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Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Safeguard OSH Solutions - Thomson Reuters

Alert24 - Safeguard Update

From Bollywood to Twitter

From Bollywood to Twitter
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Publication Date:
New Zealand

Keynote speaker Richard Coleman began his address to the Safeguard conference with a clip from what he called “the world’s first safety-related Bollywood film”, which he said had helped to transform a previously disastrous safety record at a heavy engineering plant in India.

Chief executive of Melbourne-based consultancy The Interchange, he said that while each organisation has different needs there are some common themes – emotional connection, innovation/diversity – which New Zealand industry could make use of these to “leapfrog the rest of the world” in its H&S performance.

Top of the list is the need to connect emotionally with those who share your journey. “Tell stories, and listen to the stories others tell about the reality of work.”

The Bollywood film, and a companion piece produced for the same organisation’s Australian staff, were part of this process, he said.

“We showed the films to several thousand people, as part of a longer, broader safety change programme, and saw the Indian plant go from being one of the company’s worst performing sites globally to one of the best, while the Australian business reduced its injury rate by 67% in two years and became a leader in its sector.”

He acknowledged that his second theme – to embrace innovation – runs counter to H&S professionals’ suspicion of so-called number eight wire solutions, but urged people to exercise caution without stifling creativity. To prove that New Zealanders are intrinsically innovative, he shared a video of the group in Tairua who last summer built themselves a small sand island below the tide line, to circumvent a beach liquor ban.

“No one got harmed. The local cop said if he’d know about it he’d have joined them. If you want to learn, take a lesson out of those guys’ books.”

Diversity should also be valued, he said, explaining how those who speak different languages will have slightly different perceptions of the same situation. “Language actually drives the way you think about problems, and multiple perspectives on any problem will drive innovation and promote better outcomes.”

Concerning language, he noted that New Zealand’s H&S legislation has an advantage over Australia’s because it talks of “engagement” rather than “consultation” to describe worker input.

“‘Consultation’ is typically pretty formal. It’s a cheap and easy solution, but its effectiveness is pretty low. The word ‘engagement’ takes you to a different place, an opportunity to genuinely connect with people. It takes time and requires genuine commitment, but if you do it properly its impact is significantly larger.

“It’s a strength embedded in your legislation – and you need to use it.”

Coleman also urged delegates to cultivate curiosity, pointing them to Twitter, TED Talks and podcasts as easy sources for new ideas.

“If you want information that’s at the cutting edge, follow someone interesting on Twitter, and look at who they follow. A wealth of information will just land at your feet on a daily basis.”

Closing, he reminded delegates to consider the real impact of safety rules and procedures.

“They may be just making it harder for other people to get on and do their jobs. If you treat people like adults they generally behave like adults, but unfortunately we – and I hold myself accountable here – have often treated people like children.”



People Mentioned:
Richard Coleman
Organisations Mentioned:
The Interchange
Reference No:

From Alert24 - Safeguard Update

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