Good Relationships and Safety

The working relationships managers have with their employees are critical for allowing safety reports to surface. To overcome some of the ingrained biases that stop us from speaking up, the shift to positive reporting can make a huge difference. This doesn’t mean ignoring the negatives - on the contrary, it means creating an environment where people feel comfortable to report those too.

We are aiming for proportionately more positives than negatives, but somewhat ironically, this will likely lead to a greater number of negatives being reported overall. Any approach exclusively emphasising the reporting of negative events will fail to optimise their capture. And there is a huge benefit to increasing the reporting of positives - the whole process enhances relationships.

Consider the C3RS reporting intervention at one site that saw a statistically significant 41 per cent reduction in derailments. In this case, confidential reporting was used as a tool to restore trust. The intervention also helped reduce the de-certification of locomotive engineers - where authorisation to operate trains was removed - by 31 per cent.5 These reductions were achieved in the context of improved safety culture

Example of a ‘golden ratio’ reporting card

FIGURE 10.1 Example of a ‘golden ratio’ reporting card.

and employee engagement. As one interviewee put it, “Filling out a C3RS form makes you think about what happened, so you are less likely to do it again.” Essentially, the act of reporting makes one more reflective and mindful.

Relationships benefitted at many different levels. Collaboration was visible right the way through the intervention. A peer review team comprising frontline staff, management and the Federal Railroad Administration undertook root cause analysis and problem solving. Senior managers also monitored corrective actions in response to close call events. The results of the changes were then communicated back to employees to close the loop.

Interviewees said that the relationships between frontline staff and managers improved, with senior managers expressing their satisfaction with this enhanced employee engagement. The pursuit of a reduction in safety incidents aligned with better risk awareness and improved vertical and lateral communication - it paid financial dividends, too.6

Positive Safety Scripts

The C3RS example shows that in response to a problematic situation, it is possible to create a new, positive script for both workplace relationships and safety. This is best achieved through close collaboration and shared safety goals - these are all key elements of a mindful safety culture.

Taking this one step further, the same principles can be applied to situations likely to pose challenging safety risks in the future. This is all about adopting a preventative mindset to visualise the safety of people and other assets, then implementing a plan to ensure this happens. A positive, future oriented safety script will therefore:

  • • Visualise positive safety outcomes for all those involved in operations.
  • • Carefully assess all the known risks by fully brainstorming them.
  • • Consider a variety of possible emergencies and ‘dreamed up’ scenarios to encourage flexible thinking for dealing with hidden or currently unknown risks.
  • • Train or ‘dress rehearse’ these scenarios to test operational readiness.

The case study of Prince Harry and Markle’s wedding shows how this can be achieved in practice.

Case Study: The Royal Wedding

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding actually provides a great example of how we can positively orchestrate the identification and control of substantial health and safety risks, with the goal of averting an unthinkable tragedy. The media is constantly able to attract our attention by playing on our worst fears, but the normal rules of the game were dutifully suspended in the case of the royal wedding. More than two billion people worldwide watched the event, and a security operation costing an estimated £30 million was deployed to keep everyone safe, whilst ensuring the spectacle unfolded as seamlessly as possible before the cameras.7-8

The town of Windsor, with its narrow, cobbled, publicly accessible streets, was referred to by the former Head of Royal Protection as a “hell of a job to secure”.9 The event was a prime target for a motley crew of terrorists, protesters, royal stalkers and wayward drunks. Months of planning, the systematic identification of hazards, the control of known risks and the anticipation of possible emergencies proved indispensable for successfully managing the vast crowd of around 100,000 on the day. No bombs went off, no drunks or stalkers got near the royals and, more to the point, virtually everyone enjoyed the celebration in the May sunshine. ‘Elf and safety’ created the perfect conditions for the royal fun, but I do not believe any news outlet ran that particular headline, suggesting old media habits die hard.

Controlling the Risks to the Royals

The measures implemented prevented a major incident through the clear identification and control of risks. Police and Special Forces had to be ready for terror attacks that could have involved knives, vehicles or suicide bombers.10 The entire route of the royal procession had been walked and assessed months in advance, with the layout of Windsor Castle closely studied. Security prevailed on the day through the use of hi-tech resources and a strong police presence.11 Every angle was covered.

  • • In the air. Helicopters patrolled the skies as a constant high-profile reminder that everyone was being watched. A no-fly zone was implemented and a defence system was deployed to jam any drones attempting to enter the area.
  • • On the river. Highly visible, marine police units were deployed on the River Thames.
  • • On the roads. Pinch-points that could help would-be attackers were identified in advance, whilst escape routes and safe locations were determined just in case. Road closures were implemented to thwart terror attacks on large groups of pedestrians and hostile vehicle barriers and automatic number plate recognition technology were used. Areas of high risk for when the royal carriage drove through Windsor were monitored.
  • • On the ground. The presence of armed police, plain-clothes officers, sniffer dogs to detect explosives, airport-style security checks and ‘stop and search’ checks reduced the security risks. There was also a ‘ring of steel’ perimeter around Windsor Castle itself. Bins were replaced with plastic ones that couldn’t be moved, preventing their potential use as weapons.
  • • On rooftops. Snipers had the advantage of seeing events - and any potential threats - from their unique vantage point.
  • • Stalking the stalkers. Police viewed photos of obsessed stalkers in advance of the wedding. The plan involved surrounding a stalker with plain-clothes officers who would then discreetly usher him or her away. Even before the wedding, known royal stalkers were visited to assess the risk they posed.12
  • • Dress rehearsal. Part of a former RAF base was transformed into a replica of Windsor High Street to simulate the conditions on the day. A dry run was performed with a range of staged events, from anti-monarchy demonstrations to full-blown attacks. An Iraq veteran and his wife played the royal couple and they were assailed by all manner of unthinkable horrors that included chemical attacks, snatch operations by would-be kidnappers and even a grenade attack that forced the pair into a ballistic blanket for safety. To prevent a terrible, alternative wedding, worst-case scenarios were brought to life with the skill of a Hollywood movie director.

All the security personnel involved were galvanised by the goal of ensuring the safety of the public and the 80 members of the royal family in attendance. They dreamt up surreal-sounding scenarios to ensure the ‘impossible’ did not become reality and destroy the celebrations. The hard work paid off. There were no significant incidents of note on the day.

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