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Five lessons in leadership from the Thai cave rescue mission

Five lessons in leadership from the Thai cave rescue mission

What does the successful Thai cave rescue mission teach us about leadership? Plenty. It’s a gripping story of how a desperate team pursued outcomes against a rapidly ticking clock and overcame insurmountable odds to achieve their goal.

The world held its collective breath during July. After being trapped underground for 9 days, 12 young members of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach were found kilometers into the flooded Tham Luang caves. Rising monsoon water levels, toxic gases, darkness and the complex cave system made this a high risk rescue operation even for experienced cave rescue divers, let alone children with no dive experience.

Frantic Thai authorities showed us all the value of leadership by establishing clear, shared priorities, asking for help, engaging the right team needed for the job, and then planning and meticulously executing their strategy for success.

Lesson 1: Set clear priorities and make sure the whole team shares them.

In seeking to safely rescue the boys, the Thai authorities set clear and consistent priorities from the start. These were shared priorities, leading to a cohesive, well-bonded 1,000-member strong rescue team.

Lesson 2: Identify Risks Early

Tragically, a former Navy Seal Diver, Saman Kunan, lost consciousness and died while delivering oxygen tanks. This underscored the danger of the mission. No matter the experience, leaders need to look out for everyone in the team – including each other.

Lesson 3: Ask for help to get the skills you need.

Early on, Thai authorities reached out internationally for experienced disaster experts and cave divers and were rewarded with the world’s best from 13 countries – including UK dive buddies Rick Stanton and John Volanthen, who discovered the boys and would lead the subsequent rescue operations.

Lesson 4: Assess your options, choose the best, but be ready to pivot if circumstances change.

The Thai authorities started with three options, including the drilling of a shaft through the mountain or waiting out monsoon season. Both were safer options. The final option, to swim the boys out, was the most risky of all. But after the oxygen in the cave system started to thin to dangerous levels, the most high-risk option was quickly identified as the only option left.

Lesson 5: Undertake meticulous planning. Test your plan, refine and execute.

The actual rescue operation was carried out over three days, but only after the team had practised and refined their plan in a pool.  Following the successful rescue of four boys on day one, the plan was reviewed and refined further to gain greater efficiencies. Subsequent successful rescue efforts became more streamlined and took less time to achieve.

The successful rescue of the Wild Boar soccer team will be remembered as an extraordinary achievement and it shows us how planning and prioritising, communication, and leading cohesive teams offers a pathway to successful outcomes, even against the odds.

Want to elevate your leadership capacity?

Safety Dimensions offers accredited and non-accredited leadership training for emerging leaders. Through our training, you’ll learn how to effectively communicate, set clear priorities, build team cohesiveness and implement operational plans and continuous improvement.

Want this program customised for your workplace and industry?
Call 1300 453 555 or email info@safetydimensions.com.au

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WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

WHS Learner Profile – Kevin Walker

Kevin Walker undertook the BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety*, a nationally recognised qualification that trained him to identify hazards in the workplace, assist with responding to incidents, assess and control risk, and consult on work health and safety issues.

As a worker in the QLD building and construction industry, he was eligible for a Construction Skills Queensland subsided place to undertake the program. We asked Kevin about his experience of doing the program, what he learnt and how his workplace will benefit from his new WHS skills.

Note: the BSB41415 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety Kevin undertook has been superseded by the BSB41419 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety.

Kevin, tell us a bit about yourself and the kind of work you do?

I work as a blocklayer/bricklayer but also have experience working in mining. I finished school at Year 10 and went from school straight into a construction apprenticeship. Training in those days included TAFE. They tried to teach us the safe way to do things, but when I got onto a worksite we were just expected to get the job done – regardless of whether the job site or work methods were safe or not. I remember in the late 1980s laying bricks while standing on top of a 44-gallon drum!

When I worked in the mines, they were very safety focused – it’s a very high-risk environment so there is a lot more training and attention on risk management and hazard reduction. This safety focus really rubbed off on me and I took that thinking into my next construction job. Even though the attitude of the construction industry hadn’t changed, mine definitely had.

 

Why did you choose to do the course?

I was very interested in furthering my education in safety and getting a formal qualification. I saw the Workplace Dimensions advert on Facebook for Construction Skills Queensland subsidised training and it was exactly what I was looking for.

I’d seen WHS programs advertised before, they were expensive; plus I’d also have to take a whole week off work unpaid, which would make it even more difficult. The program subsidy from Construction Skills Queensland made the difference – it’s made doing my Cert IV in WHS possible and now everyone on-site benefits from the knowledge and skills I have.

Find out more about CSQ subsidised training >>

 

What did you get out of the course?

I saw safety in a different light and I enjoyed it immensely. Previously I couldn’t really explain safety to people as effectively as I wanted to. I knew the WHS Act was a legal requirement everyone is bound by, but now I have the language and tools to break down the concepts and explain it to others on site.

I’ve now got the skills to have powerful conversations that engage people to think for themselves about what they’re doing, how they do it and to come up with solutions that make the work and environment safer. Knowing what’s safe and legally compliant is one thing, but being able to get your whole crew on board with you is a different skill. I know the course has really helped me with that and to become a safety leader.

My boss and our Estimator at work both have the WHS qualification, so we have someone at every level with the knowledge to cover our legal obligations, and most importantly send our crew home in one piece every night. I had Kevin Obermuller as the trainer and he explained everything until we all understood the concepts and used his life experiences in many industries to tell great stories to make the information hit home.

It’s amazing that spending even 5 minutes looking closely at risks can make a huge impact.

 

What has been the impact of you doing the course?

I have stopped work recently because of an unsafe site, even though the client pushed for us to start. In the ‘bad old days’, workers would just give in to the pressure and start the job. I’ve always known it but now I have the legal background knowledge to explain my rights and obligations and take the action needed to not start work until we are satisfied we have identified all risks and managed them.

Now that the crew know I’ve done the qualification, they come to me for advice. We now have the confidence to stop work if any new hazards come up through the day and ensure they’re managed before anyone starts work again. Previously, the boys often wanted to jump in and just start working without having safety measures in place – like wearing dust masks. Now I can’t walk past this.

Now I can explain the legal side and the more and more I talk, the more people get it. The crew now share stories about things that have happened on other sites. Combining our experiences and perspectives makes the safety message come alive.

I’m also implementing pre-inspection walk-throughs of our jobs to check the site risks. This not only ensures the site is safe before we turn up, but is saving the boss money because we don’t have crews standing around at start time because the site isn’t safe for us.

Another thing that came out of the course is that I’m now implementing a sit-down chat with all our new people to go through the SWMS (Safe Work Method Statements). Rather than just handing them the documents, I now go through it with them and have them thoroughly understand what they are signing on to. The SWMS can be long so in the past some people just sign them off without understanding they are actually signing a legal document.

On-site today, we had a contractor truck driver arrive. He’d parked ready to start work. I pulled him up and we looked at the risks – he hadn’t been aware of the powerlines as a potential hazard. Without that conversation, he would not have been ready to start work. He moved his truck out of the danger zone after that conversation and he thanked me for bringing it to his attention when he left. This is the difference this course makes – you just don’t step over anything that can put people at risk.

 

What would you say to others considering doing the course?

This course is like the invention of the wheel – you look back and see how things used to be before you had that knowledge. You do things and operate very differently when you don’t know what you don’t know. Now, with the knowledge of WHS, we are doing jobs completely differently when it comes to safety and the jobs are still getting done to a high standard and on time.

I wish more people were able to do the course and take the opportunity of CSQ funding. Having the subsidy available takes away a big financial barrier to doing the course and I am recommending more of our people get this knowledge. I encourage at least one person from every construction company to do the Cert IV in WHS. Put your hand up for the responsibility – this training makes all the difference. Doing the program has opened my eyes – once you have the knowledge you are never the same.

Workplace Dimensions thanks Kevin for speaking to us and wish him all the best keeping everyone safe!

  Do you know we offer the updated BSB41419 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety

program in a live, interactive online format? Contact us to find out more here >>

The BSB41419 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety is now available!

Contact us to express your interest in a customised program or if you are after a public program contact us for upcoming dates.

 

Gain your qualification in Work Health & Safety in a live online environment, via computer or device

Our BSB41419 Certificate IV in Work Health and Safety program is now available face-to-face (where government Covid protocols allow) or through a facilitator-led, real-time, interactive training environment – via an internet connected computer or device.

This could be the right time to add value to your role while working at home or from the workplace.

FOR ALL INDUSTRIES

 

 

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How the design and delivery of your training program matters

How the design and delivery of your training program matters

Ever attended a training program that didn’t flow or in which you felt confused or bored?  Instead of being inspired by the content and taking in new information, you’re watching the clock and wishing that people would stop dragging out the day by asking questions so you could just get out of there?

If that sounds familiar, then it probably had nothing to do with the subject matter and a lot to do with how the training program was designed and delivered.

Let’s face it, your staff may not always be excited about attending training either. The reality is that most organisations need to train staff in subject areas that are business crucial and at the same time are perhaps considered dry or technically focused.

How do you ensure the information is transferred in a way that  your staff will gain the intended value?
This is one of the most common problems we hear about.
25 years of designing and delivering training have taught us to successfully transfer knowledge or skills to the learner – regardless of the content –  the design and delivery of a training program needs to be:

  • Straight-forward and easy to remember
  • Engaging and relatable
  • Enables the learner to leave knowing how to apply what they have learnt into their everyday role.

We asked one of our lead instructional designers, Penny Salazar about the value of instructional design.

What turns complex or mountains of content into impactful training that works?

“An instructional designer’s job is to focus on outcomes and put learners at the centre of the training experience. Our job is to build engaging learning activities and develop ways for learners to practice skills in a way that is as close to real life as possible. Combine this with an excellent facilitator, and it is a recipe for something magical.”

So, how can you evaluate your program design to see if it will create an awesome training experience before you commence training?

We always start by looking at the purpose of the program, or learning outcomes. Some programs need to equip learners with the knowledge and skills they need to do a specific job, whilst other programs focus on cultivating new or improved ways of thinking.  This might be to drive business or culture improvements, such as an increased focus on workplace diversity and inclusion.  We ask “What do we want learners to DO / BE / ACT as a result of the training?”  This provides the roadmap to check off against both during, and at the end of the design process.

How do you make sure people retain and use the knowledge beyond the training program?

Organisations want to know that their investment in training is going to have an impact beyond the training session. If your program is all theory information and content without giving people the context – a ‘why’ for being there – then it’s unlikely your training is going to be sustainable. Our program design gives a big focus on the “why” – because when people get the importance of how the learning can impact their role (and life) at a personal level – they ‘own’ the learning experience.   We also focus on how the design of the training motivates learners to apply what they’ve learnt into their day to day work life so learning outcomes and positive habits become the “new way” of getting things done – and that’s what training is all about.

In summary, if you ever receive feedback like ‘boring’ or ‘didn’t understand’ look at your instructional design first – it makes all the difference towards achieving the outcomes your organisation wants, and just as importantly – gives learners a really enjoyable experience.

Want more information on how we can help design bespoke or customised programs you can own, email us info@safetydimensions.com.au

 

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Want to talk about instructional design?

We can partner with you to find the right solution for your training needs be it bespoke, customised, tailored or off the shelf.

Check out range of programs which can be customised, tailored or 'off the shelf'

Find out more about how we can instructionally design a program that meets your needs – call us on 1300 453 555.

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The link between WHS & your bottom line

The link between WHS & your bottom line

Evidence shows that organisations who invest in health and safety culture have a competitive advantage.

A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine looked at the financial growth of public companies that scored highly in the Corporate Health Achievement Award (CHAA) nominations. The CHAA awards recognise the healthiest, safest companies and organisations in North America and aim to raise awareness of best practices in workplace health and safety programs.1

As part of their application for the awards, organisations presented trend data showing a reduction of health risk, health-cost savings, or other impact on the business as a result of their safety, wellness, and health programs as well as their leadership and management culture.

Using this data, researchers took the top 17 performing companies and created stock market investment scenario, analysing the period spanning 2001 to 2014, using a hypothetical investment of $10,000.

The results?

Companies who did well in health and safety performance achieved a 333% return, compared to the stock market (S&P 500 index) return of 105% during the same period.

Even in the lowest-performing scenario, the CHAA companies achieved a 204% return, compared to an S&P return of 105% during the same period.

This research may have also identified an association between companies that focus on health and safety and companies that manage other aspects of their business equally well.

The modelling suggests that organisation that invested significantly in health and safety programs can outperform other companies in the marketplace.


REFERENCE:
Tracking the Market Performance of Companies That Integrate a Culture of Health and Safety: An Assessment of Corporate Health Achievement Award Applicants. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. January 2016 – Volume 58 – Issue 1 – p 3–8 doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000638.

Learn More About Our Foundational Safety Leadership Program

Focusing on shifting individual attitudes and mindsets regarding how safety is viewed in the workplace, this program also teaches new skills and knowledge to embed behaviour change at an individual and organisational level.

To find out how we can customise this program for your needs call us on 1300 453 555.

Want to transform your organisation's safety culture?

Download Course OutlinesSafety Dimensions offers accredited and non-accredited leadership training for leaders, safety professionals and employees to support organisations to effectively deal with safety performance challenges.

We can train anywhere in Australia and our programs can be customised for your workplace and industry. Download our program guide.

Call 1300 453 555 or email info@safetydimensions.com.au

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Safety programs needs hearts and minds to succeed

Safety programs needs hearts and minds to succeed

One of the most difficult things about creating a strong safety culture is engaging the hearts and minds of everyone in your organisation to take ownership of safety – regardless of their title or job function.

Even with excellent systems and processes and an understanding your legal obligations – as behavioural specialists – we know if people really don’t perceive their actions could cause harm, changing their behaviour is very hard.

In addition to great systems and processes, whether in the Learning and Development area or Safety, you need to focus on 4 areas to shift safety culture, or implement any change process. These are 4 vital areas that underpin any attempt to shift behaviour.

They are:

Without your organisation having these 4 areas working together to engage the hearts and minds of supervisors, managers and leaders – they will say the same thing over and over, and incidents will keep repeating over and over. Neglecting any of those 4 areas is at best case, a recipe for frustration and fear – and in the worst case could lead to injuries and potential fatalities.

Think about the statements below – are they being driven by Values, Beliefs, Mindset or Attitude?

  • It won’t happen to me?
  • It will be quicker to do it this way?
  • I will get in trouble if I stop
  • I’ve always done it this way
  • Wrap me in bubble wrap why don’t you
  • Someone else will handle what I just saw
  • Phew! close call but we got there

It’s almost guaranteed that if you have put all the tools and systems in place and you’re not getting improvements in your safety/ leadership culture or safety statistics – then it’s a failure for your organisation to engage Values + Beliefs + Mindset + Attitude.

There is also one more critical factor that supports this – role modelling.
If as a leader, you don’t embody the attributes that you want to see in your people and ‘walk the talk’ – changing others is impossible.

Thankfully shifting VBMA’s, (and therefore Hearts and Minds) doesn’t have to be difficult – it can be done en-masse with a well-structured training program.

It is because of this understanding we work with leaders on the Hearts and Minds before cascading any safety leadership program throughout an organisation.

To find out more about a bespoke Hearts and Minds program tailored to your organisation’s challenges and potential click contact us here.

Ready To Engage Hearts & Minds?

Learn More About Our Foundational Behavioral Safety Program

Focusing on shifting individual attitudes and mindsets regarding how safety is viewed in the workplace,
this program also teaches new skills and knowledge to embed behaviour change at an individual and organisational level.

Find out more and download the course outline below or call us on 1300 453 555.

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Workplace to support domestic violence survivors with additional leave

Workplace to support domestic violence survivors with additional leave

In a landmark decision 3 weeks ago, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission decided to provide five days’ unpaid leave per annum to all employees (including casuals) experiencing family and domestic violence  which is defined as violent, threatening or other abusive behaviour by people who are, or have been in an intimate relationship.

Whilst the final model will be released 1 May, it does signify a significant change in Australian employment awards.  In their ruling, the Full Bench introduced this change by saying:

  • Almost 2.2 million Australian women have experienced family or domestic violence, or 1in 4
  • Domestic and intimate partner homicides represent the highest proportion of any category of homicides in Australia.
  • At least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner.
  • Family and domestic violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health among Australian women aged between 15 and 44.
    See sources for statistics here.

Fair Work also acknowledged such violence not only affects those who suffer it, but the children who are exposed to it, extended families, friends and work colleagues.  The commission also acknowledged that while men can, and do, experience family and domestic violence, such violence is a phenomenon that disproportionately affects women. This leave will be open to all.

Whilst the final model will be released on 1 May, in addition to updating company policies and informing all your Managers, we see this as an opportunity to further highlight this issue through education.   It is important to remove any stigma regarding domestic violence, the causes and impact, and importantly inform staff as to the support available through this significant change.

We encourage Work Health and Safety and Learning and Development departments to align this change to an education campaign to continue to raise the profile of this serious issue and help reduce those alarming statistics.

For more information on the ruling, click here.

SOURCE

Summary: https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/sites/awardsmodernfouryr/2018fwcfb1691-summary.pdf

Full Decision: https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/decisionssigned/html/2018fwcfb1691.htm#P668_52257

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