The Good

Safety Riddle: Who am I?

You may know me.
I’m your constant companion.
I’m your greatest helper – I’m your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure –
I am at your command.

Half the tasks you do might as well be turned over to me –
I’m able to do them quickly and I’m able to do them the same every time, if that’s what you want.

I’m easily managed; all you’ve got to do is be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want it done and, after a few lessons, I’ll do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great men and women and, of course, servant to the failures as well.
I’ve made all the great people who have ever been great –
And, I’ve made all the failures too.

But I work with all the precision of a marvelous computer, with the intelligence of a human being.
You may run me for profit or you may run me to ruin;
It makes no difference to me.

Take me, be firm with me and I’ll put the world at your feet – Be easy with me and I will destroy you!

Who am I?

(scroll down for the answer)

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I am HABIT

We do most things without thinking consciously about what we are doing! Let’s consider that for a moment. We would not be able to function without these habits. From walking, moving, driving a vehicle, to most of our lifestyle routines like sleeping, hygiene, eating and drinking, all of which we do automatically. The same is true in our work. From writing, spelling, typing, operating plant and equipment to following rules and procedures, or breaking rules and taking shortcuts.

Be careful. The best safety device is a careful worker. Get the safety habit.

In fact, SAFETY HABITS are fundamental to achieving our goal of ZERO HARM or ZERO INCIDENTS. People need to abide by the rules and procedures, without having a mental debate every time as to whether or not these are valid. Put on the seat belt, lock out the machines, test the lockout, put on the harness and hook up at heights, use the PPE and and and … a nearly endless list of life-saving rules. These SAFETY HABITS have to be taught and learned, like driving a car. It takes hours and hours of practice for us to reach the level where we can do it out of habit. Once we have acquired these SAFETY HABITS, we have to guard against falling into the trap of ignoring the basics and going for shortcuts – all in the name of trying to do it smarter.

The issue of habits is so important, that I have dedicated the very first chapter of my book to it!

Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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Time for Gratitude

thank you,ke a leboga,ke a leboha,ngiyabonga,ndo livhuwa,ro livhuwa,siyabonga,enkosi,dankie,ngiyathokoza,inkomu

 

As leaders and safety professionals we forget to show GRATITUDE. We are looking in the rearview mirror, focusing on what went wrong, why we missed our targets and, often, who to blame.

At the end of the year, it is time for us to be grateful for what we have and to count our blessings. Think about the number of activities and tasks that are being completed by all your people, without any incident or mishap. They run into the millions. Let me put this into perspective.

The vast majority of these activities are done out of habit (routine), without conscious thought. That is where your training and systems are paying off.

Consider a simple task, like driving a vehicle. I get into the seat (hopefully after walking around the vehicle and doing my pre-start check), fasten my seat belt, check the mirrors, start the engine, switch on the lights, engage the reverse gear, look left and right, release the handbrake, check the mirrors again, apply gas, steer the vehicle to the right and left and turn, apply the brakes and then take a breather — all this just to get out of my driveway at home!

To complete the task of getting to work safely, I will have to perform hundreds of activities such as this and more (using indicators, changing lanes, accelerating, braking, keeping an eye on the traffic, stopping, etc.). Each one of these I accomplish successfully, without incident and without conscious thought, but each one has the potential of leading to an occurrence which could result in damage, an injury, a fatality and, most definitely, lost time.

Now, multiply these hundreds of activities by the tenfold of tasks or jobs that each of your employees completes every day, by the number of employees, contractors and visitors on your site every day, and finally, by the number of working days this year, and you will have to add a large number of zeros to your figure of gratitude.

This also puts into perspective why ZERO HARM is such a tough goal to achieve.

Please count your blessings and let your people know how indebted you are to them for having done so well, as you cannot even express this ratio:

number of incidents and near hits
number of activities completed

Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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Show me the good stuff

I use my mirror technique to customise my presentations for each client.
For this technique to work, I need photos of the GOOD, bad and ugly stuff.

Hunt down the GOOD stuff and find the safety champion and give him/her the recognition.

This enables me to ask the audience:

“What do YOU see?
What is wrong?
What is GOOD?
Who is responsible?
Is it the player or is it the coach?”

This is a most powerful technique to engage the audience and to get them to take ownership for what they see. Play the video on my S.H.E. ATM screen to see what I mean.

Sometimes, however, for security reasons, clients do not allow me to use my own camera. In these cases they offer to let me have their photos. I invariably find that all they can give me is photos of the bad and ugly things. Photos of poor housekeeping and maintenance, waste and spillage are typical examples, because those are the obvious ones. Also, the photos are normally taken of the plant, equipment, stores, workshops and similar areas. It is seldom that I am given photos of personal work spaces like office desks, cupboards, toolboxes, rest areas, chairs, etc. We somehow focus on the negative, on the breaking of the rules and poor behaviour. People find it tough to share with me photos of GOOD areas which are clean, neat and tidy and where the rules are being followed.

I also do not get photos of improvements, where a safety problem has been fixed. Taking before and after photos is something safety professionals do not do.

When I take my own photos, I hunt down the GOOD stuff and find the safety champion so I can include him / her in my photo. Recognising people in this way is a most powerful tool for motivation.

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,
Jürgen

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Industrial Theatre? No! But it is HYPNOTIC!

 

It takes guts to volunteer for the Educational Safety Hypno Coaching session. 

In this case, for 20 brave people, it meant being on stage in front of 300 excited colleagues, who couldn’t quite believe that these people were willing to do this. 

Alain, the Industrial Hypno Coach, and myself, in an industry first, stage different safety scenes and get the hypnotised ‘subjects’ to act these out. It is an eye-opener – a window into the safety soul of a company and its people. In contrast to industrial theatre, safety behaviour and perceptions are played out by the very people the audience know and work with. 

That’s where the power lies, in this unique approach. Apart from the high degree of entertainment value, the audience leaves the safety session abuzz with excitement, with memories which get them thinking and talking and looking at how they would react in those situations, thereby sustaining the safety message. What’s more, by questioning themselves and evaluating what their own behaviour might have been if they were the ones in a hypnotised state on stage, people introduce and/or reinforce the ‘right’ behaviours in their minds. To add a further level to the long-term impact of the session, the show can be video-taped and the material used for in-house safety discussions and training. 

Would you be brave enough? 

How well-trained and safety-conscious is your sub-conscious mind? 

 

To see the Educational Safety Hypno Coaching in action, watch the showreel at my video gallery

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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A New Safety Number

 

I have a new number: 6800

That is the number of people who were packed into the soccer field at Northam Platinum Mine for the safety day. Danny Gonzalves, the GM, called for a work stoppage so all employees could hear the “SAFETY FIRST at Northam” message. 

I have never felt so vulnerable. Not only was the venue and setup everything that, as a speaker, I do not like – out in the open in the heat of the sun, no projector and screen, a poor sound system and only a hand-held mike – but the audience was restless, having just listened to two union reps stoking the fire with political rhetoric and blaming. You see, Alfred Nkosivumile Hanisi had died in a fall-of-ground incident two weeks before.

However, it went very well. Each employee received one of my customised and Northam-branded key rings, with the message “Look out for each other“. The people remembered me and chanted my signature call YEBO BABA and CAPICHE. We sang my safety song “I have a dreamof ZERO HARM

It was an unforgettable experience … real gooseflesh stuff! I went home enriched and uplifted by the event, confident that my talk has made a lasting impact. 

 

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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Walking the 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 it.

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!

Some material worth looking at:

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

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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Where do you draw the line and what is PEOPOLOGY?

Still on the path to Safety As A Value

In the safety game, what is the role of the coach and what is the role of the player and where do the roles overlap?

All is revealed in my latest group mail on Safety Culture and Safety Performance. And … drumroll … BONUS … for the first time ever, I make my complete article on SAFETY CULTURE, which includes my PEOPLE Model, available to you, the reader, for FREE. 🙂 🙂 🙂

Oh. And if you want to know what peopology is, I give you an overview in the full article.

ps. There is a book on the subject, with lots of valuable tools and techniques, wrapped in sundry (often humorous) anecdotes. You can get the details here.

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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“My Brothers’ Keeper”

Picture this.
A convoy of 47, lined up and ready to go.
Or better, hear the beat of the engines, as 47 Harley Davidson motor bikes rrrrroar down the open road.

This was the first pack ride for Heidi, my wife, and I.

What an awesome experience, riding with mature and responsible bikers. I felt comfortable and secure driving in the formation of a pack. There is safety in numbers. When the front riders see a danger on the road, like potholes, they alert all the other riders, by means of hand signals, to ‘watch out’, ‘slow down’, or some other precaution. This is truly ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ in action.

The ride kicked off with the road captain briefing everyone about the road conditions and some of the dangers to watch out for. As a newcomer to pack riding, I got a safety talk from Piet, who, by the way, is a Jumbo Jet pilot for SAA!

It was an absolute pleasure sharing a ride with like-minded, safety-conscious bikers. I love the self-discipline, attitude towards safe riding and the concern they show for each other, as well as the fellowship of the Harley riders.

I wish I could transfer this to some of my clients.

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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Safety in Action

I’ve said it before, and I’m going to keep saying it: I love it when I see safety in ACTION. To me the key to ACTION is *doing*, not talking-about-doing. Too many companies (i.e. people, because companies are made up of people doing things) take ages to make decisions and get into gear.

I recently had an experience with ESKOM Gauteng Operating Unit which set a new record for me. (Northam is now a close second). I got a call at 10h00 one morning to do a safety talk to new employees the next day. So, within 24 hours, I prepared and customised my talk for this particular audience and was on stage knocking-the-socks-off the new ESKOMITES.

I could not have done this without the most efficient and prompt help of some people from the Gauteng Operating unit. Just goes to show again, if you are SERIOUS about Safety, you do take ACTION !!!

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

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Lala Kamnandi (Good Night)

We say “Lala Kamnandi” to each other.

Why do we have this habit in most cultures? It’s because sleep is important – to rejuvenate our spirits and recharge our batteries. Without proper sleep, we end up fatigued, frustrated and exhausted. 

This is a real risk in safety

When driving a vehicle or operating a critical machine, we have to be fully awake and alert all the time. Taking our eyes off the road (or ball) for even a few seconds can spell disaster. 

Apart from the safety issues, sleep also has a direct influence on our health. So often when people are asked “How are you?”, the reply is “Tired”, or they complain about back pain. 

Most of us spend 25%-35% of each day sleeping. So does it not stand to reason that we should take care of how and where we sleep? “How you make your bed, that’s how you will lie” is an old saying which holds very true. Just look at a dog settling down to sleep.     🙂

Many people will pay a fortune for their multi-media centers and lounge suites. … Hmmm. … Actually, for some, the investment in a TV couch makes good sense, since they spend many hours watching TV.     😉

Seriously though, we should rather spend more money on our beds and mattresses so that we can get a great night’s sleep, every night. 

One  area, where sleep deprivation and fatigue is a major cause of fatalities, is our roads. Many people get killed because of “losing control” = dozing off and closing their eyes for a few seconds. This was also mentioned by Minister Ndebele as one of the reasons why SA ranks third highest in road deaths globally. If you or your employees spend alot of time on the road, it might be worth investing in a fatigue warning system, like this nifty device – a Driver State Sensor (DSS) by BOOYCO

ACTION: Take a good look at your bed. If the mattress is older than 5 years, you should consider replacing it. The technology of beds and mattresses has evolved alot in the last few years, so make an investment in your sleep and health. Also make sure that you get enough rest each night, and “vuka vusa” (wake up, rise up) refreshed, every morning.

 Be safe – the SIMPLY SMART way,

Jürgen

ps. Ask me about my ROAD SAFETY COOL TOOL™ TOOLBOX TALKS – a 5 CD set. 

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