YSD BLOG

Everyone says change is hard. Maybe that is why we have so many people who have addictions that are so hard to stop. Many companies have difficult times in changing processes, procedures and people for that matter. But if we ever want to get more out of life we have to give up the bad behaviors that are holding us back, the bad processes that are slowing us down, and maybe the misaligned people that are creating havoc in our lives and identify what we really want.

Leading Change

Every New Year people make resolutions to change some form of their behavior and usually by the 15th or 20th of the month those resolutions are out the window and the old behaviors creep back in. What is it that causes these short-lived resolutions to fail? Is it commitment? Is it that we didn't realize just what we were giving up? Is it a lack of willpower?

Changing bad behaviors is hard to do especially when we have become used to them over many, many years and hold on to them like old friends. Discarding bad behaviors is often difficult because we don't see the benefits of discarding bad behaviors immediately. And we are all about immediate gratification right?

CASE STUDY: Having smoked cigars for many years and making excuses about how I could quit at any time I realized that I had to get serious about quitting if I would ever see my grand-kids grow up. I tried to quit 4 or 5 times usually going about a week to two weeks before I broke down and smoked another stogie for some excuse or another. Here I am, an HSE Leader, constantly reminding myself that the H stands for Health and I was having a problem with quitting smoking. I knew it was bad for me, everyone knows it is bad for them, but quitting? Really? It's tough. Tougher than those who don't smoke can imagine.

Something happened though - maybe it was mental but, the cigars started tasting bad, it seemed that many of them were poorly wrapped, I was spending too much money on them and not getting anything back in return and my dissatisfaction with smoking finally reached a new level. I put them down, threw them out and quit cold turkey. The first few weeks were the hardest but, after racking up a month I looked forward to going for 2 months, then 6 months and now it has been 19 months. I won't say I have really quit though until I reach 24 months since that is the threshold where most people cross who never return to smoking. The benefits are pretty impressive actually. I have been able to enjoy food more, much to my detriment. And at 56, I was actually able to starting running a little around the block.

Resistance at all cost is the most senseless act there is. -Friedrich Durrenmatt

Do you have a bad behavior that you know will hurt or kill you? Do you have a process or procedure in your company that you know could be improved to prevent someone from being hurt, or do you have someone in your organization that just doesn't get it and will cause harm to themselves or others if they don't change or if you don't change them?

Are you going to delay making the change you know you need to make? For what reason? If you know it needs to be done are you dragging your feet thinking it will get better by itself? Normally bad behaviors don't go away by themselves and they tend to nag at you for years even after you have quit them.

You can change your behaviors when you change your spirit, your thinking and your approach to life. The revitalization to the happiness generated in your life is the reward you get for dropping bad behaviors.

Now about my weight...

Chris Thuneman is an accomplished safety professional who shares lessons learned over a 30 year Oil, Gas and Chemical career to help others achieve a higher level of safety awareness in some of the most hazardous working environments. Please feel free to connect with him at:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or at 888-859-5653 

Martin had been with the Company a short time - only 4 months but, he had pegged the leadership attitudes which foretold the events unravelling in front of him now. Only a month ago, he had been riding with the Company's VP of Operations , Wenscott, when they had a discussion about shipping some samples to a customer for analysis which would lead to a big contract for the Company.

 Safety Culture

Martin, the Division's HSE Manager, had been expressing his concern regarding the handling of the samples when he was interrupted by Wenscott's phone ringing loudly in the console of the car. Wenscott picked up the phone and continued driving the rental car as they sped to the manufacturing site in order to secure this deal quickly with the customer. It was the President of the Company giving Wenscott some last minute pep talk as if it were needed and probably just to show that he was still very much in control.

Wenscott hung up agitated and was quiet for a moment. As Martin began to resume the conversation about the samples Wenscott blew up and began exclaiming how there were way too many rules and regulations and that this discussion was unnecessarily slowing him down from securing the deal with his customer. Clearly something the President had said to him left him worried about his future.

As Wenscott and Martin met with the shipping department Wenscott explained how important it was to get the samples to the customer as quickly as possible. Shipping began a long explanation regarding the requirements to keeping the samples chilled as part of the quality program. In fact, it was a busy part of the season, there had been recent downsizings in their department and they wanted to take the time needed to make sure they understood how to ship them safely but, Wenscott flew into another tirade - he didn't give a damn - get the samples there the fastest way possible and stormed out angrily. Geeez, this Company is made up of fools he thought. No one is paying attention to the customers needs. He felt restricted every time he asked to have something handled and he was fed up with it.

A week later Wenscott hung his head low on desk rubbing his forehead as the Customer called to ask about the samples. Where were they? And by the way - since you can't deliver samples on time we have chosen your competitor to supply us.

A month later, a letter crossed Martin's desk from the FAA. He opened it and groaned when he read the ominous word "VIOLATION" along with a list of citations issued and a proposed penalty of $50,000.00. It appears the shipping department had submitted the samples by plane (the fastest way to the customer) and had packed them in dry ice without properly declaring them in the airway bill and failing to use the proper package. The FAA had intercepted the samples before they were shipped. The words, "there are too many rules and regulations" played quietly in Martin's head. 

A follow up investigation with all of the senior leaders revealed that the root of the problem laid squarely at their feet. They had not been walking the talk. It was not enough to state the safety rules to employees and expect them to be followed when the leaders clearly did not consider them or even know them. This was a moment of truth - they had looked into the mirror and didn't like what they saw.

Martin considered the essential facts: Lost Customer, Lost Revenue, $50,000.00 regulatory fine, legal costs, damaged reputation, and on and on. The Leadership attitude had been about how to get the job done at all costs rather than how to get the job done correctly.

After a long discussion about safety in a group meeting, the Leadership finally recognized their need for help - which was a breakthrough moment and the first step in any process where change is required.

Through a long and continuous campaign focusing on its safety issues the Company achieved a very high level of safety awareness and significant improvements in its safety performance. In fact, safety processes became embedded in many parts of the organization and it became regenerative at some of its work sites.  It is not an ending though, but a journey to continuously improve upon.

Do you need help with your Safety Culture? Are you or your leaders part of the problem? Check out "How to Change the Safety Behavior in Your Organization" with our free download. 

Chris Thuneman is an accomplished oil, gas and chemical professional who shares lessons learned over a 30 year career to help others achieve a higher level of safety awareness in some of the most hazardous working environments. Please feel free to connect with him at:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.or at 888-859-5653 

www.yoursafetydept.com

Bucket-head was a cargo inspector in the Texas City area and had just boarded a chemical carrier to conduct cleanliness inspections of a number of cargo tanks. How Bucket-head got his nickname is not clear but it brings up images of a huge man with a thick skull. Bucket-head was about to have one of the luckiest days of his life.

 Confined Space Pictures 702812

After meeting with the Chief Officer and identifying the tanks to be inspected he was sent off with the 3rd mate and a crew member to begin conducting tank inspections. The 3rd mate would enter a tank as Bucket-head watched and then Bucket-head would enter behind him. The crew member was standing by the tank to assist in opening and closing the hatches and to perform confined space attendant duties.

While Bucket-head and the 3rd mate were in one of the tanks conducting an inspection the 2nd mate unknowingly came along and called the crew member to help with some other tasks aboard the vessel. The obedient crew member left his post. The confined space attendant was now missing.

Shortly thereafter Bucket-head and the 3rd mate, still in the bottom of the tank, heard the gut-wrenching sound of the cargo hatch swing close and lock down with a thud. They scrambled to the top of the tank with the only light they had, being the flashlights that they held, and using the lights and their hands began beating on the tank hatch for someone to open it. The 3rd mate, realizing he had his radio on, began calling frantically for someone to answer him and come open the hatch but, the radio did not penetrate the tank walls or reach anyone's ears on the outside of the tank. For nearly 45 minutes they beat on the hatch until their hands were bloodied and they wore themselves out with fear. They knew what was about to come.

Tearfully and regrettably they traveled their way back to the bottom of the tank to pray and to await their fate. They could hear the sounds of nitrogen purging begin in the tanks adjacent to them and figured it would be only a matter of time for them now. There was nothing left to do but wait.

In the control room the Chief Officer was ready to begin loading operations but he was missing his tank cleanliness inspection paperwork and was trying to sort out where it was. It was at that moment that he realized that the 3rd mate was missing and called for his crew to locate him. 

It was a joyful noise to Bucket-head and the 3rd mate when they heard clanging over-head and the hatch swing open letting the light of day into the tank. They scrambled out happy to be alive but, the crew member who left his post would regret it.

Bucket-head left his job voluntarily - he didn't want to go through that again and that saved HR some paperwork over the assault on the crew member. 

Confined Space Entry is serious business - people can lose their lives if it is not done well. Training is required for the Entrant, Attendant, Entry Supervisor and Rescue Personnel.

At a minimum the Attendant should understand his role which is:

  • To maintain an accurate count of workers

  • To stopping unauthorized worker entry

  • To identify potential hazards and signs of exposure

  • To monitoring activities inside and outside

  • To maintaining continuous contact with entrants

  • To know when to order entrants to evacuate

  • To never leaving the space unattended

  • To know the procedures for summoning rescue

If you need help with Confined Space Training or would like to know more about your role as an entry, attendant, supervisor or rescue personnel please feel free to call or visit:

Your Safety Department, LLC

Chris Thuneman is an accomplished oil, gas and chemical professional who shares lessons learned over a 30 year career to help others achieve a higher level of safety awareness in some of the most hazardous working environments. Please feel free to connect with him at:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 888-859-5653 

ASHI2

Driving down the highway in a rural area of Arkansas I saw two boys up ahead playing in the ditch along the roadway. One had a look of shock while the other was behind him wrestling with him. I figured the older brother was getting the best of his sibling but in an instant, as my vehicle approached closer, I was able to discern what was really happening. The two boys were in a ditch filled with muddy water from the recent heavy rains. They were on top of a motorcycle whose handlebars had been twisted like a pretzel but, was laying on its side still running. The older boy was not wrestling his brother but, was behind him cradling and holding him above the water. The two boys had been riding the bike and hit a metal street sign just outside of their driveway. The youngest boy had been severely cut, to the bone, on his leg, something I would not see for a few more moments. It was a horrendous site and not one I could have imagined I would be finding myself in just 5 minutes before hand. 

I had been driving along the back roads of Arkansas enjoying the scenery of the Ozarks during the fall. Just passing time, listening to country music, taking the so called Sunday drive just to get out and clear my head. I was not even remotely prepared for what was about to happen but, luckily I had received some basic first aid training as a Boy Scout a few years before and the Scout Motto - "Be Prepared" - rang in my ears. But was I really?

After stopping my vehicle and setting my flashers I began an assessment (I didn't know that was what it was called at the time), and asked the first stupid question of the day, "are you ok?" I could clearly see that they weren't and dropping into the ditch I reached up and turned the motor off of the bike. For a brief moment the environment was quiet and only the splashing of the water was heard. Lifting and pulling on the boys along with the help of the older brother we found ourselves finally up the embankment when the younger boy shrieked in pain and in fear, he had seen his leg badly mangled, bleeding, and cut deep and wide. 

I had some towels in the vehicle and reached to grab them to at least try to control the bleeding on the leg (and perhaps in my mind to stop the young boy from having to gaze at his leg). The boy's home was just behind us about 300 yards back but, no one seemed to notice what was going on. While the older boy held his brother I made a dash to the house and began banging on the door frantically. The mother came out I explained what was happening and our need for more towels as well as calling for an ambulance to come to the site. She made the call, other family members started to jump in and, we all ran back to the ditch with the towels trying to stop the bleeding and to comfort they young boy while we waited for the ambulance.

I left shortly thereafter - kind of embarrassed with myself for having to rely on strictly instinct to handle the crisis. But, then maybe training is all about building into you that instinct so you don't freeze in the moment. You know instinctively what to do and do it. I like to think of myself as a thoughtful person before I go into any action. A crisis like this may not be the right time to be a thoughtful person and so I ask the question again - Could you save a life? Do you have the knowledge and skills to help others when they need you the most? Can you do it instinctively?

That is a big question, one that is often answered incompletely or even avoided.

Maybe a way to help you answer this question is by asking you a few more.

  • Have you had CPR, AED, and First Aid Training in the last 2 years? If not, what is it that is keeping you from getting the training or renewing your skills? $$ or Time is the wrong answer - I don't even want to hear it.

  • Do you have a first aid kit available to you within a reasonable distance in case an accident occurred? Where is it? And if no.....WHY NOT....they are inexpensive and essential.

  • Do you have sanitizing and disposal products, a CPR mask, and eye and hand protection available to you in order to protect yourself from bloodborne pathogens? Why not?

  • Do you even know what a bloodborne pathogen is? If no.....get the training and protect yourself.

  • Do you know how to operate an AED. If no.....get the training so that you can help others when they need you.

  • Do you know that survival rates increase by 62% to 98% when an AED is administered within the first few minutes of cardiac arrest?

  • Are you relying on others to protect you - do you know if they are trained? Are you sure you want their help?

  • Are you worried about helping others because of perceived liability? Do you know about Good Samaritan legislation that has removed any concern for liability?

My hope is that you will make an honest assessment of your own knowledge and skills and then seek to improve them.  None of us want to find ourselves in situations such as these but, not being prepared to deal with it if far worse when they occur. And in life, nothing is guaranteed. The life you save might be a neighbors, a co-worker, or even a family member.

If you would like to learn how to improve your CPR, AED and First Aid knowledge and skills please visit www.yoursafetydept.com or call us at 888-859-5653 for more information.

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