How to keep your head when everyone is losing theirs

by Matt Turner – Managing Director, Plant Assessor

Everyone who works in a dynamic workplace will appreciate the blessing that is the ability to remain calm in the midst of a crisis. For those who also work in high-risk workplaces, there is an additional dimension to the potential chaos of a dynamic workplace – the critical safety risks that need to be actively managed.

“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs … yours is the earth and everything in it” — Rudyard Kipling

We’ve all had those days, things seem to keep going wrong and emotions are heightened.  Deadlines loom and the level of panic becomes palpable. The collective workplace mindset seems to change and the temptation is to circumvent the normal decision-making process to get an outcome at any cost.

The people who shine in chaotic circumstances are the ones who don’t let the emotion or pure volume of “noise” adversely impact their clarity and composure when making critical decisions when they are most needed.

So, what is the secret of these apparently superhuman beings?  Well, some people are just great under pressure — we’ve all seen them.  

Whether it is on the sporting field, the construction site or the despatch office — they seem to have oodles of time to make a decision and they make the right one in the vast majority of circumstances.

We all need one of these in times of chaos or crisis, don’t we?  Well, don’t we?

“Definitely. And more than one,” you say.  

So, are they common, and where do we find them?  

The unfortunate answer to this question is no, they are DEFINITELY NOT COMMON, and they are almost impossible to find ‘in the wild’.

How to breed your own “cool heads”

In light of the scarcity of these superhuman beings, how can you develop this type of capability in your business? There are three crucial components in breeding your own cool heads when it comes to safety:

  1. Systemising your workplace so that critical risks are actively managed and the likelihood of crisis and need for a cool head is considerably reduced
  2. Select supervisors and other workplace leaders with a focus on their emotional control, train them in your systems and how to maintain composure in times of chaos
  3. Reduce the scope of responsive decisions available to workplace leaders as reactions to times of crisis. By this, we mean making sure Golden Rules of Safety or Fatal Risk Protocols (or whatever other jargon you use) are respected and never contravened

Adhering to these three important practices will systematically reduce the need for the elite level of superhuman skills in your workplace and ensure those in leadership positions understand the scope of their discretion and are able to exercise this discretion clearly and calmly.

This is not an overnight process; however, with the right organisational intent and effort it does work —  we have seen it in evidence in many of our clients.

How can Plant Assessor help?

Here at Plant Assessor, we know that managing plant safety is only one of the many things you need to juggle to run a successful organisation.  

Having said that, in a high-risk work environment, plant and equipment is usually one of the critical and most catastrophic risk categories requiring management.

At Plant Assessor, we put you in control of plant and equipment safety, making it both simpler to manage while making it more comprehensive and thorough.  

Having a comprehensive and reliable system that ensures plant is safe for use and accompanied by the right information is a critical component of any systemised safety management system.

For more information, please contact Plant Assessor on 1300 728 852 or via www.assessor.com.au to see how we might be able to help you systemise plant safety in your workplace.

Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information.

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