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Past Present, Future Forgotten.. so long safety culture

How’s that Safety Culture coming along

Everyone on board.    Great. Your safety record is probably on target then.

Yet did you realise…Your Safety Culture could be at risk.

Even though your people may be physically present – their minds may not necessarily by on the job. Yes, I know.. not your guys and gals, – they are dedicated, hand picked, serious workers – professionals even.

The most important steps in any safety culture program is create awareness of behaviours and eliminate (either quickly, or over time)  those that may be dangerous.

How do you bring awareness to your safety culture team?

Let’s talk mindset.. or more particularly conscious and subconscious.

There are really good reasons why people do the silly things they do…

and its not usually because they are slack, lazy, stupid, thoughtless, thick, indolent, careless, complacent or just stubborn.

Acknowledging this about your team, opens up a dialogue where people feel valued and can then actively participate in your safety culture program.

So, minds..  out of every 10 mins in 60 -your mind “disappears” – wanders off to take a break – more precisely – its busy downloading all the information it has taken in, in the previous 50 minutes – and that can be quiet a lot..   Its filtering and storing useful information, trying to make life easier for you – so that next time you can save some time on the job.

Thats called ALPHA –  or off with the culture fairyfairy qw9wuq

Thats the time when your mind is zoned in – and unaware of what is going on around you.  It’s the time when you are still doing things.. but perhaps when your done, you realise – “Oh, I don’t recall doing that” – you know when you put your keys somewhere and then forget where you put them, or you arrive at your destination – and don’t recall part of the drive.. Hello  Alpha.

Its the state between BETA (fully conscious, and aware) and THETA (deep deep relaxation)
The key point here to recall – is that when you are in ALPHA state – you don’t see anything above your eyes or below your knees…. so when you are working – you probably will hit your head, or trip over something – that you know has been there for ages.. you just “didnt see it”.

ALPHA is what helps you create habits

As busy time saving machines – we are always looking for ways to get the job done quicker… and in the best possible way.   So if we find a short cut.. and we do it regularly – your mind can say – “Hey,he does this all the time – lets make it a habit, so we don’t have to think so hard – and it’ll get done on autopilot”.

BOOM – next thing you know – that thing that you do all the time to save time… that shortcut.. that dangerous omission of a step in the process..  becomes a Habit  – and zoned into Alpha – you don’t even know you are doing it..

Again Safety Culture out the door…   Bad Habits come on in.

Those habits, good or bad – have been stored in your subconscious as an Automatic Subconscious Response. –  No one knows what is going to happen next…

BOATS, I KNOW BOATS..    remember the RACQ Commercial

That is an example of Personal Risk Perception… everyone else is way way way more dangerous than me.   I know what Im doing – but that other fellow – who is doing that shortcut.. he’s got no idea.

And being the responsible safety type person I am, Im going to say, “Hey -don’t do that” -you’ll get hurt” –   I’ll jump up and do it.. cos, well, Im super human – and know what Im doing.. so I wont get hurt like you.

Boom Crash

That Time you wanted to save – went out the door because, I didn’t see the risk.

By doing the activity in the quickest, easiest (probably unsafest) way possible, Im saving the company and myself so much time… Ill get an early mark.      Or will you – again safety culture question…  is it really worth the “time saved” to get the job done… if it’s not safe.

Safety culture communicate

So in essence, our own personal safety culture is about others having the courage to communicate to each and everyone of us – what we perceive as a risk… so that it can be assessed sensibly.

Yet TALKING to each other seems to be the most difficult safety strategy to implement.  We all just do what we are told… not wanting to rock the boat.. (remember, we all know boats!) –  If I raise a concern about someone’s behaviour – Ill become a target for being a softie.. or a whinger..  and we don’t want that – we’d rather get hurt and spend time laid up – planning an new life…

So lead by example, if you do the job right every time… everyone around you will too.   Speak up, communicate, acknowledge your own personal risk perception lack.. and don’t create habits out of bad processes.

Connect with me to see how my story can reinforce these safety strategies.. and how my bad safety attitude impacted on the safety culture at my workplace.



  • You have been given a gift as a Life Saver

    I sat through your presentation yesterday with mixed emotions those of sadness, sorrow, anger… where you can directly and indirectly impact and change the lives of many… you have been given a great gift of a Life Saver to many but at a tremendous personal sacrifice. I have asked myself what could I do for Hawk, my families, peers, colleagues and friends and came up with — Think and act safely in everything I do and ask / tell others to do the same to protect them from harm. 97.8% of our delegates said Hawk’s presentation was excellent / good.

    Rick Alcock, National Manager, Construction Oil & Gas L&H Group
  • Inspired by his words

    Yesterday both myself & Ashlea Wright were invited to attend the Shell Global Safety day at the Pinkenba terminal on behalf of G4S Secure Solutions. As part of the presentation, we were privileged to listen to Hawk Vagg and his story relating to the accident in 1998. Hawk’s powerful and heart wrenching description of the events, & the people affected by that day in 1998, left both myself & Ashlea moved & inspired by his words. Hawk’s message has had a huge impact on my approach to everyday moments in life & highlighted the need to be vigilant & remain safe wherever we are in life, be it at work or home. In conjunction with Shell’s presentation, it was an uplifting & educational approach to what remains a common goal amongst us all – a safe workplace/environment. On behalf of G4S, I would like to thank Shell for extending the invitation. I wish Hawk Vagg continued success with his presentations around the country and personally thank Hawk for raising my safety awareness to a higher level of appreciation. Good Luck Hawk. Thank you all.

    John Broughton Branch Manager QLD G4S Secure Solutions
  • The boys comment about things you made them aware of in your presentation

    Hello Hawk, better late than never, I would like to thank you for the day you spent here on site. As recently as a week ago, some of the boys comment about things you made them aware of in your presentation. The feedback has been very good and attitude to safety awareness have changed for the better. Your posters are a very good reminder for the workers, not just the workers that were there on the day, other workers have commented on them as well. I believe the effects of your visit will assist in keeping the safety awareness on the right track for some time.

    Russelll Mallett, Safety Officer Dalrymple Bay Coal Terminal Pty Ltd
  • It made a real impact on everyone

    Hi Hawk, I hope you are well. The guys are still talking about your presentation, it made a real impact on everyone. We are making a poster and just wanted to check with you if it was ok to use your “mantra” — “She’ll be right mate, But… what if I am wrong”

    Greg McCluand, Plant Manager, Iplex Pipelines Australia Pty Ltd
  • Choices and consequences

    Hawk shared his story with the Moorvale team and left everyone with a powerful message to stop and think about the choices you make and the consequences they could have on you and the people around you.

    Nicole Challen from Leighton Contractors Moorvale Mine
  • A very relevant and worthwhile experience

    I just wanted to let you know that we had great feedback for Hawk ranging from our Sub-Contractors, Business HSEQ Director and Regional Director. Thank you for assisting with the organisation of what was a very relevant and worthwhile experience.

    Laura Greene Laing O’Rourke OHS – Port Botany
  • I could see it made an impact on the lads

    I just wanted to say that I thought your speech / presentation was brilliant, it was a very hard hitting speech that I could see it made an impact on the lads. I thought it was well delivered and your detailed description of the accident really hit home. I was especially moved by the aftermath of your accident and the way it’s affected you and your life.

    Neil O’Donnell, H&S Advisor Port Botany Laing O’Rourke
  • I took away some personal reflections and timely reminders

    I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and thanks for your heart-felt and very personal presentations here for us at Toowoomba Regional Council. I have received very positive feedback from attendees at both sessions you delivered last Wednesday. Overall, I took away some personal reflections and ‘timely reminders’ to remember about some of the decisions we make in life, especially around keeping safe both personally and for those around us.

    Andy Van der Syde – Toowoomba Regional Council, Senior Organisational Development Officer
  • You are an inspiration

    Hi Hawk! Thanks so much for speaking with us today at Pacific Seeds. It made a huge impact and I’ve already had many staff members tell me how beneficial the talk was and that it really made them think. We’ve even got a worker who has now decided to call the professionals at home to do a job that her and her husband had planned to do this weekend. You are an inspiration and I look forward to seeing you in the near future for phase 2.

    Michelle Lennox, Occupational Health & Safety Office of the Toowoomba Branch of Pacific Seeds
  • Accolades and praise for Hawk Vagg’s safety presentation

    In short — bloody awesome Hawk was fantastic. He was extremely professional but also down to earth and realistic. They presented and pitched the session at exactly the right level for the audience. I am sure Hawk was able to “turn on a few lights” as I like to say. I know that some of the audience, particularly the younger workers, found it confronting initially but with Hawk’s style and honesty everyone left the room with a stronger resolve to take the actions they need to in their work fronts.

    Mike Tierney, CMC
  • Your message was very clear

    Hi Hawk, I would like to thank you for coming to our project recently to deliver your powerful safety message from your own personal experience to our BSO project employees, the message of complacency, not looking after yourself and your workmates was very clear with the outcome if you carry out an unsafe act it will change your family, friends and your life forever. The days you were here on site changed the way people looked at the safety of themselves and others and has continued since you left, your name and circumstance is often raised out in the field by the employees, at prestart and induction to site. Thanks once again and will see you again on another job.

    Regards Russell Barham | Lead EHS Specialist. Broadmeadow Sustaining Operations Project Site Address: Gate 18, Red Hill Road, PMB Moranbah QLD 474
  • I enjoyed your talk

    I enjoyed your talk and will stop and think about what you said next when going to cut corners.

    Nathan Otago

    Hi mate! or should I say LEGEND! I had a bad day yesterday dealing with stuff, Thought I had it bad! I was speechless listening to your journey! Mate you will forever be in my thoughts.

    Masey Jase
  • You could have heard a pin drop,

    Hi Hawk, I would like to thank you on behalf of Bechtel Equipment Services Gladstone for coming to our yard recently. Your presentation sent a powerful safety message to our employees from your own personal experiences. You could have heard a pin drop, the employees were so intentive. You really brought home the message of safety. We are looking forward to your next presentation.

    Bechtel Equipment Services Gladstone
  • Mate you are an insperation keep it up.,

    Hi Hawk. I felt compeled to contact you after hearing you speak to us at Commodore mine Millmerran on the 29/05/13. Mate keep telling your story if it saves one person suffering what you have gone through it will be a good outcome. Made me stop and think, Hawk i have done the same thing that you did and got away with it pure luck on my part. Mate you are an insperation keep it up.

    Regards Les Goodall