimidation and / or people fear being penalised.

Incident reporting is mandated, but companies also want to know about near hits – this information is critical as an aid to finding and fixing root causes permanently, so that similar incidents don’t happen again.

To encourage disclosure and ownership, one needs to promote a safety culture of focussing on the incident and not making somebody pay for what happened. Of course, there will always be exceptions to this principle, as in a situation of deliberate sabotage, pure negligence, tampering with safety devices and equipment or blatant contravention of safety procedures.


  1. Review your policies and procedures, so that there will be no penalty when reporting or owning up to a genuine mistake.
  2. Contact me for a Simply Smart Safety™ Power Survey to help you understand what the current safety culture looks like in your company.


Your feedback and comments are always welcome! Drop me a line!

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SCnSP – Have You Been Tagged – State of Pedestrian Safety


In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies. One of the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance is to review the state of pedestrian safety inside our company premises as well as surrounding communities and take action to reduce pedestrian fatalities.

picture of the Decade of Action for Road Safety tag



State of Pedestrian Safety

picture of the Decade of Action for Road Safety tag


24 June 2014
“A cyclist is fighting for his life after he was hit by a car on the R102 …”

22 June 2014
“A pedestrian is in a critical condition after he was knocked down on Hendrik Potgieter Rd …”

21 June 2014
“Man in a critical condition after he was knocked over by a construction vehicle.”

Enough? No?

31 May 2014
“A man was critically injured after he was hit by a car along Ballito Drive.”

27 May 2014
“54-year-old woman tragically lost her life after she was knocked over by a motor vehicle.”

26 Apr 2014
“A 29-year-old male pedestrian was killed at the M1 and M2 interchange in Booysens …”

Still not enough? Well, it is for me!

So, are you willing to be tagged?

The real tag I’m referring to will cost you effort, time and possibly even money … but it will be worth it, if you believe that life is priceless.

Watch this video, then read on.

snapshot of the video entitled The Long Short Walk

We’re almost halfway through the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety, which was officially launched 11 May 2011 via a resolution supported by 100 countries. This resolution was subsequently adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 April this year.

The official aim of the Decade of Action is to stabilise and then reduce global road traffic fatalities by 2020. Making it real, the aim is to save 5 million lives.

Globally, road traffic incidents rank 8th as a cause of death.

But, they are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 29.

Horrific stats.  That’s our younger generation.

Delving deeper, globally, pedestrian deaths amount to 22% of all road deaths every year – that’s over 270,000 people. Pedestrian fatalities in the African Region are sitting at 38%.

In South Africa, between 35-37% of all road fatalities are pedestrian fatalities.

If no effective action has been taken since 2011, then the forecast figures indicate that this year the figure of 270,000 will have increased to 330,000 by now.

South Africa launched the Arrive Alive Road Safety Campaign in 1997.
The RTMC is running a 365 Days Road Safety Campaign and published their revised Strategic Plan for the next 5 years in March.

Are these initiatives working?

At the 82nd UN Assembly (2013), Jeremiah Mamabolo said that the Arrive Alive Road Safety Campaign “had resulted in a drastic reduction in the number of deaths from accidents and sharpened the response of law enforcement agencies and health services.”

You can read all about the RTMC’s progress related to the “5 Pillars for the Decade of Action for Road Safety” in their latest annual report, and decide for yourself.

Like it or not, the fact remains that it is up to each and every individual to take responsibility for road safety.
Why not start with pedestrian safety?

♦ As individuals, we can ensure that we have not “gardened” up the paving areas outside our homes to the point where pedestrians are forced to walk in the street.

♦ As responsible citizens, we can ensure our communal areas and company premises are safe for pedestrians.


  • Do a survey of pedestrian safety inside your company premises, including inside buildings. Are there enough walkways, clearly demarcated / barricaded off, for people to walk safely?
  • Look for places where people are NOT using the walk ways and establish why short cuts are being taken. Ask people, don’t make assumptions. Is it a matter of education / policing / discipline?
  • Go to your surrounding communities and look for opportunities to help with pedestrian safety, especially around schools. Can your company sponsor Zebra crossings, side walks, or anything else which can show your community that you do care.
  • Draw up a home safety flyer / cartoon brochure for your employees to take home and to distribute at schools to highlight the risks and safe behaviour. Or get posters that Arrive Alive and the RTMC have designed.
  • Share “The Long Short Walk” video with others and “tag” your people.


Global Plan for Decade of Action for Road Safety & its 5 Pillars:
   Road Safety Fund material
   WHO material

Decade of Action for Road Safety tags

Pedestrian Safety WHO Manual (publ 2013)

National plan of action for South Africa:
   2011 strategy document
   2014 revised strategy plan

Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013

Reports for South Africa:
   Stats for South Africa that were used for Global Status Report
   Stats from Arrive Alive South Africa
   RTMC Annual Report 2012-2013

News excerpts

Graphics courtesy of  Decade for Action tags  &  Make Roads Safe


16 November 2014 (annually, 3rd Sunday of November):  World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims

4-10 May 2015:  Third UN Global Road Safety Week

2015 (details TBA):  Second Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety (to be held in Brazil)


Campaign brochure:  Safe Roads for All

Pedestrian Safety Advice:  from Arrive Alive South Africa online

Zenani Mandela Campaign


Your feedback and comments are always welcome! Drop me a line!

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SCnSP – What’s Your Worth (

Jun 2013

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies. One of the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance is the importance of recognition, constructive criticism, tracking progress and acting on feedback.


What’s Your Worth?

My Brag Book

Picture: Testimonials and Client Feedback


As a safety professional or department, you are providing a service to all the employees of your company. It is a challenge to judge how you are doing as a service provider. What is the perceived value you bring to the business? You should see yourself as an independent consultant. What would the people you serve do if they had a choice to use whomever they prefer as a safety provider? Would they rather hire someone else?

The best way to get feedback is to simply ASK for it. ASK the people you serve and do not assume. ASK: “What value did my talk, service, input, advice, etc. add for you?” I have yet to find someone who refused to oblige, when asked.

Here are a few tips on how to ASK:

  • Keep it simple. One question and not a list of 10.
  • If the reply is negative, then use the feedback as a foundation for ‘unpacking’ – What? Why? and How?
  • Record it as a short interview on video or audio, or request an email.
  • Feedback or survey forms are a waste of time, most of the time. They are prone to the ‘Tick-Tick’ syndrome. Often just one negative comment sticks in your mind and gives you the feeling of ‘failure’.
  • Do not take it personally if the feedback / criticism is negative.
  • Always thank the people giving you the feedback for having made the time and effort to point out alternative options.
  • Ask for feedback right after the event / intervention / service / project.

One of the core motivators for most people is RECOGNITION. Keep a BragBook or file of your achievements. Self-appraisal helps you and your team to re-energise and stay on track. As a keynote speaker at safety events, I get my feedback from:

  • The audience reaction during my talk.
  • People who speak to me after the event and people quoting phrases I used in my talk – like ‘YEBO BABA!‘.
  • People buying my book, because they want a ‘piece of me’ to take home / to sustain the message I gave them.

In addition, I ASK for written feedback or get a video recording of feedback from the event organiser or MC, which gives me a good measure of how well I met their expectations.

See my online BragBook for some of my highly-valued client feedback.


Keep a BragBook or Feedback File. Keep it up to date. Review it every so often – it’s a great way for you and your team to feel good and stay motivated. It has the added benefit of helping you to get perspective on your achievements and the progress you are making.

It is too easy in our ‘crazy busy’ life to feel lost and demotivated. List those things which you and your team have completed and which make you proud. Collect photos, videos and written testimonials as well as scanned images of documents.

In my personal BragBook, apart from photos and videos, I have a copy of my property’s title deed, cuttings from newsletter or newspaper articles, certificates of achievement, performance graphs, posters & logos, letters of appointment, articles I have written and testimonials from people I have coached, or who have read my book.


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SCnSP – Action Speaks Louder Than Words

Apr 2013

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety Is An Issue For Most Companies. One of the Things We Must Address If We Want To Improve Our Safety Performance is the role of leadership.


Action Speaks Louder Than Words

Picture: Toolbox


I always say to people:

There is nothing which moves people more than ACTION
and nothing which is more powerful
than prompt, pro-active ACTION.

I then follow this up with:

Talking about the smart tools you have in your toolbox
is not the same as getting the job done.

We are masters at being re-active, especially when we have problems or if the old system / plan is not delivering results. We are good at:

  • Setting up too many initiatives and thrusts and over complicating things.
  • Talking and making new plans or setting up new systems.
  • Writing new policies and procedures.
  • Putting things on papers or posters (just a piece of paper).

Many years back, I had a mentor Jan Lys, who was a real “Staatmaker” (a person you can depend on). He taught me the following piece of wisdom:

Be the master of your deeds,
not the slave of your words.

Many of us are poor at:

  • Taking ACTION, pro-active ACTION – doing and implementing and measuring progress / results.
  • Breaking plans down into small doable stepping stones with milestones.
  • Communicating and engaging people and giving feedback.
  • Completing / finishing – “It’s done when you’re finished; it’s complete when it doesn’t come back to bite you for 5 years” Thomas Leonard
  • Perseverance, sticking to the basics and improving on the results.
  • Making our change efforts lead to real, sustainable transformation.


In line with what I am preaching, here is something for you to do, but only if you are serious about taking ACTION.

Design a survey, best in the form of a ballot paper, to ask all your people what they think about the ACTION you are taking in safety.

It is most important that you ask those people who ‘push the buttons and use the tools’, as they see the ACTION taken where it counts, namely where the rubber hits the road. Ask them to be brutally honest with you. Keep it simple and only identify whether the feedback is from a ‘player’ or a ‘coach’ and from which area or function.

When you are done, follow the 3 F approach – Feedback, Fast, and Fair. Tell your people what the results of the ballot are and, most importantly, what you are going to do about it = ACTION you are going to take!


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SCnSP Safety as a Value

Apr 2012

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety is an Issue for Most Companies, or, putting it differently, Things we Must Address if we Want to Improve our Safety Performance. This month, I address one aspect of culture, namely our individual values and how they affect our behaviour and impact on safety culture.


Safety As A Value

by Jürgen Tietz and Tim Fox


One of the main problems with safety is that most people still suffer from the “Speedkop” (Traffic cop) syndrome – complying out of fear of being caught and fined. You need to move people from GOTO to WANTO do the safe thing. People need to have safety as a value, i.e. where safety is no longer in the head, but in the heart. If safety is in people’s heart, you can throw away the ‘rule book’, do away with the ‘supervisor’ and stop policing. People need to understand and accept that it’s not that it’s hard to do the right (safe) thing, it’s that it’s hard to know what the right thing is. Once they know what is right, when they know, they’ll find it’s hard not to do it.

Picture: Signs that show safety is a value

Safety is a value when:

  1. You take charge of your own safety and stop making excuses (no time or money). This is especially true for safety ‘at home’ and on the road – outside your work area!
  2. You think pro-actively what the consequences will be (anticipate). You stop and think of how to improve the safety of what you are doing.
  3. You catch yourself doing the right or doing the wrong thing, even when no one is looking.
  4. You are courageous enough to STOP OTHERS from doing the wrong / unsafe thing.
  5. You adopt a zero repeat mindset and do not accept that accidents just “happen”. Accidents are caused.
  6. You become a true safety champion, visible, involved and pro-active. Be a role model, make time and money available.
  7. You stop being in such a hurry, trying to do 10 things simultaneously.
  8. You feel guilty or ‘naked‘ when you take a short cut / chances, break the rules or do not take the necessary safety precautions.
  9. You stop ‘driving’ on auto-pilot and are alert and focused on the task at hand.
  10. You stop merely trying to avoid danger, but pro-actively work towards designing safety into your task or equipment.


Turn this into a powerful tool by formulating open-ended questions to survey the true safety value of your company. You have to ask the right questions:

  1. How do you take charge of your own safety ‘at home’?
  2. What do you do before you start a task?
  3. What do you do when no one is looking?
  4. What do you do when you see someone doing an unsafe thing?
  5. What is your safety mindset?
  6. How do you role-model safety?
  7. How do you make time for safety?
  8. How do you feel when you take a short cut or chances?
  9. How alert and focused are you when doing tasks?
  10. What are you doing to avoid danger?

The responses to these questions will give you a good idea of how deeply safety is rooted in your company’s ‘heart’.


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