• What do Yoko Ono and Safety have in Common?

    3 January at 12:16 from atlas

    John Lennon first met Yoko Ono when visiting her exhibition at the Inca Gallery in London in 1966.

    In the now famous episode, Lennon had to climb a white ladder in the centre of a room and use a magnifying glass to read some tiny letters framed on a piece of paper affixed to the ceiling. The words spelled out not 'LOVE' as first predicted, but the word 'YES', which she believed to be the purest word of all.

    People say one of the Beatles best known hits 'Yesterday' inspired Yoko to design the exhibit and she later relabeled it 'Yes-Today' to seduce Lennon. It obviously worked as they married three years later!

    Getting to 'Yes' in safety has also proven to be an uphill battle in a world where different personalities and cultures may now require a telescope to read a person's values, beliefs and goals, before attempting to communicate with them. Because we fail to do this effectively, many of Yesterday's accidents are often repeated Tomorrow!

    John Lennon also wrote the song 'Tell Me Why', which is a question we perhaps need to ask before getting to 'Yes'

    Why are we all different, and what do we need to do in order to communicate more effectively?

    People are like onions and each layer represents a characteristic of the person, such as - needs, expectations, physical senses, attitudes, culture, personality, self concept and a person's experience so far in life.

    In order to understand people better, we need to peel them layer by layer, before we can influence them to take ownership of their own safety and that of their workmates.

    There are a number of ways to determine what makes people tick and they include: studying body language and eye movements, personality profiling, active listening, social dependency groups, the ink blot test, to name only a few.

    Once you've got a good idea of what a person is like, you can then start to engage them in safety (get them to say 'Yes') using a range of different techniques. In this article we reveal two of them.

    Mirroring Physiology

    People respond better to others that are similar to themselves, and getting people to do work safely; can be influenced by how we physically behave when talking to them.

    By mirroring and adopting the physiology of a person, we can make someone that was initially uneasy with us; feel more comfortable and more likely to engage in a conversation about health and safety. Next time you try to start up a conversation with someone, begin by mirroring small elements of their body language. If they cross their legs whilst seated cross the same leg, if they stroke their chin whilst talking, stroke your chin too.  If the person is using their hands to express an emotion, occasionally use your hands too. You can also pick out some of the positive words that the person is using and drop them into the conversation. These words could be something like exceptional, great, cool, etc. Mirroring is not copying, and the steps you take must be subtle, and not obvious to the other person, in order for it to be effective.

    Safety Advocates

    When trying to influence teams of people, the use of Safety Advocates can be an alternative method for managing hazards and improving group synergy.

    Unlike a Safety Rep, the Safety Advocate, is a role assigned to a member of a team of people on a weekly basis and everyone has to undertake the role, no matter what experience they might have. The Safety Advocate has the responsibility of being the 'voice' of safety for their team and  to have a heightened awareness of the teams' wellbeing during the week.

    The advocate is not responsible for safety, but merely a conduit to ensure consultations have taken place with co-workers about general health and safety issues and to record any hazards that have been spotted during each shift. Managers value the unique role the Safety Advocate plays, providing a pivotal link between the Supervisor and the rest of the workforce. Anyone can raise an issue through the Safety Advocate without revealing their identity, which allows people to talk freely about something, which they previously might not have felt comfortable raising themselves.

    Each week the Safety Advocate completes a one page form, which lists all the items raised and reads it out to the team for discussion at a meeting. Once the actions have been agreed, the form is then used by the Supervisor to review and update any applicable safety documentation. The incumbent then nominates a person from the team to be the Advocate for the coming week.


    Once you've cracked the 'Yes' word for engaging employees in safety, don't let up, because there's a bigger challenge around the corner, as the population gets older, less active and sicker. Why? Because when you take the 'Yes' out of safety what have you got left _ _ _  ?