The Seven Dwarfs of Safety...
Recently I was asked to speak at a safety conference where we discussed risk carried by an organisation and the impact this could have on the bottom line. Essentially, looking at risk is akin to peering into a crystal ball and gives you the ability to assess and meet current needs while addressing the future requirements of the business. This is a distinct competitive advantage.
I wanted to take a very serious and complex issue and present it in a simple yet memorable way to help organisations identify potential threats. From this was born 'The Seven Dwarfs (NB: not Dwarves) of Safety'... A quick re-familiarisation of their Disney namesakes, they are: Dopey, Sneezy, Bashful, Doc, Grumpy, Happy and Sleepy.
1. Dopey: "Ignorantia legis neminem excusat" - ignorance of the law is no excuse. Business owners, members of the C-suite and other senior management cannot claim to be unaware of what the law actually means and ignorance certainly doesn’t allow a mechanism for avoiding the consequence and/or liability that results from breaching that law. Creating a safe working environment is critical to the success of your business and is one of the best ways to retain staff and maximise productivity. Knowing and understanding the occupational health and safety (OH&S) laws and new work health and safety (WHS) laws will help you avoid unnecessary costs and damage to your business caused by workplace injury and illness and the attendant reduction in productivity.
2. Sneezy: Immunisation is a simple, safe and effective way of protecting people against harmful diseases before they come into contact with them in the community. Immunisation not only protects individuals, but also the general public by reducing the spread of disease. The Immunise Australia Program implements the National Immunisation Program (NIP) Schedule which currently includes vaccines against a total of 16 diseases. It has been debated whether business should pay for the cost of the vaccination but when looking at risk it’s important to evaluate the TBL (Triple Bottom Line) - what is the potential cost of doing nothing?
3. Bashful: In a post GFC and Sarbanes Oxley world, transparent communication in the workplace is at an all time high yet research shows that employees are still not speaking-up enough and the consequences of this can have a direct impact on the sustainability of the workforce. 360 degree open and honest feedback combined with structured communication channels can lead to optimal performance by employees and a safe and healthy culture. The dire consequences of not speaking up and maintaining the status quo can be examined in The Baghdad Central Prison, formerly known as Abu Ghraib.
4. Doc: "You need to measure it to be able to manage it". Understanding historical data and looking at trends (such as demography) can place a organisation in a position of strength. In medicine we need to look at not only the demand that will be placed on future needs such as aged care but who will service the patient population. Are there enough Drs in school now to meet future demands? Is the retention rate of nursing graduates strong enough to cope with ED flow in 2030? We all know about SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) and these should be held in consultation with long term end points to plan effectively.
5. Grumpy: An unhappy or disgruntled employee can pose the greatest risk to an organisation. Attention and focus must be placed on all employees, not just the 'squeaky wheels'. There needs to be consistent governance in place to be able to protect a company's IP, the employees, their families and protect against sabotage or theft of the company assets. It has been reported that almost 80 per cent of employees are dissatisfied with their jobs in some way and when that frustration escalates to the point where employees leave, it can cost an average of one fifth of the employee's salary to find a replacement, not to mention the direct and ongoing loss in productivity.
6. Happy: Action for Happiness has created 10 keys to happier living: 1. Do things for others 2. Connect with people 3. Take care of your body 4. Notice the world around 5. Keep learning new things 6. Have goals to look forward to 7. Find ways to bounce back 8. Take a positive approach 9. Be comfortable with who you are 10. Be part of something bigger... Happier staff are healthier, they are retained, the IP within the business is protected and the brand is strengthened.
7. Sleepy: Fatigue is mental or physical exhaustion that prevents one from being able to function normally. Fatigue is more than just feeling tired or drowsy, and high levels of fatigue cause reduced productivity and performance and increases the risk of accidents and injuries. Fatigue affects the ability to think clearly. As a result people who are fatigued are unable to gauge their own level of impairment, and are unaware that they are not functioning as well or as safely as they would be if they were not fatigued. Performance levels drop as work periods become longer and sleep loss increases. Staying awake for 17 hours has the same effect on performance as having a blood alcohol content of 0.05%. Staying awake for 21 hours is equivalent to a blood alcohol content of 0.1%. Circadian Rhythm, the dependence on stimulants and depressants are all factors to consider in industries where shift work is undertaken. Fatigue has been cited as a contributing factor in disasters such as Exxon Valdes, Chernobyl/Three Mile Island and the Challenger space shuttle.
If you would like to discuss the presentation or managing risk in your organisation, please contact me.
Be safe and well.