Ep 13. Health & Safety Lawyer Graham Dent and his LinkedIn Power group

Brendan: welcome to Episode 13 of the Health and Safety Business Podcast. I’m Brendan Torazzi, director of OHS.com.au Australia’s fist online training marketplace. Today I’m joined with Graham Dent. Hi Graham.

Graham: how are you Brendan?

Brendan: I’m well thanks. Thanks very much for coming on the show. Tell me a little bit about what you do Graham.

Graham: I’m a sole practitioner. My practice is called Dent Consulting and Legal. I focus solely on workplace health and safety law. I also run an online group on LinkedIn focusing on work health safety law.

Brendan: how long have you been a, do they call it a lawyer or solicitor in Australia or it’s the funny things?

Graham: lawyer covers both. It’s fine.

Brendan: how long have you been a lawyer for?

Graham: 37 years.

Brendan: always in health and safety?

Graham: my first brush with health and safety back in about 1982 where I worked for the then Department of Labor and Industry which is the forerunners of Work Safe. I was there for a few years doing prosecutions and got my hands in the area ever since.

Brendan: what was the legislation back in the early eighties to manage health and safety or was it more employment law?

Graham: it was called Labour and Industry Act. It’s final descriptive and currently so there are very specific requirements about machine guarding and proper shoes rather than narrow codes of practice and general requirements and regulations about the home hierarchy of controls but the fines are so low in those days that it really was just an expense of doing business. We’ve all had a great record in prosecution and in many instances the defense didn’t even turn up. That is how lightly it was treated. The big companies would turn up primarily to defend their reputation rather than worry about the fine. They would spend more defending it than the fine.

Brendan: do you think that working back in those times is it more dangerous or was it just different? I guess what I’m trying to get to is has the new legislation actually made workplaces safer?

Graham: I think there is a number of acts in Victoria since then. I think there are three pieces of legislation or maybe two 1985 and 2004. They’ve come a long way since then in terms of the guidance offered both in duty and also there are all the regulations in terms of practice. I think it also meant that people can no longer try to turn up all industries across the business. There’s a lot of change in that regard. I think that has affected by reduction in injuries and also increased rate of prosecutions and return and the fines.

Brendan: walk us through in the early days you worked as a prosecutor and where did you go after then?

Graham: after that I went to the Industry of Consumer Affairs where I was again in the regulatory role prosecuting kind of Consumer Affairs Legislation and Managing Licensing and Standards. From there I went to one of Australia’s largest law firms Mallesons Stephen Jaques. They’re now called King & Wood Mallesons. I was there because of my background with occupation health and safety I had a predominant role in the health safety practice. I also did some environmental role again from the regulatory side which was prosecutions. From there I opened my own business called SHE Law Solutions, Safe Healthy Environmental Law Solutions. I practiced after six years again in health safety until I was headhunted to another firm. I spent six years there while creating Managing Partner in the Melbourne office. Then the last two years I’ve been running my own business again.

Brendan: running your own business is it just yourself or do you have staff helping out?

Graham: no, just myself. Working with consultants is required from time to time to give you more flexibility.

Brendan: you get to pick and choose what work you want to take on.

Graham: I don’t like turning work back. Sometimes you’re working very long hours and you look forward to a patch where the work drops off a bit.

Brendan: the type of clients coming on now do they tend to, you don’t have to name names but the range of the types of industries that you’re representing.

Graham: I represented in the past 10 years to the present I’ve done everything from large telecommunication companies, one of the big four banks. I helped them through their whole process of leading after the harmonized legislation. I’m trying to think now. I’ve acted for any small to medium businesses being prosecuted and getting some larger businesses but a lot of training. Worked for an engineering company on a national basis and handling their training, advice and also running a career of inquest for them. Government research organizations again doing career inquest for them. There’s been a diversity both from the size of businesses, government sector, private enterprise and size of business in terms of small, medium and large.

Brendan: your early career was you did a lot of prosecution. Do you do defending now as well?

Graham: yes. I’ve done a lot of training. I still do the occasional seminar but it’s an area for the small to medium business most of their response to health and safety laws is reactive when something goes wrong. There is still a bit of training and boards in terms of the office of the due diligence officer obligations. Most of the work is in response to Work Safe actions for an incident. The prosecutions and enforceable undertakings tend to be the main staff that I work to command.

Brendan: if a company overlook something, they get an enforceable action against them and then you work with those companies to rectify those situations?

Graham: they’ll get notice a notice served on them to improve works or to stop works. The prosecution will face charges. In the case I’ll manage the defense make a liaison Work Safe. Sometimes people are asked to appear in court to defend them as well on the plea and litigation of the penalty. In some cases we make the criteria to apply to Work Safe for an enforceable undertaking which is effectively a contract between my client and Work Safe. My client deposit a certain amount of money performing certain works which Work Safe consider to be a benefit to health and safety or the project interest.

Brendan: what happens with, I’d recently in the last couple of years in AlertForce with training, came across a customer that had an enforceable undertaking against them. It was to do some training but they never did anything about it. I’m not going to name names but it was a very big company. What sort of powers do the regulators actually have to follow through?

Graham: that must be one that slipped through the cracks because certainly now they’ve got stringent reporting requirements. To the client one where they have to report monthly on progress to Work Safe in terms of key milestones that is agreed. They have to keep all the receipts, all evidence of contribution in kind in terms of the hours the people have contributed to the work within the business. If a person fails to meet the requirement within schedule then they could be prosecuted for breaching it. It’s much more seriously monitored. They are harder to get, the value the Work Safe before you sign and the public interest higher criteria. They used to accept some undertakings where effectively they’re only asking businesses to do what the law required them to do already. They’ve gone way beyond it now. They expect something more than above it.

Brendan: training must be one part of an imposable undertaking. What are some of the other things that companies need to do?

Graham: one of the ones that I’m doing at the moment is where the client, there was a dust explosion during a welding operation. Dust explosions are not go well understood by the industry and certainly came as a surprise to my client. Part of the process there is that apart from internal training and things like safe work statements which are required for the work that I was taking in this case. They are also are developing in conjunction with one of the tech holders a program for the various engineering courses in welding. It goes through three of the units of competency right through to the Diplomas. That would be a unit that would be incorporated into the training program for the processes and others.

At the other end of the scale there is a range for Weldings Industries of Australia or Weld Australia, publish into that, advertise it throughout the industry more broadly and also within the support to publicized it within the sector. I supposed it’s the bottom level, the middle level and the top level.

Brendan: it sounds like even though it sounds quite serious if you’re a business and you get one of these you could actually turn it around and make it an advantage for your organization if you look at it as a learning piece for the business property.

Graham: that is right. It also avoids a prosecution conviction which is important for some companies because it can affect any arrangements either with government or in the private sector where increasingly companies are requirement people to demonstrate their health safety competence as part of retaining a contract and the conviction is a bad mark against you and sometimes can lead to not getting a job.

Brendan: all these enforceable undertakings that has been published on the regulators website when they…

Graham: yes. In each jurisdiction they’re published and gives full copies of them. They’re downloadable from the websites.

Brendan: it’s like public knowledge once that happens.

Graham: yes. In Victoria it will be in the prosecution and enforceable undertaking section on their website. You’ll get the full list of all the prosecutions that they are undertaking. The section that the prosecution is under defines if it’s closed and also the enforceable undertakings are pressed firmly with downloadable copy, PDFs of the whole document is agreed and signed.

Brendan: I wanted to turn now to your LinkedIn Group because you’ve done an amazing job at creating a meeting place for people interested in work health and safety. Tell me a little bit about how that started and what it’s become?

Graham: it started about seven years ago when I worked for one of the big four banks on helping them transition into the work health safety laws naturally. It was just one of those spur of the moment things. I was walking at the steps after a meeting with a client. I thought gee, I could start a group because of a lot of ignorance at the time and there’s a lot of development in terms of discussion papers, draft codes of practice, regulatory impact statements, a whole range of issues that were going on. It was very hard for people to keep on top of them what was happening in each jurisdiction.

Brendan: just to give me a timeframe this would be just when the model Act, Work Health and Safety Act was kind of draft…

Graham: early 2011 when there was a lot of finalization of legislation going on and talk about implementation and still discussions for example whether Victoria would be involved. Victoria was heavily involved in developing codes of practice and right up to recently when they just pulled out and dropped any involvement with any of the processes including codes of practice which other jurisdictions within Australia even those that hasn’t become the model laws yet still work within the codes of practice. There is a lot of disharmony around the country and stated times and different states coming into the model laws. Some of the changes were in the detail in some intervals that companies want to make sure that they were on top of what the changes were and also things like Office of Due Diligence requirements. There’s a lot of information going on, a lot of junk going on and I thought I could bring it together into one group which I named Work Health Safety Harmonization Group. It grew from small beginnings to be now the largest LinkedIn Group for health safety in Australia.

Brendan: how many members do you have now?

Graham: just under 18,000 members and a couple of thousand followers.

Brendan: that is amazing. Is it mainly, what make up would be Australian members?

Graham: there is over 50 nations involved. The LinkedIn program used to give you better steps and breakdowns. They stopped doing that. They changed a number of functions which used to be of great value but the portion now would be health safety managers, health safety consultants, managers with responsibilities for health safety or managers generally as directors who are concerned about their position, health safety representatives, trading representatives. It’s a very broad cross section of the community in relation to health safety. There’s also reps in every regulator in Australia. The fact that we’re Australian will have opportunities in it. In the early days Safe Work Australia were using it for media announcements, some changes and developments with the model laws.

Brendan: it sounds like it’s a great central meeting place for people to share information.

Graham: yes.

Brendan: hopefully it will solve some issues.

Graham: yes. For those who aren’t familiar thinking it’s all three. There’s certainly many discussions arising there. They cover a broad range of issues and I’ve encouraged people to no question is a stupid question. For those who feel embarrassed about we have a process that they can email with the question and I’ll post it in the so that they can still get feedback and answers. With such a broad diversity of people in the group. The answer is very obviously quite often very helpful.

Brendan: is it taking a lot of time to manage that group or is that something managing that simple?

Graham: it takes time to manage because a lot of people like to spam in it or post a business or forthcoming conferences and I tend to delete those. Conferences which as free but needing commercial or it’s posted by a business which doesn’t add value to the group. It can be a promotion but as long as it adds value. It’s some information and adds value and people sign off on it with their business name or their survives that is fine. Sometimes it’s just a blatant advertisement.

Brendan: if it adds value to the community then it’s welcome but if it’s just about making money or promoting some kind of event it’s probably good to go on the promotions tab.

Graham: the promotions tab was removed by LinkedIn.

Brendan: it shows you how up to date I am.

Graham: there’s just a lot of promotions and spam coming in to the discussions thread which is why there’s a bit of work in administering plus also I post a lot of material myself.

Brendan: why do you think or do you think Australia kind of leads the way with health and safety legislation and managing health and safety in the workplaces or is there some other country around the world that has done a better job?

Graham: I think a lot of people look to England or the UK as an example. They were very strong framework. It’s still based on the same principles as the Australian legislation. In fact Australia copied the approach, Robens Principles it was called. Practicability from the UK. The UK has gone ahead in areas like industrial or corporate managed order and not just the concept but the way they impose penalties. It’s not just a set fine under the act but it could be based on the proportion or percentage of the company’s gross turnover. When you’ve got companies that are worth $100 billion as we have a lot of mining companies in Australia and they’re worth more. The maximum fine may not be much more than a footnote in their annual report. We need to base it on a percentage of their gross turnover. It becomes a much more serious matter for them.

Brendan: a 100%. You want to make sure you’re managing your health and safety correctly.

Graham: Australia has got a good reputation. New Zealand has followed our model. I think England still has a lot for us to learn from.

Brendan: we’re going to wrap up the interview now. I’ve just got a few short questions to ask you to wrap. First of all can I ask how old you are?

Graham: 62.

Brendan: what do you like to do to keep fit?

Graham: I do triathlons, the longer ones and I do in the fundraising events. AlertForce through you have assisted in it through selling some training courses online or auctioning them. Through the group I’ve managed to raise about $30,000 in a series of triathlons. It’s a very welcome incentive by training and raising funds.

Brendan: yes and doing it for a charitable cause. That is fantastic.

Graham: I’ve also got 12 year old twins I keep forgetting.

Brendan: it also keeps you on your toes as well. You said you work long hours. How many hours of sleep do you get on average per night?

Graham: I try to get seven. I used to get a lot less but I’ve been told I need to meet my minimum seven now this week and I do feel a lot better and more productive when I get it. I don’t burn the candle anymore because I’m not young anymore. Doing things like that which I used to do. Really seven hours of sleep.

Brendan: do you have any personal goals that you’re looking to achieve in the next 12 months?

Graham: business wise or personally?

Brendan: personal goals and then the next question I’m going to ask you about what business achievement you’d like to be most remembered for?

Graham: personally I’d like to get back to another Iron Man. I’ve had some injuries. I haven’t done an Iron Man Triathlon for a couple of years now. I’ve put in a bit of weight I need to lose my weight and get back into that. That is my short term, it doesn’t take a couple of years to do that goal.

Brendan: then the business achievement you’d like to be most remembered for?

Graham: it’s hard to say what I’d like to be most remembered for. I always wanted to write a book but I don’t think that will happen in terms of time constraints. I just like to be remembered for someone who is pragmatic, commercially focused and get the right solution for clients which sometimes is a plea of guilty with litigation as a penalty, sometimes an undertaking, sometimes it’s a successful defense and developing a relationship with clients which unfortunately for clients sometimes means repeat business. Most of them don’t want to see me again after never but we maintain basics.

Brendan: if people want to find out a little bit more about your Graham what is your website?

Graham: DentCL.com.

Brendan: AuAssist.com.

Graham: that is right.

Brendan: all right Graham, thanks very much for coming on the show today.

Graham: okay, good to speak to you.

Brendan: remember if you’ve been enjoying the podcast don’t forget to leave us a review and subscribe. See you next time.

Ep 12: Fatigue Management expert Dr Adam Fletcher explains industry trends

Brendan: Welcome to Episode 12 of The Australian Health and Safety Podcast. I’m Brendan Torazzi, the host of the show and also the director of OHS.com.au Australia’s first health and safety training marketplace. Today I’m joined by Adam Fletcher from Integrated Safety Support. Good day Adam.

Adam: Good day Brendan.

Brendan: How are we on this beautiful afternoon? I’m not sure what it’s like in Melbourne but Sydney is having a sunny day for the first time in weeks.

Adam: It’s absolutely beautiful here. I have thankfully had just work to do from the office. I’m in shorts and T-shirt. It’s delightful.

Brendan: Tell me a little bit about Integrated Safety Support and what do you guys do?

Adam: Integrated Safety Support really was born when I returned from the United States in 2006. I’ve been working as a research volunteer for the US Army in Washington DC specifically looking at sleep and fatigue issues for the US Army. I realize I really wanted to move out of full time research and into solving challenges and problems related to fatigue and workplace performance and safety in government and industry organization. I founded the company and we have really tried nearly 13 years now on very fatigue related issues. It’s very clear from the workers and the long term clients that we have built up but we really have been able to establish a really valuable nation and thankfully get to do really valuable and interesting work all over the world mainly related to too much fatigue and keeping people alert and safe and productive in 24 hour work environments.

Brendan: I’m curious about the US Military, do they sleep starve their people? Could you often that their military could learn to survive in very little sleep? Is that the case or do they encourage sleep?

Adam: I think it’s something a number of people don’t fully understand or perhaps clear a few myths about. My people when they’re going through their training, certainly basic training and a lot of specialists training they do have a lot of short to medium term sleep deprivation periods so that you can learn what happens to you personally when you’re put under a period where you’re not getting enough sleep but more often than not in operational environments or operational theater they generally do try and optimize the sleep that people are getting unless it’s generally unsafe for people to stop. People think that the military are taking stimulants and other substances to stay awake all the time. Generally they’re only doing that if it’s not safe for people to stop. They usually rather people sleep and maintain high levels of performance.

Brendan: Of course the military is a lot more than just I had envisage on the cold face actually in some kind of war or something like that but there are lots of parts of the military obviously.

Adam: I think there is a much better understanding, I think even in the last four or five years, I think a much better understanding that optimum performance is much more than staying proficiently awake and having your eyes open and breathing. I think there is much better understanding of the nuances of situational awareness and other subtle executive performance capabilities and sleep is clearly a major foundation for that. That is understood more so now than it was four or five years ago.

Brendan: When I met you probably 12 or 13 years ago when we first brought the sleep pods to Australia. We soon discovered that Australia kind of led the world in sleep science. Why do you think that is the case? We’re such a small country in relation to the rest of the world at least in population size? Why do you think that Australia has been up there?

Adam: We definitely do punch above our weight. There is no question about that. There’s a lot of very high caliber sleep scientists and people in Australia and New Zealand as well actually. I don’t really know the answer to that question. There’s certainly a lot of links to sleep in modern times in the US. The very discovery of REM sleep in Stanford University in the fifties and then really the sort of expanding view of managing shift work and sleeping in 24 hour work environments started simultaneously in the US and Europe in the late seventies, early eighties but you’re right. In the nineties and 2000’s and beyond there is definitely a big concentration of people who are respected and considered experts in sleep and fatigue related areas in Australia. I don’t really know why. Perhaps there are some cultural elements. Perhaps there’s other explanation but I’ve been around this field for more than 25 years and I don’t have a really clear answer for that.

Brendan: You think like you being Australian, running an Australian business that works with fatigue management and the human factors do you think that helps you when you’re doing work overseas?

Adam: I think most places in the world do still really love Australians. We are generally liked in most places around the world.

Brendan: Because we live so far away. They’re not neighbors really.

Adam: Maybe we’re just a distant novelty usually. I definitely think people are interested in spending time with Australians and I also generally think and I don’t know whether this is just because of our multi-cultural heritage or what it might be but one of the pieces of feedback my team and I get a lot from clients around the world is we tend to be very respectful and aware of cultural and other factors. Obviously sleep and fatigue issues are certainly hardwired into us as humans in many ways but there is obviously lots of cultural and local factors that can influence people’s choices to sleep or not to sleep and things like that. A lot of feedback that we get is that we’re very aware and factor in a lot of those very local cultural and other factors. There seem to be something about our ability to consider those things and not just trying forth our solution on people. That seems to be very appreciated as well. I think that is a factor.

Brendan: Integrated Safety Support, developing technologies to help manage sleep or how do you fit as far as that goes moving forward?

Adam: We’re certainly not going to be developing any hardware, monitoring devices via a wrist worn sleep monitors or cameras mounted on a dashboard or a cockpit. Those technology solutions are definitely for others. We’re building a lot more software based solutions so we create integrations of fatigue, modelling software into existing scheduling systems and things like that. Earlier this year we have released our first app which is a free app available on the Apple and Android app store called FatigueSafe. That is a one minute personal self-assessment for fatigue. Certainly we’ve got a lot of data analytics capabilities. We’re building a lot of software app and analysis type solutions but not so much in the hardware space.

Brendan: It’s more around the I guess when you can sell to clients it’s more analyzing the data they’re collecting around sleep and management. Would that be a…

Adam: That is a lot of it and certainly an increasing proportion of what we’re focusing on. We still do some more traditional consulting in the sense that we might review fatigue related policies and procedures. We might carry out risk assessments for a particular business or operational site. It’s that kind of classic, safety, management consulting but certainly increasingly clients are looking for more technology driven solutions algorithms, streamline analysis or reporting capability and things like that. We certainly will be able to do that.

Brendan: I’m seeing like a trend across so many industries where data and data analytics is really where the world is moving and we’ve got so much data that you’ve got to be able to analyze it and work out what that actually means.

Adam: I think the majority of organizations now do have huge volumes of data. What we discovered with our clients is they generally still very much data streams in silos but they’ll be a silo of safety related information that is separate from the silo of human resources information which will include over time and absenteeism, sick leave and things like that. That would be separate to industrial things. The data analytics methods that we deploy quite a lot we’re really starting to look across all these different data sets. Also scrapping in other external data sets like weather information or public holiday calendars and things like that and actually starting to see where the patterns existed in previously separate streams of data. They’re getting a lot of very deep insights. I mean in some cases very unexpected insights in a lot of those things. It’s something that we’ve had a lot of success in the last few years. It’s definitely an area that is exploding quite quickly.

Brendan: What percentage would you say of your practice would be overseas related work versus local work? Percentage basis, is it 80% local and 20% overseas?

Adam: In the last couple of years we’ve been nearly 50% international each year. Where that work has been has differed and actually over the last 10 years has differed from year to year quite a bit. In the last year we’ve done work in Columbia, Brazil, US, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, India, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, UK. That is probably the main countries but yes, probably about 50% the last few years.

Brendan: I’ve got to ask you have you tapped into the government research grants.

Adam: Not actually. When I was an academic full time that was certainly a case of funding and credibility. I do hold an adjunct professor role at the University of South Australia and working some research projects particularly supporting early career researches. To be honest it’s actually easier to get money from industry and also government agencies directly rather than through the research channels. As long as you’re actually going to deliver and provide the value that your promise which we do we tend to have a lot of quite big government contracts that do roll on year on year out. They’re asking for things that promising them and delivering them and they keep finding things for us to do. The research funds is not really something that we’re trying to tap into too much these days.

Brendan: I think I was more thinking around the Export Marketing Development Grants given that you spend so much time overseas.

Adam: We certainly have used the Export Marketing Development Grant and also the R and D program as well. Certainly we’re not just doing straight fee for service consulting. We do develop and innovate quite a lot. That often then adds to costs within my business to try and develop things that we believe are going to be of value before we test them and evolve them. We definitely do work with those programs.

Brendan: Are there some major trends in what industry is using your services? Aviation obviously is one and you mentioned the military.

Adam: It does change a bit for the geopolitical situation in the world I’ve observed. There is no question that Aviation has been a core focus of ours really ever since the beginning. Sleep and fatigue management is definitely quite strong in aviation globally. Before the GFC we were seeing a really big upturn in activity and focus in the oil and gas and mining industries. That really fell off a cliff in a really major way when the GFC started fighting. Then other industries that you think it would be really relevant all that trucking and logistics and things like that. They’re generally quite low margin businesses in the first. Our observation is they don’t tend to get into things unless they’re required to by the regulator. We certainly do work in those areas. It tends to be a relatively low proportion. For our business at least a lot of it is aviation, aerospace, government agencies which could include emergency services be it ambulance, paramedics, fire and things like that, hospitals but also then a spattering of mining, oil and gas, logistics and things like that.

Brendan: Would I be right to assume most of your work is won by word of mouth like a referral?

Adam: Mainly. We’ve been around 12 to 13 years. The majority of our work now is repeat clients and word of mouth. Also when clients change companies or change roles they sometimes inherit a bit of a basket case and bring us to try to clean up what they have inherited. That is where most of our work comes from.

Brendan: The other thing that I wanted to ask you was sort of can you give us an example where there has been a real ROI on like the before you guys come in and advising some changes to be made versus then you go in and implement some changes to some, I guess grab some low hanging fruit to make some wins and give us some example of something like that. I’m putting you a little bit on the spot there.

Adam: That is okay. We don’t get to publish specific details of specific clients that often because most of our clients are in competitive areas but I can definitely give you some general examples. One example that springs to mind is for an aviation company that we’re working for who has some very rich data and with our support has some very great data analytics capability. We actually worked out the analysis that were legal in terms of what they could operate with flight and duty times were probably not that great from a safety point of view, at the edges of the limit. Then there were other rules that they have been constrained by that were nowhere near the areas where safety would be affected. We were able to collect a lot of data that really built a safety case based on their own evidence, their own data that actually indicated that we thought it would be safer to use a different rule set to the one that they were currently needing to work to.

We were given a pilot approval and ultimately a longer standing approval to actually have a dispensation from the normal regulation which gave the company a great deal more flexibility but really at no loss from a safety point of view. Probably the lining on that story too was that they had much higher retention rates for staff and significantly lower sick leave rates as well which obviously have a very genuine cash improvement for that business. We’ve seen similar results in terms of reducing absenteeism in other projects that we’ve done in a variety of industries certainly in trucking, certainly in rail as well and even in emergency services situations. If you can be reducing absenteeism and staff turnover it’s a very clear metric. It’s definitely very measurable from a dollar point of view but it’s also clearly indicating that people are happier and healthier. From our point of view that is a very meaningful metric to be able to track.

Brendan: I guess when you get wins like that it make it a lot easier to they’ll be screaming for you to come back to do some more cool stuff like that.

Adam: At a point in time it does tend to become fairly self-funding which obviously helps a lot when you’re trying to develop new initiatives. If you can go to your executives and say, look we’ve got evidence that we’ve saved $77,000 in this business in the last six months. What we’d like is your permission to spend $30,000 on this other initiative which we think is going to save us $100,000 a year and we’re going to measure to see if we’re going to do that or not. It does make the case a lot easier to get over the line.

Brendan: You’ve got a conference I understand coming up. Tell us a little bit what you’re doing and what’s it called and how people can register.

Adam: We’ve had a lot of inquiries particularly from around the Asia Pacific Region for us to have an APAC event specifically focusing on fatigue management and human factors within industry. On March 12 to 14, 2019 we’re hosting a three day event at Suntec Convention Center in Singapore. The first day will be a seminar format and the following two days, days two and three will be a hands on workshop to be able to build or improve a fatigue management system. We’ve got some great speakers concerned. We’ve got people coming from NASA, from Boeing. We’ve got international academics participating, myself and my team obviously. Certainly people can go to my website and see the banner for that and click on that. Our website is IntegratedSafety.com.au. I’m sure you can probably put that in the notes for this episode as well.

Brendan: Yes, for sure. We’re going to wrap up now Adam. For a guy who is involved in sleep how much sleep do you get each night?

Adam: I definitely give a bigger priority than I did in the past. Usually now I spend eight hours in bed. That usually translates into somewhere around seven and a half hours of sleep per day give or take. That definitely keeps me at my best.

Brendan: How old are you?

Adam: I am 43 about to turn 44.

Brendan: What do you do to keep fit?

Adam: I used to do lots of exercise. I worked out over the years that really I don’t need to do as much as I thought that I needed to do. I’m reasonably fit and healthy but I tend to stick to doing one yoga session a week, one weight session a week, pretty heavy but safe weights and generally just one high interval cardio session a week. I find if I can do one of those each a week I stay pretty fit and well.

Brendan: Over the next 12 months what personal goal would you like to achieve?

Adam: I’ve got a three and a half year old daughter. Next year is her last year before she starts school. My real personal goal is actually to just keep a very solid balance between contributing and getting value from the work that we do in the business but also being around as much as I possibly can to be spending time with her and just enjoying that very special, last, little window before she starts 12 years of school.

Brendan: Then finally what business achievement would you like to be most remembered for? This is always a bit of a tricky one for people particularly when I put them on the spot.

Adam: I’ve always been driven personally and professionally by really trying to support humans to be healthy and safe and contribute valuably in their work but if I sort of extend it out into the future what I really like to be remembered by is to be the guy or one of the people who really was able to quantify meaningfully why looking after people in terms of good rosters and work patterns and supporting good sleep behaviors, things like that. I really would love to be remembered as one of the people who demonstrate quantitatively why that is good for not only safety but also just business in general and also profit in the bottomline. We’re certainly able to do that now and I don’t even think a few years ago we’re able to do that in a very clear way but now we certainly can.

Brendan: Thanks very much for coming on the show. If you want to learn more about Adam it’s IntegratedSafety.com.au. If you’re enjoying the show please remember to subscribe and leave us a review.

Healthstyle’s Manfred Wolscher talks about the importance of wellbeing

Brendan: welcome to Episode 11 of the Health and Safety Business Podcast. I’m Brendan Torazzi, the director of OHS.com.au and also your host of the show. Today, I’m here with Manfred Wolscher from HealthStyle. Good day, Manfred. How’s it going?

Manfred: really well. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Brendan: it’s great to have you on the show. Tell me a little bit about what HealthStyle does?

Manfred: we’re a workplace health provider helping and assisting companies around the country to achieve better health for the people or in other words help them to thrive in their lives.

Brendan: so it’s a wellbeing company?

Manfred: it’s a wellbeing, workplace heart. What incorporates that we help organizations in devising their wellbeing strategy first and foremost. We’ve got a whole range of health improvement programs. They range from health checks, health education, we do e-learning programs as well as healthy media.

Brendan: wellbeing a few years ago is a bit of a dirty word. Has that changed over the last, how has the industry changed? I was a little bit involved in the sort of the mid-forties with wellbeing and it was a really tough product to sell. How has it changed over the last 10 to 15 years?

Manfred: it’s a good question. I don’t think it has changed a lot in terms of selling prevention. It is still very difficult although where we look at the safety where you come from is they’re certainly a development and a move in the right direction. Thinking about 20 years back where manual handling was a dirty word and now it’s just part and parcel of business as usual basically. Safety is integrated. Everybody understands it and compliance is good yet we have got a bit coming back to that wellbeing is a bit of disconnect here between safety and wellbeing. What people understand about wellbeing is perhaps not how we try to educate people. It’s an interesting thing. Wellbeing, everybody thrives with wellbeing aren’t, for wellbeing, feeling good, feeling energetic, feeling mentally like positive and so forth but wellbeing is a much broader, much more global sort of expression. It’s interesting.

Brendan: does that mean when you’re going to see clients you don’t use the wellbeing word? What is the trigger for, tell me about a typical client and why they would jump on and embrace your program. What are the trigger points?

Manfred: the trigger points initially is that companies ask themselves why do we want to have a healthier workforce basically. The why is critical. Often it’s not the case because companies, management or the board and saying like yes, we need to do something because company X ask something. We look good and tick the box yet I think when it comes down to really working out where they want to go, how does it align with the business objectives then it becomes interesting. Wellbeing, they go like we just thought we do mental health, look at employment assistant program. That is not really what they need at the end of the day. That is when we come into play and assist them, better understand where they see themselves in five years, 10 years’ time.

Brendan: how do companies typically dip their toe in the water so to speak? What would be a typical program for a company that has nothing? Where could they start? What are some easy wins?

Manfred: I think the first one would be identifying the why as I have just indicated before. That is important. It might be just that they go you know what? We need to reduce our workers compensation claims. That could be one. Another one could be general absenteeism costs are just too high. How do we reduce that? Looking at those objectives where to start is creating a health risk profile for the organization. That is what we like to see first stop. There is no guess work. What is going on? How healthy is our workforce? How well is our environment playing a role in supporting our workforce? What is in terms from the organizational risk what are the guidelines to allow people to live healthier lives? Coming back again a health risk profile would be the first step.

Brendan: that therefore creates a baseline for an organization and then at a latter point you’re able to go back in and measure again to see what differences the program has made.

Manfred: initially it might be a health risk profile. You can combine it to go like you know what? We provide health assessments for our people, health checks. They create a baseline profile itself. Maybe we do the same thing in a year’s time. In the meantime we’re looking at the data and may identify issues around mental health, issues around people just not move enough, issues around leadership. It does not have to be always directly related to just wellbeing but at the end it is isn’t it.

Brendan: I would imagine when you’re first going into some organizations there may be a degree of skepticism from I don’t know, from workers or maybe management or what are the types of things, what are the easy wins that you have to do first up to get I guess the call phase on board because I would imagine you need participation. When you have participation and then…

Manfred: I think that divides from our competitors. We always aim for high participation. How to achieve that? There’s a number of things we’re trying to get right. It’s not always working for a number of reasons but the first process when we engage with an organization is the access process, to looking at organizational risks, to look at capability of the organization, very important. That is that everybody is onboard from management to the supervisors, to the HR department as well as WHS and so forth. Another one is the environment. We’re looking at the environment. What sort of role does the environment play allowing a wellbeing program to flourish, to be successful? These are important parts and then the next one is the planning phase. We’re looking at the same things again and how we can assist to build better procedures and guidelines around the organizational guidelines. We look at health and to build capabilities, internal capabilities. Our biggest goal for a company’s system in the long run is to build internal capabilities so down the track, in the five years’ time know what they’re doing. That is the objective and that has proven with companies as Mars Australia. They know what they’re doing. We still assist them. We still come up with ideas because it’s an ongoing integrated process.

The next phase will be then helping the organization to collect some data, to get some idea where everything stands, where the workforce sits. We tried to leveraged up those points of influence which is the organizational part, which is the environment part but also the personal. If we get all those three avenues of influence correct, the program sets itself up to be very successful. Of course then you roll out, you implement the programs in the next stage. As ongoing stages evaluation, we evaluate the program’s feedback for a number of reasons. For looking at their return of investment situation so build a case study to have further programs implemented in the near future.

Brendan: how long has HealthStyle been going for?

Manfred: we founded HealthStyle in the end of 2012. We’re a relatively young company. Coming back in particular Andrew Pitkin who pretty much is the brain child of these of programs. There’s a whole range of programs which we’re very proud of we have created and developed and achieved award winning programs. That came originally from years back with Greatest Asset. We worked together and became good friends and just made it a passion of ours to help companies and people achieve better health.

Brendan: I guess there’s a lot of workers out there that if they’re not given that assistance is like having a coach. If they don’t have access to the coach then maybe they don’t have a chance to get healthier.

Manfred: exactly right and often when you look at programs chosen by companies it’s courses for courses. Sometimes certain things work. Sometimes not. To keep a workforce healthy in a long-term it has to be ongoing.

Brendan: it’s not like you can do one thing and then you can be healthy forever.

Manfred: you know Brendan if you want to lose weight if you don’t have the support from your wife, from your family, from your peers and build an environment at home allows you to do your exercises, eat well it’s not going to happen but often those to take them to the next stage and become yes, I’m buying some shoes now. That is the first step. Once you have got the shoes I start to walk and then eventually to run and then eat better and so forth.

Brendan: when you’re turning around I guess a habit it’s a series of little wins really isn’t it? Like that is what gets the momentum starting to happen.

Manfred: exactly right. I think that is key because we’re inundated in our society now with all those quick fixes in terms of diets, in terms of exercise programs. Guess what? It’s basically in the long run very little chance to succeed because it’s not sustainable. It has to be sustainable and it has to be fun, joy, that you go out there. This is cool and get those wins as you say it before like the small wins and get up in the morning, more energized. Don’t push them too hard to the next level, just enjoy the moment. Once they understand learn how to feel good again then you take them to the next stage, next level.

Brendan: are these programs actually done in the workplace or are they is it like coaching systems that they do outside of the workplace or is it a combination of both of those things?

Manfred: it’s a little bit of combination of both of them. When you look at manual handling we do as well. The platforms that we use is the one on one like have the group there sitting down and do a workshop. Work with them hands on but there’s other ways we do it on the e-learning platform where people use that as a competency based education based program which is effective. It’s quick. They can do it at their own time, on the mobile phone, on iPads, etc. there’s a number of ways you can educate people and run programs. Ideally when we look at the workplace health programs ownership is critical. You do it yourself. Everybody should be taken on a journey. That is important. The ownership has to come from within the organization. They have to run the show basically. We can’t do it. Other providers can’t do it because the support and the commitment is just simply not there. If it’s not there other business priorities would take over and then it ran slowly into the sand but if this becomes part and parcel that is who we are, that is our culture. In all regards it will be quite successful and I can assure that we see that over and over again with a lot of positive and great feedbacks and great stories.

Brendan: are there any particular sectors that are more open to these kinds of programs than others. Where does HealthStyle play typically?

Manfred: we’ve got a whole range of programs or clients and partners in the manufacturing industry and energy sector and the corporate sector right across. I don’t think you really can’t pinpoint certain industries are more likely to run meaningful programs. It’s more like how the board, management, what their objectives are. It always comes down I would think to the CEO of an organization. If there’s a vision there then it goes and it runs. It’s a top down approach. Later on it’s a top down, bottom up. It’s where you take everybody on board.

Brendan: are you able to share with us a program, I mean you don’t have to name the client but tell us a little bit of how the organization changed and how long it took and did it make a change on financial like a bottomline level?

Manfred: yes. Perhaps a good showcase story is Mars Australia. We’re looking at 3000 people. There’s all different business centers. You’re all aware of Mars has got Mars Food, Mars Petcare and so forth, a whole range of manufacturing places around the country. It’s worldwide. It’s a privately owned company. I think that is perhaps a little bit advantage because they can put their own personal standpoint as they like it. Years ago, maybe five, six years ago when we got in contact, even longer with Greatest Asset we did already some work. There was nothing. They had no structure, no wellbeing idea and objective and slowly we just did a pilot project, just a small piece and demonstrated it works. Engagement was so so but as it evolved the second pilot project then suddenly there was a lot more engagement. The company learned how to find those champions to run the show so to speak and then build a wellbeing committee who was or is responsible for any rollout of that sort of initiatives.

When you look at that company now it’s amazing. As I have pointed out before they’ve got their internal capabilities. They know what they want. It’s fantastic to see. Participation rate is 75%, 80% in whatever initiative we do. They’re ready. They know their outcomes. Their return on investment is an absolute no brainer. Right across the board when you look fruit vegetable consumption has increased significantly. The incidents slips and falls, alertness is totally different. They’re factory settings. This is just a high risk sort of environment. That went hand in hand then with the safety procedures and the safety requirements and wellbeing, fatigue management programs etc. where it was needed. The cost have decreased and so has workers compensation.

People are just a lot more aware and quite competitive. We have business centers in there that love it. We have a health check which is a high performance health check and people love it. These whole departments they’re all on board and they want to beat each other. It’s competitive. It’s fun. Yes, their return on investment is they just go on and on every year so it’s fantastic.

Brendan: I’m going to wrap up the session now. I just have some quick questions for you. How old are you Manfred?

Manfred: 54.

Brendan: you must be doing your own program mate, you’re looking great for 54. Second question is what do you do to keep fit?

Manfred: it’s a good question. I have changed a little bit. My approach, I understand in my age you don’t recover as quickly anymore. That is not really a problem for me. I do perhaps three sessions a week but very short 10, 15 minutes two sessions. A CrossFit type session or a hit program on a circuit basis and one centering run like number of runs of course. That keeps me fit. I think I’m as fit as I was 20 years ago.

Brendan: how many hours of sleep are you getting on average per night?

Manfred: definitely eight hours. I need minimum of eight hours.

Brendan: you’re prioritizing your sleep.

Manfred: absolutely.

Brendan: do you have any personal goals that you’re looking to achieve in the next 12 months?

Manfred: not really. Perhaps in terms of our business that we want to take to the next level because we’re passionate about it. We love what we do. Otherwise I’m perhaps in my happiest phase in my life.

Brendan: there is nothing more you want for.

Manfred: one thing there is, I plan a heli-skiing sort of holiday in a few years’ time so I need to keep fit and stay fit and take my boys to heli-skiing.

Brendan: what business achievement do you think you’d like to be most remembered for?

Manfred: just what we do, the lives we changed. I will not take one example. There’s hundreds of examples where people pat you on the shoulder and go like, thank you so much. You actually saved my life. That is powerful. Just a few weeks ago I was in Albury at one of the factories. We did some health checks and that person said, you perhaps not aware of. I would not be alive if HealthStyle wasn’t involved. That was powerful. I don’t want to go in detail but it’s true. We get this over and over again. It’s just there at the right time.

Brendan: great work.

Manfred: thank you.

Brendan: if people want to find a little bit more about HealthStyle how can they find you online?

Manfred: it’s http://www.HealthStyle.net.au. You’ll find information on there. We are on LinkedIn and Facebook as well and Twitter. You can find HealthStyle.net.au. You can find us.

Brendan: thanks very much for coming in Manfred and if you have been enjoying the podcast don’t forget to subscribe and leave us a review and also share it around with your friends. See you next time.

Manfred: thank you.

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