HOW WE CAN HELP

“Start with Why” implores Simon Sinek in his much vaunted TED Talk. 

And that is what Michael’s Story will provide for you…why you do what you do. 

Start with why…

  • your leadership teams need to care, and be seen to care;
  • you’re introducing new safe systems of work;
  • it’s paramount you set people to work in a safe environment, with the right tools and equipment;
  • you expect people to speak up if they see that something’s not safe; and
  • …so much more besides.

 

Michael’s Story will help you and your colleagues make the emotional connection with what you’re constantly striving to achieve: everyone going home safe and sound at the end of their working day, night, posting,  assignment…whatever it may be.

It’s been said that people will forget what you said, they will forget what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel. 

The telling of Michael’s Story has a profound and long-lasting impact on its audience.  

But we don’t ever want it just to be another sad safety story. 

We know that it will help your organisation move mindsets, inspire action, and save lives. 

MS-Web-Block
Green Quote Marks

The message you deliver is so powerful, watching both rooms, you could see the change of the workforce from "why am I here" to "wow, this is real".

Commercial & Interiors Business Senior HS&W Lead

The Team

Louise is the main speaker here at Michael’s Story, a former lawyer, multi-award winner, and NEBOSH Ambassador. But more important than any of that, she’s a big sister who lost her wee brother.  And who is now determined to stop any other family suffering the way hers does. 

The Michael’s Story team is strengthened further by two individuals who have been where you are.    

Andy Forbes MBE served his apprenticeship, qualified as a mechanical fitter, served in various production roles, before moving into health and safety in 1991.    

And Jo King, our Communications Manager undertook the NEBOSH diploma in her previous role.  

And there’s a fourth member, who you’ll never get to meet or speak to…

When to hire a motivational health and safety speaker?

The opportunity may be taken at the very outset of a project to get all those involved together for a pre-start meeting, particularly where a number of sub-contractors are being used. As it’s been described to us, this might be part of a “relentless drive to instil a total safety culture in the team as it develops in advance of construction start.”

Use of a personal story helps bring to life the importance of the expectations that are being set. 

It may alternatively be that a particular stage is reached in a project where it is felt there is a need to take a bit of time out and issue a reminder about the hazard that is about to be introduced. Understandably, we’re approached most often at the critical stage of “power on”.

Holding a safety standdown can be a potent way to refocus minds.


You might choose to hold one for staff returning from furlough, or after the lengthy summer holiday period, or else after the winter break, particularly so if there has been an enforced closure for all staff over Christmas and New Year period. Rather than go straight back to work, the first morning, maybe even the first day, is spent at a standdown.


There are also standdowns held after a serious incident, or after a run of near misses. And it’s particularly important to get the tone of these right. That it’s not about blame. It’s about future prevention.

“Strong and active leadership from the top: visible, active commitment from the board;” is the very first “essential principle” set out in the joint IoD/HSE publication “Leading Health and Safety at Work”.

While a legal briefing on latest sentencing guidelines will focus attention and push many a director’s buttons, combining this with a real-life story will push them even harder. Members of any Board have an individual and collective responsibility for health and safety. As such, there is a need for those at board/level to “champion” safety but also be held accountable for its delivery.

If you keep doing the same things – you will keep getting the same results!

On having spent the day with a company’s Group Executive Council in Cologne, the Chairman brought Louise to tears at the session’s end, leaving her with the words “We are fighting for you” ringing in her ears.

We believe we can help you achieve “health and safety – the way we do things here.”

Using a safety speaker at a leadership conference may most often be to hammer home the message that health and safety is not someone else’s job. It’s everyone’s job. 

This is an excerpt from a video that was produced by Siemens of Louise, for a Leadership Conference, distilling the message you may want to get across to your leadership team: https://vimeo.com/254204662

We’ve often heard the line management of an organisation described as something like “the permafrost”

It’s the level at which safety focus is perhaps most likely to get blurred by the need for productivity, profitability, quality, or financial performance. 

As the quote below demonstrates, health and safety rules may be viewed as an add-on to the task in hand, but by engaging a safety speaker, you can regain the right focus.

“…it caused me to reflect on how I viewed Health and Safety…I found although I acted in accordance with the rules, I realised the rules were viewed by me as an add-on to the task at hand….Your story changed that, for me safety is the task, which we reflect on constantly: are our processes correct? are they keeping staff safe? Constantly reviewing, constantly checking.  Thank you for the time you spent with us.”

When you have a regular safety day planned, perhaps annually, it can be difficult keeping it fresh and relevant to your workforce.

This becomes even more acute when you have committed to regular safety weeks – perhaps bi-annually to coincide with International Workers’ Memorial Day in April and European Health and Safety week in October. Or have gone even further and, like Crossrail, have had a rolling period of Stepping Up weeks over the course of their project.

Then there are those, who, like Highland Spring did recently, designate a health and safety month, which needs filled with engaging content. 

A health and safety speaker will provide your “Why?”

Risk profile changes through the length and breadth of any project, none more so than ahead of a shutdown. The range of hazards increases, perhaps as a result of installation of new plant; commissioning of machinery and equipment; a variety of external contractors being added to the mix of your own staff; and tight timescales needing to be worked to. 

Where a safety speaker will be most effective here is where they have a message around the need to have safe systems of work operating in practice, not just existing on paper, and where they recognise the importance of getting a job done on time, but can explain that the first priority must be to get the job done safely, because “on time” is the added extra, rather than vice versa.

This can sometimes be a tricky one for us, because when is a behavioural safety programme a positive, and when is it a very different kind of BS? 

If asked to get involved in a behavioural safety programme, we’ll want to understand more. We’ll want to know there’s a Just and Fair Culture, that root cause is identified in any investigation, and that behavioural safety is not shorthand for blaming the worker. 

It remains difficult for Louise to come to terms with the fact her brother may have taken a shortcut, or gone against his training and relied on an incorrectly applied label. We don’t know for sure, as only Michael could tell us. But the fact remains, her brother was not provided with a safe environment in which to work, with the tools and equipment he needed to do his job safely, and with the supervision and management he deserved. 

Behavioural safety is then, for us, about behaviours at every level of an organisation.

“The biggest fear of our management is going out there and people thinking: they don’t know what they’re talking
about!” This is what Louise was told by a TU rep when she was doing some research on behavioural safety and the role of management in engaging in a visible leadership programme. 

Well, do you know what, Louise really doesn’t know what she’s talking about when it comes to most industrial
settings! She went from school to university and then to working as a lawyer for 13 years. She wouldn’t know one
end of a compressor from another.  Though, thankfully, Andy does. But, do you know what…when it comes to visible safety leadership / walkrounds, it doesn’t matter a jot what your background is. 

It’s about getting out into your workplace and having a two way and meaningful conversation with those working
on your site on your joint commitment to their safety. And your workforce may be more likely to open up to someone they’ve struck an emotional connection with.

Visible Leadership Tours can help as part of a strategy to address poor safety performance or as part of a wider
safety improvement programme, helping the leadership community find new ways of engaging the workforce…after all, safety is not about statistics, it’s about looking after yourself and others.

We believe we can help you set an example and not just talk about it.  

When planning an annual safety conference, you will want to ensure you deliver a message which at least lasts until the following year’s conference, if not long beyond! 

It’s therefore heartening to receive emails that say things like: 

“A year ago in May you came to speak at the SSG Annual Conference. This year I was unable to attend and last week was asked by a colleague why they hadn’t seen me there. We chatted for a while about the conference and what I had missed. He then asked if I had attended the year before because there had been a fantastic presentation by a lady who spoke about the death of her brother and how the engineers, in particular, had been able to relate to what was said.

This is just a quick e-mail to say that Michael’s Story has not been forgotten by SSG.”

A SELECTION OF OUR SERVICES

MICHAEL'S STORY

A 40 minute presentation which WILL move your workforce.  Louise talks of the night her brother suffered a fatal electric shock at work, outlining the failings which led to his death, and the lessons to be learned.

MOCK TRIAL

This immersive workshop is based around the real-life health and safety trial of Michael’s employer.  Exploring the role management play in ensuring health and safety, from the perspective of a former lawyer and HSE Director. 

SAFETY WALKROUNDS

A detailed report based on the findings of our incredibly knowledgeable team, covering observations from your site, conversations with staff and discussions with management, with suggested action points. 

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Neil Griffiths - Arco

“Everyone should hear this delivered by Louise.  I have heard this first hand and I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.  Importantly, and this is why Louise does it, it makes everyone think really hard about safety and the consequences of things going wrong, and those little shortcuts that people take and think “it’ll be OK”.  Superbly delivered and probably the most powerful presentation I’ve been privileged to see and hear.  One you will never forget.”

Neil Griffiths - Divisional Director - Logistics at Arco Ltd