By Chris Mc Donald
CSO, ROSOND, Northern Cape
Chris made contact with DrillSafe and said he had been reading an article on the website and he decided to write a comment, which turned out be more of an article than a comment about safety. So, Chris shared his thoughts with us and we are delighted to share them with you!
In a hazard alert posted in June last year, Colin explained that wrenches are hand tools and should only be used under “human” power. However, in my 25 years of experience as a safety officer I have come to realise that complacency and the human factor is to blame for many an accident. I have talked to many supervisors, operators and workers over the years and the answers are almost all the same “I know what I am doing” or “I have done it before, and nothing happened”.
I have found that spending time with a crew and getting to know the people on a one-to-one basis is the best way for me, as a safety officer to get the message across. I start off by doing small talk with them about their families, I ask questions like are they married or single do they have children, etc.
The more I visit the crew the more they realise that I am not the stereotypical safety officer, “the bully”, but someone who is interested in their well-being. When that happens and it will take time, I get to the point that the crew are starting to trust me and listen to what I have to say, now I am able to get through to them.
A typical visit will go something like this, I will arrive on site and greet everyone, then I will chat about the weekend sport or some nondescript topic and after I have everyone’s attention and everyone is in a relaxed mode, I will start to explain the hazards that surround the workplace, the importance of doing the job according to the procedure, to stop doing a job that they are complacent in doing. They know that doing a job “quickly” or using a “short-cut” are like swear words to me that I abhor.
Years ago, I learnt that if I wanted to succeed in my job, I must walk the talk in everything I do and I must practise what I preach, as I do not know who is watching me. I must never get tired of training, training, training to get the message across.
I am content that in 25 years of being a safety officer I have never received a trophy or a gold medal. My reward comes at the end of each shift when I know my people are safe, uninjured and alive and are returning home to their loved ones and that is worth more than any trophy or a gold medal.
Modern technology has allowed us to achieve things we were unable to do some years ago like Whatsapp groups. I say thanks to my crew daily for working safely - remember we are working with humans not machines!