10 September 2009

Conference 2

More of the same really, although the day was a bit more patchy than yesterday. Larry Hansen continued his addresses, today talking about the signs of safety excellence in companies and the link between safety and safety as a value, not company priority (which I thoroughly agree with). He has put together a way of summarising companies' safety performance into a four-step process. Companies start at stage 1 and depending on how they work through the issues, they may or may not progress:
  1. SWAMP: Safety Without Any Management Process. The dollar rules, and safety is something that is "done to" the company, usually by the regulator.
  2. NORM: Naturally Occuring Reactive Management, where the employee is the problem (operator error!). There are lots of "safety programmes" but the key indicators don't seem to be changing all that much. There isn't a real management commitment to the process and the safety person reports to HR - the department that has the least influence in the eyes of the workers.
  3. Excellence: excellence companies have safety in the boardroom - it is about managment commitment and top-down leadership. Safety is done by design, and everyone is committed to it.
  4. World-Class: safety isn't really talked about - it has gone "invisible" because it is simply "how we do things around here", and people do things safely because it is the right way to do them. Board members genuinely believe that doing it safely increases margins, because there is less money lost through people away from work through injury etc. Safety is by design, and people who don't do it safely are disciplined.

This model is really helpful, and I can see where I might be using it in the future. The rest of the morning was slightly less good: we had two representatives from the DOL and they were totally boring (in fact I think I may have fallen asleep during one of them - oops).

The other really good presentation was John Faisandier, about Thriving Under Fire - how to diffuse angry people. This was excellent and I wish he'd had much more time to talk (they only gave him half an hour!). He was talking about how, when someone tells us they're engaged, we say "Hey, that's wonderful!", or someone's died, we say "Oh, I'm so sorry". But if someone is angry, we duck for cover and say "Not me!" We need to acknowledge the anger and reflect it back, the same way we do with other emotions. I've vaguely done this with the rugrat and it does work, even with an overwrought three-year-old. I've picked up his book so might blog about this again sometime when I've read it.

After work, most of our Wellington staff met for drinks at our "local" - it's the first time in months we've been able to do this. We had a special reason to do so: two birthdays (today and tomorrow). It was really nice to catch up with most of the chaps - one was in Auckland and our part-timer couldn't make it, but everyone else was there - and I'd arranged to be home late so could stay and enjoy myself for a while. Only had a Midori and lemonade, but enjoyed the stories that were flowing around. I could have stayed in town for the conference dinner but decided that I wasn't that keen on hanging out with a bunch of half-cut nurses....

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