OHS Leadership

Safety Reflections by the late George Robotham

OHS Leadership

Having survived a number of years in industry the author is acutely aware that leadership of an organisation can make or break the organisation. The importance of leadership is vastly underrated in Australian industry, leadership is the forgotten key to excellence in business. Leaders send out messages, often subtly, about what they value and expect.

Livermore(in Carter, Ulrich & Goldsmith, p46) observes “The best system or model in the world is not going to do your organisation a bit of good unless you have a top down commitment to making it work. Once mid-level management and low level employees see top executives leading the way, most of them will begin to support the initiative as well.”

The most important quality people look for and admire in a leader is personal credibility. Credibility is the foundation of leadership. If we do not believe in the messenger we will not believe the message. Leadership is about influencing people to follow, management is about maintaining systems and processes

Four critical characteristics of effective leaders(Private communication)

1 Courage (make hard decisions, stick to them)

2 Loyalty (Upwards and downwards, without hesitation)

3 Integrity (In little as well as large things, be above reproach)

4 Knowledge (Know your people, know their fears, dreams & strengths, know your mission)

Quotable quote

“The people are fashioned according to the example of their king and edicts are less powerful than the life (example) of the king”

Claudian, c. 365,Egyptian epic poet

How to be a safety leader

The author is grateful to Dave Cowley of HP Hood LLC, Chelsea , MA 02150 (October 2000)for sharing the company tip card.

Five tips on how to be a Safety Leader

1 Walk the Talk-Visibly demonstrate safety by your actions, practice what you preach, wear proper protective equipment, employees look to you for example

2 Give Recognition-When you see an employee doing a job safely praise them for it, reward safety every chance you get

3 Report All Incidents-Report all incidents no matter how slight, emphasise it is vital to be on the look-out for near-misses, minor mishaps and close calls instead of waiting for an actual injury to occur

4 Follow-Up-If a safety concern has been raised, always perform follow-up and provide feed-back to the employee

5Ask Questions-Are employees using equipment that has been inspected(hand tools, forklifts, motor vehicles etc.)


Carter, L., Ulrich, D., Goldsmith, M., 2005,Best Practices in Leadership Development and Organization Change ,John Wiley & Sons ,San Francisco

Claudian,365,Egyptian epic poet, exact source unknown

Private Communication-Jan, 2007, D.Sayers, D.Sayers & Associates , Canada, Re Canada’s Ex-Chief of Defence Staff, General Dextraze, J.A.


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