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Background 

Trevor Bourne is a highly experienced Non-Executive Director having served on public and private company boards in Australia and Asia for over 17 years. He is currently a director of Virgin Australia and Sydney Water Corporation and is the Chairman of Senex Energy Ltd. He has previously served on the Boards of Caltex Australia Ltd, as well as Origin Energy where he served through the substantial growth period following the demerger from Boral.

Trevor’s Executive career has included;

· 15 years at BHP,

· 8 years with the then Orica subsidiary, Incitec,

· 15 years with Brambles and the last 6 as Managing Director of Australasia.

In addition to his senior executive experience, coupled with the strategic and people skills required to be successful at this level, he has extensive background in manufacturing, logistics, engineering and large scale project management. He has a Mechanical Engineering degree (University of NSW), an MBA, and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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3 Value Bombs


1. If you have all of your board meetings at head office, you'll get a fairly narrow view of what risk you have and how your business runs. In Australian companies these days, there's generally only a small amount of board directors who have direct industry experience with the industry of the board they're sitting on. So it's important for those directors who don't have an industry history to actually get out and visit the sites and actually see that, yes, this can be a hazardous industry, but it needs but it's not hazardous if you manage it well. These sorts of visits are really important.

2. Safety leadership starts with passion, there's a lot of things boards have to think about and delve into. If there is no passion for safety from the leadership group, then it is hard to expect it from the business. If you are in an industry where safety is really at the heart of your business, then what you have to see at board level from the chairman, and from the chairman of the safety committee, but particularly from the chief executive, is a passion for safety. 

3. At the end of the day, the thing that really counts is family. You are responsible for a group of people, large or small, you want them to come to work in one piece and you want them to go home at the end of the day in one piece and that's a pretty serious responsibility. And the bigger the workforce, the more senior you get, the more accountability you have for that. It's not just your own family, you have a family at work as well.

 

Show Notes


Getting Started

[00:00:01] Welcome to this issue of Leading Safety - Keeping Safety Real. Our goal is to stretch a safety net of connections across the world through exchange of ideas between organisational leaders. These are the people who influence what thousands of people do every day at work and even at home through the culture they define and believe that permeates through their organisations. In this podcast series, organisational leaders share their personal stories about leading and engaging people in health, safety and wellbeing. We hope that as a business leader, the podcast format will make it easy to listen and pick up some pearls of wisdom. No matter where you are in the car, in a plane, between meetings or with your leadership team, in a constantly changing global tech environment, work, health and safety is one of the many areas executives and board members have to juggle. How do they fit health, safety and wellbeing in with running a successful, complex business? How do they keep it real? Our guests will share with us how they live the values they place in the people who work for them every single day, the challenges they've faced and the super wins they've had that have provided the motivation to keep them in there. It's a personal and real conversation and we know you'll learn something along the way that will help you and hopefully you'll make some great connections as well. So, let's chat.

[00:01:22] A very warm welcome to today's guest. Trevor Bourne. Trevor is a highly experienced non-executive director, having served on public and private company boards in Australia and Asia for over 17 years. He's currently a director of Virgin Australia and Sydney Water Corporation and is the chairman of Senex Energy Ltd. He has previously served on the boards of Caltex Australia, as well as Origin Energy, where he served through the substantial growth period following the demerger from Boral. Trevor's executive career has included 15 years at BHP, eight years with the then Orica subsidiary Incitec and 15 years with Brambles with the last being as managing director of Australasia. In addition to his senior executive experience, coupled with the strategic and people skills required to be successful at this level, he has an extensive background in manufacturing, logistics, engineering and large scale project management. He has a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Newcastle and an MBA and is a fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. We are thrilled to be able to bring someone with such breadth and depth of experience to the leading safety podcast, and we know you will all learn an enormous amount from Trevor's insights. Welcome to you, Trevor. And thank you for agreeing to be a guest on our podcast today.

[00:02:37] Real pleasure Liz. Looking forward to it.

[00:02:38] Thank you. I'd like to start our chat with a brief summary of your own safety and wellbeing journey. How did you come to understand what excellent safety leadership looks like? And were there any significant events that impacted your thinking about safety along the way?

[00:02:52] That's a good question, Liz. I think I go back to my early career at BHP, which, I hate to say this, in the 60s. But in fact, at that time, BHP, this was at the steelworks in Port Kembla, which was their largest operation at that stage. They had a very good attitude to safety and it was drilled in you from the first day you started. And things that we take for granted, safety clothing, safety hats, safety boots, safety goggles that we just accept as a given now, were in fact a bit innovative then. So they were really trying very hard. But I think as I progressed and took some managerial responsibility in my early 20's, in the area that I worked over a two year period, we had actually four fatalities and three of them were engineering maintenance people and they were near the area I worked. Fortunately, I didn't have direct responsibility for those involved. It was a really frightening experience and probably made me think about my responsibilities as a manager and the accountability I have for people's lives. So I think probably those early days, that early BHP experience and those incidents really probably shaped my views on safety.

[00:03:58] That's quite an incredible experience at such probably quite a young age and in, you know, in a world where, as you say, safety wear probably wasn't considered to be as significant as it is today. Clearly, you've got enormous experience at a board level and at that level, getting safety and wellbeing governance right can be really quite difficult. What do you think are some of the core elements of getting safety governance right?

[00:04:24] I think it actually starts with passion. I think there's a lot of things boards have to think about and worry about and delve into. But if you are in an industry where safety is really at the heart of your business, then what you have to see at board level from the chairman, from the chairman of the safety committee, but particularly from the chief executive, got to see a passion for safety. And I think it really starts with that. If there is no passion for safety from the leadership group, then it will be hard to expect it from the business.


Greatest Challenges & Lessons

[00:04:55] Absolutely. It's absolutely critical, isn't it? And I've not actually ever seen an organisation be successful at improving their safety performance without that passion at that executive and non-executive level. So if we build on that a little bit, what ways have you seen the board effectively build risk management activities into the way they govern?

[00:05:17] If there's one growth in the workload of directors that's really occurred over the last ten or fifteen years it has been this approach to risk management. And if you work in the sort of industries I've worked in, oil and gas refining, then at the very top of the list in risk management is the safe operation of the plants and the businesses you run. So I think the more rigorous and diligent approach to risk management is really then heightened the safety focus. It's also governed in a lot of other areas as well. But in, if you operate in hazardous industries, then right at the top of the agenda for your risk management committees will be will be safety. It's both operational and personal safety.

[00:05:58] Yeah, sure. Has there been opportunities for the boards you've been involved with to sort of step out of the boardroom and into to the sites in terms of the way in which they connect with people?

[00:06:10] If you have all of your board meetings and head office, you'll get a fairly narrow view of what risk you have on how your business runs. I think I've used the Caltex example. We visited our refineries, we visited our overseas operations, we visit our terminals. We made site visits, often with a safety focus to get the leadership of the sites to talk about their performance. Talk about what they saw were issues and to give the board members a real feel for what is the risks of the businesses that we're involved in. Australian companies these days, there's generally only a small coterie of board directors who have direct industry experience with the industry of the board they're sitting on. You've got a couple a lot of other finance and legal on other areas. So it's important for those directors who don't have an industry history to actually get out and visit the plants and actually see that, yes, this can be a hazardous industry, but it needs but it's not hazardous if you manage it well. I think those sorts of visits are really important.

[00:07:11] Yeah, absolutely. It's really that touching and feeling. And also, that's an opportunity for you to be modelling that leadership around safety as well isn't it? What about metrics? How do you how do you use metrics at a board level and what do you see are some of the pitfalls around that metrics can have in terms of impacting the organisation?

[00:07:35] Because of my engineering mathematical bent I'm a huge believer in metrics. But and I'm a great believer that that old chestnut that you know what you don't measure, you don't manage. I think it's safety, it's an absolute must. You've got to have deep and meaningful metrics. But I think I think the emerging thing is it's got to be more than just historical data.

[00:07:57] Yes.

[00:07:58] You've got to have the right mix of leading and lagging metrics. And you've got to make certain that they're accurately put together that they're timely and that, in fact, you're using some measures that you can use for comparison purposes so that you can get a feel for really how safe is our business compared to peers who operate in this space.

[00:08:20] So some benchmarking is part of that process that's really effective.

[00:08:24] It's pretty easy in your own bubble to feel that we're doing it pretty well. In fact, it's only when you see excellent performance, you start to say yeah, maybe we're not quite as good as we think and you know, it's no great surprise that generally the most hazardous industries have the best safety performed because that's the heart and soul of your business.

[00:08:44] That's right. Obviously, this concept of leading indicators sort of emerging over time, boards have traditionally looked at lagging. Have there been any particularly good leading indicators that, from a board perspective, you have found useful?

[00:08:58] I think, encouraging employees to report near misses. It's the one thing that's easy to not report. Nothing happened. No one was hurt. Someone got a bit frightened. There was no damage that we can see. And no one was injured and we didn't have to report it to anybody. However, jeez that was really close. And I think getting encouraging people to report near misses and undertake particularly serious near misses where you should undertake the degree of analysis and critique that you would do of a serious accident gets the message through to people that near misses are just one fraction, one second, one step away from what might have even been a fatality. When you when you see that people are genuinely reporting near misses and particularly serious near misses, that's a good measure of the culture in the business. If people are if you have a fairly average lost time injury frequency rate but never have any near misses that statistically doesn't quite work for me.

[00:09:58] And that's really evidence of a learning culture isn't it? That capacity to go where have we got the opportunities to improve? That's really good. How have you gone about building safety into the way you lead? Perhaps some of the rituals and processes that you've taken on board that have helped you along the way in terms of leading safety.

[00:10:22] I think going back to the passion thing and interest, I think people look at the senior leadership of their organisation for direction and particularly in big companies. So if you want to progress in big companies, you generally say, well, I better get interested in what the boss is interested in. So if the boss is seriously interested in safety, I will get seriously interested in safety. And I think that leadership through interest, through passion, from asking the questions, to site visits, to going out where  we've had accidents and incidents go and do an inspection, that sort of thing. I think if you show no interest in safety, don't be surprised that the business safety performance is poor. So, at the very top of the organisation, if this is seen as one of the this is what we do around here. This is fundamental to what we are as an organisation. Then that filters through the organisation. I've never seen an organisation with a good safety record that didn't have passion at the top.

[00:11:18] Absolutely. Anything that you've seen around engaging people that has helped particularly?

[00:11:24] I think it's site visits. A, it's good for boards to have site visits and B, one of the things that, in companies I've been involved with, we generally ask at the beginning of the site visit; talk about your safety performance. Talk about the risks we will see today. Tell us what you manage around here that concern you. So getting the team on the ground to take you through what the risks are on this site and how we manage them.

[00:11:50] Yeah, Great. So that's that. You know, them being the experts in the field and tapping into that. Yeah, fantastic. What is or has been your biggest challenge in relation to health, safety and wellbeing and have you got about addressing that?

[00:12:05] I think I'll go back to my Brambles Dies and Brambles big listed company. When I was running it in Australia, we had 18 freestanding business units that were very self-contained and we had a degree of focus on safety, but probably inconsistent and there was no head office oversight. We had some bad incidents in Western Australia, and I was called over by one of the politicians to explain why we were such a poor performer in Western Australia and it was a bit of a shock to me because our statistics really didn't tell us much. So, we started a campaign, again back to metrics, so we got all the business units heads together and said, right, what should we measure? We did something a bit innovative. We gave the accountants the job of keeping the numbers and because the accountants and brambles were very, very thorough and very good. So we started to collect the data, really simple stuff. And sadly, in the early days, we had 12000 direct employees in Australia and about another 4000 contractors so we had 16000. But in the early days, we had problems with fatalities, which were mainly truck accidents and what have you, and lost time injury frequency rate and so we pulled those stats together but the thing that started to change the attitudes was that, in fact, we published those statistics monthly around the entire organisation and we put it together in such a form that we ranked you from one to 18, from best performance to worst performance. That had quite, in a competitive organisation when this was really public, took about 18 months. But the message got through. I don't want to be in the bottom third of this table for very long.

[00:13:44] A real Jack Welch sort of style.

[00:13:45] Yes, yes. It was well, and it worked within the Brambles culture. They didn't need to be told what to do. They simply had to be told this is now really serious. This is along with profitability on your list of important things to do. And that had a dramatic change. That business transformed over the space and now even to this day still has a very good safety record. But, it came about by getting the managers of the business units to say, look, we haven't been doing this right up to now, we're not good and we'll collect the stats and we'll do it thoroughly. And we will in fact, you can see how your business compares to the other 17 in the country. Not doing the same work, every one of them was different from armoured car businesses to waste management to the CHEP pallet business, all different, but also generally B2B service businesses and generally people intensive. So real turning point for the business.

[00:14:44] Did you see any correlation between the safety performance and the general performance? Were those that were at higher the list, did they tend to be the better performing generally?

[00:14:56] That's interesting. That is often a good measure. And I know that one of the investment banks does a report every year of the ASX 100 and their safety performance and their view, and a view I agree with, is there's a correlation between if you're a good manager, you'll manage across the spectrum and if safety is one of the things that you've managed. There's often, for an investor, it's hard to see what's the quality of the management below the few that I ever get to meet. Though in Brambles, no, the business had always been incredibly financially focused and incredibly driven for financial performance and that had been embedded in the business for a long, long time.

[00:15:37] So that was already part of the culture.

[00:15:37] So it was already part. This was just something else to focus on and they'd brought the same intensity to that issue and improved it.

[00:15:48] And which goes back to your earlier comment of what you're passionate about and what you're talking about will guide where people put their priorities.

[00:15:58] Yeah, that's true.

[00:15:58] Where do you think leaders get it wrong when leading safety? What do you see as some of the common pitfalls?

[00:16:03] I think one of things I've observed over the years is people have a belief that the policies and procedures will solve the problem. If we simply train them, put in place the policies and procedures and demand that they all follow them, then the right outcomes will occur. And there is no doubt that if your safety performance is abysmal and you haven't got policies and procedures and training, then it's about time to start. Because that's just fundamental basics, that's safety 101. But if you think that that will be the answer to and that will get you to good performance, my experiences show that won't work. It will get you to a certain level but if you want to get to excellence and for me excellence looks like zero to one and LTIFR maybe three to five in a TRIFR sort of measure. That requires a real entry in the headspace of people. This is about getting people to see at every level from the youngest apprentice right to the chief executive. And in fact, you and every day that you're at work, you're responsible for your safety and the safety of your peers and fellow workers. When you've got people pulling up their peers and say, look, it doesn't look safe to me. Then, you know, you're nearly there so I think relying on policy procedures and training absolutely must haves. But they won't give you the, If you're looking for outstanding performance, that won't get you there.

[00:17:30] That's a great answer. Back into the boardroom, what do you think are the most significant emerging issues for C-suite and boards in relation to managing health and wellbeing?

[00:17:41] I think the thing I've seen over the last four years now is a really substantial issue of mental health. We're seeing it in the community more broadly, but on at least two of the boards I'm on, we've had some issues with mental health matters and I'm seeing that in quite a number of places. And this is a new challenge for companies. We've got our heads around managing injuries that occur at work. We don't have any debate about where it occurred. It occurred at work or to or from work. And we can send you off to the doctor. He'll tell you that you knees is broken, your bones broken or you've had a laceration. So we get our heads around that and we investigate it and we say, well, we should have done this differently or that differently. The big challenge for mental health is, is, for starters, even accepting that maybe work was part of the problem. And so the first answer, when you've got an employer with mental health problems, well, it's probably due to somewhere outside, whether it's relationships or whatever it is, but it's an outside issue. And as the company, I'm not certain what I'm supposed to do about this.

[00:18:45] Now, in the aviation industry, it's a big issue because you've got to have pilots and cabin crews who are fit and capable and able to do their jobs in an emergency situation. And so more than many other industries, you want people who are fit to carry out the jobs that they're assigned to do. And it's a challenging one for both companies and it's a challenging one for society generally. And I think of all the issues that are emerging in this space, I think your bread and butter safety at work, safety management is pretty well managed in large companies, reasonably well. But this is coming from a space that companies find hard to manage. I think it's going to be, and we're seeing it in safety, workers compensation costs. So it's emerging as one of the biggest costs. So now this is going to be more than just a cost issue, but it is a significant cost.

[00:19:46] Absolutely. That's right. A person is a whole person and so what happens in their private world and what happens in their work world is all part of who they are. So it is such a complex.

[00:19:57] And I think the challenge is how much of the person's problem is due to work. It might be a small bit. It could be a very large bit. But in fact, you want the employee at work whole and capable. And so even if you're only a small bit of the problem, you may have to help fix it.

[00:20:16] A pilot is a perfect example of that isn't it? Because of the significant consequences.

[00:20:21] Yeah, the pilot situation is well recognised and in fact, following a couple of overseas incidents, pilots are now required to have an annual physical and an independent mental health appraisal every year. So that space is well managed, but again, in the aviation industry is pretty much what we have to do. This issue is emerging in other companies as well with companies where it's not quite so critical, but it will impact your business, particularly customers. You have customer facing, customer facing jobs in many business, are quite stressful. And we need to make certain that, in fact, our people are capable and in a good position to manage that.

[00:04:55] Absolutely. It's absolutely critical, isn't it? And I've not actually ever seen an organisation be successful at improving their safety performance without that passion at that executive and non-executive level. So if we build on that a little bit, what ways have you seen the board effectively build risk management activities into the way they govern?

[00:05:17] If there's one growth in the workload of directors that's really occurred over the last ten or fifteen years it has been this approach to risk management. And if you work in the sort of industries I've worked in, oil and gas refining, then at the very top of the list in risk management is the safe operation of the plants and the businesses you run. So I think the more rigorous and diligent approach to risk management is really then heightened the safety focus. It's also governed in a lot of other areas as well. But in, if you operate in hazardous industries, then right at the top of the agenda for your risk management committees will be will be safety. It's both operational and personal safety.

[00:05:58] Yeah, sure. Has there been opportunities for the boards you've been involved with to sort of step out of the boardroom and into to the sites in terms of the way in which they connect with people?

[00:06:10] If you have all of your board meetings and head office, you'll get a fairly narrow view of what risk you have on how your business runs. I think I've used the Caltex example. We visited our refineries, we visited our overseas operations, we visit our terminals. We made site visits, often with a safety focus to get the leadership of the sites to talk about their performance. Talk about what they saw were issues and to give the board members a real feel for what is the risks of the businesses that we're involved in. Australian companies these days, there's generally only a small coterie of board directors who have direct industry experience with the industry of the board they're sitting on. You've got a couple a lot of other finance and legal on other areas. So it's important for those directors who don't have an industry history to actually get out and visit the plants and actually see that, yes, this can be a hazardous industry, but it needs but it's not hazardous if you manage it well. I think those sorts of visits are really important.

[00:07:11] Yeah, absolutely. It's really that touching and feeling. And also, that's an opportunity for you to be modelling that leadership around safety as well isn't it? What about metrics? How do you how do you use metrics at a board level and what do you see are some of the pitfalls around that metrics can have in terms of impacting the organisation?

[00:07:35] Because of my engineering mathematical bent I'm a huge believer in metrics. But and I'm a great believer that that old chestnut that you know what you don't measure, you don't manage. I think it's safety, it's an absolute must. You've got to have deep and meaningful metrics. But I think I think the emerging thing is it's got to be more than just historical data.

[00:07:57] Yes.

[00:07:58] You've got to have the right mix of leading and lagging metrics. And you've got to make certain that they're accurately put together that they're timely and that, in fact, you're using some measures that you can use for comparison purposes so that you can get a feel for really how safe is our business compared to peers who operate in this space.

[00:08:20] So some benchmarking is part of that process that's really effective.

[00:08:24] It's pretty easy in your own bubble to feel that we're doing it pretty well. In fact, it's only when you see excellent performance, you start to say yeah, maybe we're not quite as good as we think and you know, it's no great surprise that generally the most hazardous industries have the best safety performed because that's the heart and soul of your business.

[00:08:44] That's right. Obviously, this concept of leading indicators sort of emerging over time, boards have traditionally looked at lagging. Have there been any particularly good leading indicators that, from a board perspective, you have found useful?

[00:08:58] I think, encouraging employees to report near misses. It's the one thing that's easy to not report. Nothing happened. No one was hurt. Someone got a bit frightened. There was no damage that we can see. And no one was injured and we didn't have to report it to anybody. However, jeez that was really close. And I think getting encouraging people to report near misses and undertake particularly serious near misses where you should undertake the degree of analysis and critique that you would do of a serious accident gets the message through to people that near misses are just one fraction, one second, one step away from what might have even been a fatality. When you when you see that people are genuinely reporting near misses and particularly serious near misses, that's a good measure of the culture in the business. If people are if you have a fairly average lost time injury frequency rate but never have any near misses that statistically doesn't quite work for me.

[00:09:58] And that's really evidence of a learning culture isn't it? That capacity to go where have we got the opportunities to improve? That's really good. How have you gone about building safety into the way you lead? Perhaps some of the rituals and processes that you've taken on board that have helped you along the way in terms of leading safety.

[00:10:22] I think going back to the passion thing and interest, I think people look at the senior leadership of their organisation for direction and particularly in big companies. So if you want to progress in big companies, you generally say, well, I better get interested in what the boss is interested in. So if the boss is seriously interested in safety, I will get seriously interested in safety. And I think that leadership through interest, through passion, from asking the questions, to site visits, to going out where  we've had accidents and incidents go and do an inspection, that sort of thing. I think if you show no interest in safety, don't be surprised that the business safety performance is poor. So, at the very top of the organisation, if this is seen as one of the this is what we do around here. This is fundamental to what we are as an organisation. Then that filters through the organisation. I've never seen an organisation with a good safety record that didn't have passion at the top.

[00:11:18] Absolutely. Anything that you've seen around engaging people that has helped particularly?

[00:11:24] I think it's site visits. A, it's good for boards to have site visits and B, one of the things that, in companies I've been involved with, we generally ask at the beginning of the site visit; talk about your safety performance. Talk about the risks we will see today. Tell us what you manage around here that concern you. So getting the team on the ground to take you through what the risks are on this site and how we manage them.

[00:11:50] Yeah, Great. So that's that. You know, them being the experts in the field and tapping into that. Yeah, fantastic. What is or has been your biggest challenge in relation to health, safety and wellbeing and have you got about addressing that?

[00:12:05] I think I'll go back to my Brambles Dies and Brambles big listed company. When I was running it in Australia, we had 18 freestanding business units that were very self-contained and we had a degree of focus on safety, but probably inconsistent and there was no head office oversight. We had some bad incidents in Western Australia, and I was called over by one of the politicians to explain why we were such a poor performer in Western Australia and it was a bit of a shock to me because our statistics really didn't tell us much. So, we started a campaign, again back to metrics, so we got all the business units heads together and said, right, what should we measure? We did something a bit innovative. We gave the accountants the job of keeping the numbers and because the accountants and brambles were very, very thorough and very good. So we started to collect the data, really simple stuff. And sadly, in the early days, we had 12000 direct employees in Australia and about another 4000 contractors so we had 16000. But in the early days, we had problems with fatalities, which were mainly truck accidents and what have you, and lost time injury frequency rate and so we pulled those stats together but the thing that started to change the attitudes was that, in fact, we published those statistics monthly around the entire organisation and we put it together in such a form that we ranked you from one to 18, from best performance to worst performance. That had quite, in a competitive organisation when this was really public, took about 18 months. But the message got through. I don't want to be in the bottom third of this table for very long.

[00:13:44] A real Jack Welch sort of style.

[00:13:45] Yes, yes. It was well, and it worked within the Brambles culture. They didn't need to be told what to do. They simply had to be told this is now really serious. This is along with profitability on your list of important things to do. And that had a dramatic change. That business transformed over the space and now even to this day still has a very good safety record. But, it came about by getting the managers of the business units to say, look, we haven't been doing this right up to now, we're not good and we'll collect the stats and we'll do it thoroughly. And we will in fact, you can see how your business compares to the other 17 in the country. Not doing the same work, every one of them was different from armoured car businesses to waste management to the CHEP pallet business, all different, but also generally B2B service businesses and generally people intensive. So real turning point for the business.

[00:14:44] Did you see any correlation between the safety performance and the general performance? Were those that were at higher the list, did they tend to be the better performing generally?

[00:14:56] That's interesting. That is often a good measure. And I know that one of the investment banks does a report every year of the ASX 100 and their safety performance and their view, and a view I agree with, is there's a correlation between if you're a good manager, you'll manage across the spectrum and if safety is one of the things that you've managed. There's often, for an investor, it's hard to see what's the quality of the management below the few that I ever get to meet. Though in Brambles, no, the business had always been incredibly financially focused and incredibly driven for financial performance and that had been embedded in the business for a long, long time.

[00:15:37] So that was already part of the culture.

[00:15:37] So it was already part. This was just something else to focus on and they'd brought the same intensity to that issue and improved it.

[00:15:48] And which goes back to your earlier comment of what you're passionate about and what you're talking about will guide where people put their priorities.

[00:15:58] Yeah, that's true.

[00:15:58] Where do you think leaders get it wrong when leading safety? What do you see as some of the common pitfalls?

[00:16:03] I think one of things I've observed over the years is people have a belief that the policies and procedures will solve the problem. If we simply train them, put in place the policies and procedures and demand that they all follow them, then the right outcomes will occur. And there is no doubt that if your safety performance is abysmal and you haven't got policies and procedures and training, then it's about time to start. Because that's just fundamental basics, that's safety 101. But if you think that that will be the answer to and that will get you to good performance, my experiences show that won't work. It will get you to a certain level but if you want to get to excellence and for me excellence looks like zero to one and LTIFR maybe three to five in a TRIFR sort of measure. That requires a real entry in the headspace of people. This is about getting people to see at every level from the youngest apprentice right to the chief executive. And in fact, you and every day that you're at work, you're responsible for your safety and the safety of your peers and fellow workers. When you've got people pulling up their peers and say, look, it doesn't look safe to me. Then, you know, you're nearly there so I think relying on policy procedures and training absolutely must haves. But they won't give you the, If you're looking for outstanding performance, that won't get you there.

[00:17:30] That's a great answer. Back into the boardroom, what do you think are the most significant emerging issues for C-suite and boards in relation to managing health and wellbeing?

[00:17:41] I think the thing I've seen over the last four years now is a really substantial issue of mental health. We're seeing it in the community more broadly, but on at least two of the boards I'm on, we've had some issues with mental health matters and I'm seeing that in quite a number of places. And this is a new challenge for companies. We've got our heads around managing injuries that occur at work. We don't have any debate about where it occurred. It occurred at work or to or from work. And we can send you off to the doctor. He'll tell you that you knees is broken, your bones broken or you've had a laceration. So we get our heads around that and we investigate it and we say, well, we should have done this differently or that differently. The big challenge for mental health is, is, for starters, even accepting that maybe work was part of the problem. And so the first answer, when you've got an employer with mental health problems, well, it's probably due to somewhere outside, whether it's relationships or whatever it is, but it's an outside issue. And as the company, I'm not certain what I'm supposed to do about this.

[00:18:45] Now, in the aviation industry, it's a big issue because you've got to have pilots and cabin crews who are fit and capable and able to do their jobs in an emergency situation. And so more than many other industries, you want people who are fit to carry out the jobs that they're assigned to do. And it's a challenging one for both companies and it's a challenging one for society generally. And I think of all the issues that are emerging in this space, I think your bread and butter safety at work, safety management is pretty well managed in large companies, reasonably well. But this is coming from a space that companies find hard to manage. I think it's going to be, and we're seeing it in safety, workers compensation costs. So it's emerging as one of the biggest costs. So now this is going to be more than just a cost issue, but it is a significant cost.

[00:19:46] Absolutely. That's right. A person is a whole person and so what happens in their private world and what happens in their work world is all part of who they are. So it is such a complex.

[00:19:57] And I think the challenge is how much of the person's problem is due to work. It might be a small bit. It could be a very large bit. But in fact, you want the employee at work whole and capable. And so even if you're only a small bit of the problem, you may have to help fix it.

[00:20:16] A pilot is a perfect example of that isn't it? Because of the significant consequences.

[00:20:21] Yeah, the pilot situation is well recognised and in fact, following a couple of overseas incidents, pilots are now required to have an annual physical and an independent mental health appraisal every year. So that space is well managed, but again, in the aviation industry is pretty much what we have to do. This issue is emerging in other companies as well with companies where it's not quite so critical, but it will impact your business, particularly customers. You have customer facing, customer facing jobs in many business, are quite stressful. And we need to make certain that, in fact, our people are capable and in a good position to manage that.


Pearls of Wisdom

[00:21:03] What would you do differently if you had your time again?

[00:21:07] This was an interesting question that I had to give a fair bit of thought to. I think I'd be a lot more measured. I'd be a lot more thoughtful before I started doing stuff in the early part of my career. You know, engineers are born to solve problems. And the general view is the quicker you solve them the better. So we'd start often on the solution without giving enough thought at the beginning to well, you know, how are we actually going about this? So, the idea that we might think through the risks of about what we're about to undertake in advance and to, you know, the risks are suddenly staring us in the face, we say, well, maybe we should have done this a little bit differently. So I think I like the idea now where people have a discussion about the risks in the job before the job starts, because that's a bit new age. We never did that. We just started. So before rushing into a job, which is probably what I would have turned 30 years ago, I probably now stop and say well okay, let us think about how we'll do this. What are the risks we're going to embark on here? And have we got them covered in advance?

[00:22:08] So building in that sort of stop and think approach.

[00:22:11] Exactly right.

[00:22:11] What advice would you give to executives and non-executive directors of the future? As to how you best demonstrate visible leadership in health, safety and wellbeing.

[00:22:23] I think Australians can see a fraud at a fierce pace. So I think only embark on this and take these roles on if you are really genuine about it. So I think really you've got to set an example and it's going to be, in Caltex we started meetings with a safety moment. I expect reports weekly, monthly to start with safety stats. And the first thing on the agenda should be, well, have we got safety issues? It's more than just looking at it from head office. I think you've actually got to go out and engage in the field and ask the people whether, about their safety performance, and whether there's more can be done. I think the other issue these days, too, is use technology. Checklists on long bits of paper, there's lots of better ways. There's a lot of good technology, a lot of good apps now to help you out in the field in every bit of your business. There's no doubt that safety can help, can benefit from good use of current technology.

[00:23:22] Trevor, I've had the pleasure of working with you over a number of years in a safety context. And I know you to be very passionate and authentic leader around safety. So I really appreciate your time today and to some of your insights. Final word from you. What does safety mean to you?

[00:23:39] As I've got more senior, I think I started to realise that really at the end of the day, the thing that really counts is family. You are responsible for a group of people, large or small, you want them to come to work in one piece and you want them to go home at the end of the day in one piece and I think that's a pretty serious responsibility. And the bigger the workforce, the more senior you get, the more accountability you have for that. So I think, and it's not just your own family, you have to have a family at work as well.

[00:24:07] So if you think about that and you think about the accountability as a leader, as a manager, as a director that you have, it's pretty much puts it in perspective, I think.

[00:24:16] Thank you so much. I really appreciate your time and insights today.

[00:24:21] A real pleasure Liz. Thank you.

[00:24:23] Thank you for listening to the leading safety podcast. This episode is brought to you by SafetyWorks Group. Leaders in workplace health, safety and wellbeing solutions. Don't forget to rate, review and subscribe. Once you subscribe, you'll receive a reminder each time we release a new episode. You can find our podcast and lots of health and safety resources on the SafetyWorks website at safetyworks.com.au.

 

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