Christian Harris appears on Mike Sedam’s Crucial Talks Podcast on SafetyFM

Slip Safety Services’ founder, Christian Harris, was interviewed on the Crucial Talks Podcast by its host, Mike Sedam, in July 2019.

 

You can listen to the episode here: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/crucial-talks-episode-93-slips-falls-leads-to-talk/id1294533728?i=1000444428472

 

…but a full transcript is available below, too.

 

 

 

– Hello and welcome back to the Crucial Talks podcast. I’m Mike Sedam, your guide on this journey to understand what drives people. If you could do me a quick favor, I’d really appreciate it if you could rate the podcast, review it and subscribe to it. That would help tremendously. Also, if you have any questions for me, please feel free to reach out to me by visiting cruicaltalks.com or through email, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Today, we get to talk to Christian Harris. Christian is a slip safety expert and you may be asking yourself, is a slip safety expert aligned with the purpose of the Crucial Talks podcast, which is to understand what drives people? Now after I talked to Christian, I knew he would be a fit and I think we can learn from him about techniques and products to reduce the chance of a slip and fall, I know we can do that, and I know it can help us on our properties and our businesses at a tactical level but I think we can get much more value from Christian’s experience and expertise with a number of organizations. I mean, he’s going into places communicating with different types of people, having them change the lens through which they look at their own organization. He’s helping them become aware of risks and helping them to see ways to deal with those risks. Now he’s not only counted on as an expert with regard to materials, including techniques and other things that reduce the chance of an accident, but he does need to interact with people at all levels from the CEO to field personnel, and this gives him a tremendous amount of insight and experience that we can learn from on how to deal with people. Now he also needs to have a systems view of organizations he is there to help, because not all organizations are the same, not all properties are the same and he’s got to have this broader based view of things when he’s dealing with all these different people. So, without further ado, let’s welcome the Managing Director of Slip Safety Services, Christian Harris. How you doing today Christian?

 

– I’m very well thanks Mike, and thank you for the introduction. Let’s hope I can live up to that.

 

– Oh, I’m sure you can. After talking to you, your experience is quite varied, which is what I’d like you to talk to us a little bit about now is, how did you get to be a slip safety expert? What does the journey look like to get you from there to here when you’re going into all these organizations trying to help them out? How did you get to this place? How did you get to this job? How did you get to this career where you’re doing this and what did that look like for you?

 

– Well I always hate to say that I fell into it, but it’s kind of true, excusing the pun. When I was at university, I was always quite entrepreneurial and I had a few different business ideas and entrepreneurial activities I got involved in, including something in the online poker industry which was quite interesting as a bit of a precursor because it helped me to think about people factors and risk factors, and probabilities of things happening so I think to some extent that was quite good training to lead me to where I got to. I then did a few years as a management business consultant, so we were kind of helping private equity firms on whether they should invest in some companies or not, looking at it from a commercial perspective so again looking at things like personal satisfaction, and getting to speak to and do primary research with quite senior people in all sorts of different industries and then after doing that for a few years, I wanted to get my hands a bit dirty, shall we say, and do something in a quote on quote real business and I came across this opportunity in this world because there was a big unsolved need and a big unsolved issue, really, based on the statistics which I’m sure we’ll talk about in terms of accident numbers and costs and things like that, and of course the human cost as well, which is pretty significant. I’ve been in this world for the last eight to nine years now.

 

– Well I find this pretty interesting. So you went to school, you were entrepreneurial, you get into poker of all things and the online poker industry. Now I find it really interesting that you brought these things up. You brought up the fact that that skillset, that experience, that knowledge that you earned from doing that let you think about people and risk, and probabilities and what I find interesting about that is what you’re doing now, ’cause what you’re doing now with Slip Safety is really about people, because they’re the ones that are falling down, the risk they deal with and the probabilities of that risk, so it’s a cool little segue that you went from being a poker player and doing online poker stuff, and to take that knowledge and that lens through which you get to view the world and applying it to something like slips, that’s really interesting. So when we’re talking about that, what is the risk and what is this probability that we’re dealing with when we’re talking about workplace accidents, or customers falling, or that sort of thing? What are we talking about? What’s the risk there? What’s the probability of that happening? What is the actual danger that occurs in that arena?

 

– Well, certainly in the UK, it’s the biggest cause of accidents in the workplace in the majority of sectors. It’s the biggest cause of people being admitted to the emergency room in hospital, other than if they’re going back in as a result of they’ve already been in hospital and something else has happened and they’re returning but if it’s a stand alone event, it’s the biggest cause, over 300,000 admissions a year, one and a half million hospital bed days a year, so it’s a very high frequency event, but I think, and I’m sure we’ll touch on this, but there’s a bit of a perception issue because of the fact that it is a high frequency event but seen as maybe not the most serious kind of accident that someone could have, and not helped by things like movies and comedians slipping over and falling over and it doesn’t help the perception of it really, but I think actually if you look at it in black and white, it’s quite a big issue. I saw something recently that suggested that in the US, the slip, trip, fall cost equated to something like 1% of GDP. I don’t think it’s quite as high as that in the UK, but it’s certainly in the billions of pounds a year, so yeah, it’s a big issue.

 

– Well I find this interesting because in the safety world, the things that actually cause people to be killed are usually different than the things that cause them to be injured, but the things that cause them to be injured, that’s a pretty big pool of things and so when you’re talking about 1% of GDP, now 1% doesn’t sound like a lot, but 1% of a number as big as GDP–

 

– That’s a big number.

 

– That’s huge. It’s a very big number, and what I found interesting that you said is that there is this perception issue that we can get into now since you mentioned it, I think it’s a great time to talk about it because you’re talking about the fact that slips and falls are a high frequency event but they’re not seen as important. I mean, I can go onto Facebook right now and look at some of the viral videos and there’s people slipping on ice, and falling and all that and it’s sold as comedy, it’s sold as something funny, but in reality it does have a real cost to it but I understand that the perception may not be that it’s as bad as things that will cause a fatal accident so when you’re talking about perception, how do you see this as a perception issue and what did you do to shift people’s perception to see an issue? I mean, we talk about issues all the time. Slips is just an example of one issue we could talk about but perception of issues really goes down to how people see things, or how people are going to react to them, so what is this perception issue and how do we deal with it?

 

– Yeah, well firstly, don’t get me wrong. I love watching a video of a dog slipping on ice comically as much as anybody, but I think what I try to do is use emotive language and emotive messaging, and try to bring that seriousness out because if you speak to people, what you’ll find typically is that they’ve always got a story regarding somebody slipping, tripping or falling, whether that’s themselves or whether it’s somebody close to them. If you start talking to them about some of the things that can happen, they’ll say oh yeah, well that happened to me or I nearly slipped over here or my brother actually slipped over here, or I was speaking to a client recently and she’d actually been on holiday and her husband had slipped over in a bathtub. He’d cut his head, he’d had what she thought was a concussion. Just before Christmas, a very close friend of mine who was actually 32 weeks pregnant at the time, slipped over and she quite seriously broke her ankle in three places. So, just two examples from my own personal world in the last three or four months that bring it home so I think if you can try to get people to think about the fact that 95% of these serious slips are leading to at least a broken bone, that’s pretty significant and if you can get people to think about actually that could have been me or that reminds me of somebody that I know, or a story that I’ve heard, that’s quite powerful I think.

 

– Well, I think you hit a good point here because you talk about the need to use emotive language, emotive messaging to bring out the seriousness because we could throw out a statistic sheet of data and you have all that information. You know the cost, you know how many there are, you know the percentages, but that doesn’t seem like just that data alone will drive people to decision making, will drive people to change anything. You really use that data to tell the story and that story, from what I hear you saying, has to have some sort of emotion to it. It has to have some sort of realness to the person you’re talking to about it. Is that what you see in your experience?

 

– Yeah, absolutely, and I think that counts for not just slips and falls but just broader health and safety. I mean, I arranged a health and safety risk management round table last summer and one of the key messages that came out of that was that we as a health safety and risk management community focus a lot on the return on investments and the costs, and the insurance premiums and the insurance claims and all of this stuff, but actually, fundamentally, it’s about people here and we’re in this world of health and safety to stop people getting hurt, and sometimes that gets forgotten or pushed on the back burner a little bit to the extent that, or sorry to the expense of the costs, and that’s probably not really the best way of looking at it.

 

– Well, that seems pretty interesting. So you did this round table with a bunch of different health and safety professionals and you guys talked about this focus on return on investment, on ROI, costs, insurance but then everybody was able to come back to the core of all of this, which is it’s about the people and sometimes I think, in a lot of our organizations when we’re talking about safety, we do focus on the data, we focus on those metrics that are really easy to capture, relatively easy to capture, but it really doesn’t go to the core of what you’re talking about which is if it’s actually about the people, if we actually have a focus on the people, the people at the core of what we’re doing, the workers, the people at the pointy end of the stick or our customers, people that are actually feeling the impact of our decisions and of the issues we face in organizations that’s truly the important part of it and everything else can come from that. I mean, if we deal with the people in a proactive, positive, strength based way, the ROI, the costs, the insurance, the data, all that stuff we track, will follow along.

 

– It should follow, yeah.

 

– Well with that notion of people, that it’s about the people, when you go into an organization, when you first start talking to companies, how do you actually approach them? Does it take a focus on data to get your foot in the door or are you seeing better ways to communicate when you first engage with a company when you’re talking about these safety issues? What are you seeing to be a benefit to how you start communicating with them?

 

– I think it helps to be working alongside some of the insurers for sure, because they will help to open the door in perhaps a more open minded way from the prospect’s perspective. I think if you, everybody’s aware of slips and falls as being a big issue, I think, but if you speak to somebody out of the blue and say, I help people to understand this more and then to do things about this, and we can halve your accident rates, quite often you’ll hear oh, we don’t have a problem with that and you know statistically that can’t be the case, so it certainly helps with a warm introduction, but I mean I think what we try to do is demystify some of the misperceptions or misunderstandings around this particular subject, so for example the fact that you can scientifically measure and quantify how slippery a floor surface is means that if you take it down to the human level, you can explain to somebody and demonstrate to them that on this floor in their kitchen, they have quite a good surface and they’re only relying on less than one in a million people to have to self address in order not to slip, whereas in this front of house, shiny entrance area floor, the slip resistance of that floor is such that one in 20 people will have to do something in order not to slip, so in other words you’re relying on a significantly larger proportion of the people to do something to avoid an accident. That helps to bring it home a bit for them. So I think introducing the science and bringing in some of these human stories really helps.

 

– So there’s a couple of really good things you said there. Two in particular. The first one I want to talk about is the fact that you have found success in working alongside insurers and it helps to work alongside them, because what you said was, it really helps to have this warm introduction and what I see from that, that a benefit for everybody listening is, whether they’re in safety, or they’re a small business owner or dealing with a team member, whatever it is, what’s interesting about what you said there was that you’re using that insurer, that partner as almost a bridge to get a relationship started with somebody else and I think that’s valuable because even in an organization, you may be working in the safety office or you may be working in the executive office, but you want to bring out this change that’s going to affect the worker, the field level personnel. Sometimes we need a bridge between us and them. Sometimes we need that third party that’s kind of in the middle, that has a relationship with both to increase that level of trust and I really found that interesting, but the other thing I found interesting is that you are able to segue into this idea that you’re there to, once you get in the front door, you try to demystify what’s going on and I found it interesting that you talked about scientifically measuring how slippery a surface is and then talking about the difference between the kitchen floor in your house and maybe the entryway in your house, one where you may only need somebody to self address one in a million times, when on another surface it may be one in twenty. So what I really found interesting about this is when I heard you say that, I automatically thought about systems. What we’re talking about and what I see is that you’re looking at the human being as part of that system and what you’re trying to do is say, in this system we know people are gonna be working in it. How do we address the environment they’re working in to reduce the focus we have on the human being having to solve all their own problems. Why can’t we make the environment in which they work a system where they can do the work like they normally do, engage with the environment like they normally do, but reduce that focus on then having to do something special to stay safe. Is that what I heard from that?

 

– Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think any time you’re relying on humans to try to do something, I think we’re all fallible, I don’t know if my wife’s in earshot, but she can’t rely on me to wash the dishes every day, so you can’t really rely on humans who are working to necessarily follow all the processes and do all the things that you would like them to do, so therefore you shouldn’t be really trying to rely on them to avoid accidents if you can help it. I mean there are six factors, or six sources of a slip as we call them, to use the alliteration following on from our name and human factors is one of the six, but three of the six are the floor, the contamination on the floor and the cleaning of the floor. The other two are environmental factors and footwear. So you can, through a systematic risk assessment, look at all of these points and pick out the ones that you can actually influence the most and typically, the human elements of things are the ones where you probably want to be less reliant upon them than others. I mean, if you for example, have a restaurant that you’re operating, and you can put in good footwear, good safety footwear, or should I say slip resistant footwear because safety footwear and slip resistant footwear is not one and the same, you can see a dramatic reduction in your accidents and therefore claims and costs, and issues through that but equally, you can’t control the footwear that your customers are wearing on their feet, so therefore in those areas, you need to be thinking about other things. We tend to focus in on the floor surface and trying to manage the floor surface, the cleaning of it, the contamination thereof, all the way through the life cycle from specification, so if you can actually start with putting in a good floor and thinking about lighting and environmental factors, and so on and so forth, you’ve got a good chance of keeping it safe and therefore not having to rely on those human elements being perfect.

 

– Well and that’s where I find it really interesting what you do in the broader context of what we’re taking about because if we understand that human beings are fallible, not only are humans fallible, but from one person to another, their physical conditioning, their depth perception, their experience, the shape of their foot, their gait, all that stuff is so different from human being to human being that being able to understand the environment seems pretty important because you’re talking about things like the type of flooring and the type of contamination that might be on the floor and how that floor is cleaned. All of that stuff is really environmental, or in other words, using an example of this, it really could be a systems issue. Even though we’re talking about flooring and we’re talking about people engaging with that flooring it really has this broader view of systems, so when you’re in an organization or when you’re dealing with that organization, I mean it’s got to be different from one place to another because if you’re going into a manufacturing plant, you may have control over the type of footwear that’s issued to the worker or that’s required that the worker wear, but in a retail shop, you don’t have that control. People could be wearing, they could be barefoot, they could be wearing dress shoes, they could be wearing athletic shoes, so when you go into an organization, knowing they can be different and trying to help them become either self aware or organizationally aware of the issues they may have to deal with, what are the first steps? So you’ve already got into the organization and now you’re trying to bring awareness to that. How do you communicate that awareness? How do you bring to the surface the things that they should know without getting buried in minutiae but giving them just enough information so they want to take action? What kind of things do you do to help them understand those things and spur them to take some action?

 

– What we try to do is to get out and see the real world from the perspective of their organization, so if you’re a big company and you’re operating, I dunno, a dozen hotels or 100 super stores, or whatever it is, you’re not really out on the shop floor on a daily basis and you probably don’t really know what’s going on there for your staff or for your clients, from the angle of slip safety. Of course people know what’s going on broadly in their business. What we try to do is, as quickly as we can on that journey of getting to know an organization as a potential client of ours is to get out there and visit a few of their sites and actually go and do some assessments and pick up on all of these six factors that I mentioned, including doing some of this testing of the floors because I think once you can show people and really quantify where their issues are, that does help to bring it to life and secondly, if you are out and you’re speaking to their staff or even potentially their customers, you’ll pick up tidbits. I mean, I was with a car showroom company the other day and one of the guys there, the risk manager, mentioned he went to a particular store and he actually slipped over as he entered through the main entrance and one of his colleagues there on reception or whatever said, oh yeah, everybody slips there, but for him nothing had been flagged up to him as the risk manager, essentially, and they’ve got about 200 sites I think. That wasn’t on his radar at all, but actually just going there and seeing it with his own eyes really helped and speaking to somebody who saw that floor on a daily basis so we try to bring it to life as much as we can on the local level, and then overlay that with some of our experience from other sectors and with the insurers, and the statistical stuff as well.

 

– Well I find that really interesting. Just to hit on this really quick. So you go into this building and the person you’re going with, who’s an executive level, sounds like an executive level manager or something like that, slips and somebody who works there everyday actually says, “everybody slips there”, and I find that really interesting because in so many organizations, there’s so much of this either middle or top level focus that a lot of times, we’re not engaged with the people that have their boots on the ground, that have that field level knowledge and it seems like this one visit, I mean just that one incident in and of itself, helped change perception because it was able to be seen from that field level and I think that’s a valuable lesson for everybody that’s dealing with an organizational issue or trying to make their organization better, that they need to engage with that field level personnel, that they’ve got to engage with the worker. They have to engage with the people at the pointy end of the stick because those people have, not only do they shed light on the problems but they shed light on the solutions to those problems.

 

– Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think if you spoke to every CEO of every major company, and you asked them what their number one priority was, they would probably, 95% of them would say safety’s our number one priority. It’s the done thing to say that, and I think that most big companies do have a good safety culture at the top, but what I see is that it gets lost in translation between the board level and the shop floor. So for example, you might have somebody that says, yeah, safety’s our number one priority, we’re investing in X, Y and Z, but they’re operating restaurants let’s say, and the general manager of the restaurant is incentivized based on his profit and loss and therefore, if he can shave off say 5% from his cleaning costs every year, which he can probably do by doing cleaning a bit less frequently or using, perhaps, a slightly cheaper chemical to clean the floor with, then he’s gonna look good in his manager’s eyes and he’s going to get his bonus and so on and so forth, but actually that 5% saving from the cleaning budget may have resulted in a massive increase in accidents and people getting hurt, and claim costs and so on and so forth, so maybe the message doesn’t quite get through all the way in an organization, and therefore you find people working in silos or people working at cross purposes and they’re not given maybe the support that they should be given at that level, because actually if safety is the number one priority, they should really be told okay, this is how you’ve got to maintain your floor from a slip perspective, and this is how you’ve got to train your staff from a manual handling perspective and we’re gonna allocate you a budget for it and actually this budget, we expect you to spend 100% of that and your bonus, and your PnL and all this other stuff, has nothing to do with that because that’s obligatory. It’s got to be done, it’s safety, it’s very important, and that would actually give more support to those people down at the local level.

 

– And so we’re talking about support of the people at the local level, of supporting the people doing the work, and what I find interesting about where we’re going with this is the fact that okay, you go into an organization, you get your feet on the ground, you take a look at the areas where people are actually walking. You’re not just looking at paper, you’re not just looking at statistics, you’re actually there to see how, for lack of a better term, how work is actually completed or how things are actually done, not just what’s on paper. So once you go in there, you see what’s going on, you analyze, you figure things out, you talk to people, you look for yourself. Now you find issues. How do you communicate those issues? Because I know for a fact that if we communicate issues, I mean the issues are the issues, but how we communicate those issues, it seems to be pretty important because if we communicate them in a wrong way, people get defensive, people shut down, that sort of thing. People see, oh, there’s some liability here and they close off, but that doesn’t really help us solve the problem, so when you’re trying to communicate the issues you’ve found or the things that need to be addressed, how do you communicate those in a way that is serious and is something you need to do but doesn’t evoke the raw emotion of conflict or to create somebody to be defensive? How you do you talk to people to explain those issues without drawing that line in the sand where they might be now seeing you as the enemy as opposed to seeing you as an ally? How do you communicate those things?

 

– It’s a really good question, Mike, and it’s something that has to be bespoke and it’s something that I’m always trying to improve upon. I mean, my strong desire in doing what I do is that I don’t want to be seen as an ambulance chaser, a no win, no fee lawyer type person looking to find every single problem and really capitalize on it and so on, and so the ideal visit for me to a building is where we can demonstrate, through the testing and the assessment that actually this floor’s fine here, this floor’s fine here, this could be a little bit better, this one here’s a problem and therefore you’re trying to give that really balanced view. I mean, fundamentally, if there’s a problem, I think you have to explain it and tell it as it is but try and back it up as I said earlier with some scientific proof, so therefore it’s not my opinion because lots of people would say I know what I’m talking about. That doesn’t necessarily mean that somebody is going to believe me if I give my opinion, but if I can back that up with evidence, whether that’s qualitative or quantitative, and obviously we prefer the scientific evidence if we can, that’s gonna help to support things. I mean, health and safety as you say is quite… Well people can get defensive about anything, but I find health and safety, the head of health and safety in an organization, they’ve normally shaped and molded the policies and the procedures the way that they want them to be, so any suggestion that they might be better can certainly be perceived as a criticism, but I think most people in health and safety as we touched on earlier, are looking to stop people getting hurt and actually they will be open minded about doing things differently, or doing things better if you can prove to them there is a better way of doing it. I mean, one of the challenges around slips, trips and falls is that people are aware of the issue, albeit as we said, there’s a bit of a perception issue about it but they don’t really know that you can test the floors. For example, they don’t really know what the kinds of solutions are that can be put in place that are really practical and really proven to work, so I think as long as you approach it in such a way that you’re trying to help them and actually you’re giving a balanced view and saying we can help you with this and this is where someone else has done this and found it useful, but actually this is really good and carry on as you are or we’ll speak to this company and they might be able to help you here. In other words, you’re not just trying to sell, sell, sell, you’re actually trying to help them solve the problem and I think that’s got to be the way to go.

 

– I see a couple of great things that you said there. So the first thing was, when you go in, you find something wrong, you want to communicate those things, you aren’t going in just looking for the bad stuff, you’re actually looking for the good stuff in addition to any problems you find and by having that balanced view, it sounds like that helps build trust. It helps build trust between you and who you are communicating with, so it sounds like when you’re doing this sort of communication, when you’re talking to people about issues, you are coming from the right place and by coming from the right place, you’re not just coming from a place where you want to sell them something or where you just want to get money from them, you’re coming from a place where you’re there for the right reasons and sounds like coming from that place helps that communication process because they build trust with you and they can see that you’re not there just to make a sale, but you’re there for the right reasons.

 

– Yeah, that’s true, and I think again, the insurance relationships and some of the other partnerships we have with flooring suppliers and health and safety consultants and FM companies and things like that all help and the big insurance companies wouldn’t be partnering with us if they felt we weren’t gonna be going in and giving a balanced view. I mean, there’s nothing worse than when you go into somewhere and you start doing the testing and then all of the surfaces you’re finding are really poor, really slippery when wet, in environments where they probably shouldn’t be so slippery, because you can see the client or the prospect looking at you. Is this guy making this up? Is this guy just trying to sell me something I don’t want and so on, and there are unfortunately, as I think with lots of niche industries like mine, there are some people in the market that perhaps aren’t as trustworthy as others and people have had some bad experiences in the past as well so there are some challenges there that sometimes you need to overcome, but I think look, people have to know, like and trust you to want to do business with you. Trust I think is really critical there and if I’m putting my name to the business and I’m putting my name to the reports, I’m putting my name to the relationship with one of my partners, then I better be sure what I’m telling people is true.

 

– When you go into a place, and we’re talking about communication, we’re talking about you find issues, so one, you have to get your foot in the door, two, you have to find the issues and you communicate those issues properly but the last thing is, you have to communicate some solutions. Now, when you communicate those solutions and I totally understand it when you’re looking for issues, engaging the people at the field level to get their input, do you also see a value that when you come up with solutions that you engage field level personnel at that point also because it’s not just the cost you’re talking about, you’re talking about instituting a change and say you come up with hey, this is how we’re gonna make this floor less slippery but if you don’t engage with the worker, sometimes that can lead to the worker now working on a floor that they won’t slip on, but now makes the job they do more difficult. Like maybe they’re moving pallets or they’re having to drag something across the floor or move something, or whatever it happens to be. Do you, when you communicate the solution, do you see a value in continuing that framework where you’re talking to all different levels of the organization to get buy in or to get input?

 

– Yeah, absolutely, because look, if we’re gonna be working with the client we want the solution to actually work and we want to be able to track it and monitor it, and evidence it because there’s two sides to what we do. One is, let’s make environments safer and let’s see fewer accidents and two is, let’s as a result of that enable the client to defend claims better and more successfully as and when they do arise. I mean if you take including the floor surface’s friction as one example of a solution that we might put into place, you can put in a treated floor or you could rip up the existing floor and put in brand new floor with very good slip resistance. That floor is only gonna be as good as the way it’s looked after on a day by day basis. Now if we can put in a good surface or treat the floor to make it as good as possible, that produces the reliance on the daily cleaning and makes sense a little bit, but if you have a… I mean if you think about a health club, if you go to pretty much any health club and you stand in the shower or you go onto the poolside, you’re gonna see a textured floor surface so somebody has thought about the fact that this floor may get wet and therefore, they’ve decided to put in a textured surface on the floor. Whether or not that’s the correct approach, let’s leave that for now, but those floors can be just as slippery as a smooth floor because if they’re not cleaned very well and maintained very well, you have a layer of body fats and shampoos and oils, and so on and so forth which are producing a barrier between your foot or your heel coming down on the floor, so you can have a good floor surface but a barrier of contamination that’s causing you to slip, so you have to engage with the cleaning staff and the local managers to really explain to them what’s happening and the role that they need to play going forward in maintaining the improvements in safety that we’re helping people to achieve.

 

– I find that another interesting point, and one that we can just start wrapping up the episode on, is the fact that you just said it’s important that everybody in that organization understands the role they need to play and I find that really fascinating because one, you not only need the buy in from executives and managers to fund the changes, to get them into policy, to change the processes; you also need the engagement of supervisors that are dealing with the workers and you need the engagement of all different types of workers, as the person working on the floor, getting the job done, may not be the same person cleaning the floor and that person cleaning the floor may not be the same person, or they may have a different need than the person that’s actually using the floor to get the job done, so it really sounds like this wholistic approach is what needs to happen, for slips and slip prevention, really needs to be a wholistic approach from top to bottom to make some of these changes.

 

– Yeah, absolutely, and that’s why regrettably I’m not driving a Ferrari yet, because the wholistic approach to solutions does take a bit longer sometimes, than something that’s very easy to put into place but where we can achieve the wholistic solution, it does really work and it’s got a great chance of actually sustaining over time and that’s, as I said earlier, that’s what we’re aiming for, we’re aiming to help people actually solve this problem, not put a bandaid over it and temporarily stop something from happening only to see it just return or even get worse. We want to see systemic, fundamental changes and improvements. That’s our mission really. We believe that pretty much every slip is avoidable if people understood this subject better so our mission is really to try to stop as many of these accidents from happening as we can.

 

– Well I find that really fascinating and a good place to leave off. Who would have thought that two guys talking about slippery floors could cover really a systems view of change, communication tactics to use and the importance of all these different roles people play within an organization that are super important to getting things done and really talking about dealing with problems, solving problems, addressing issues, in a way that not only solves that one problem at the micro level, but making it workable so that at the macro level, things are still effective and efficient. I mean, this is really fascinating that we were able to talk about slips but really in a way that is really fundamentally talking about human and organizational performance. I think it’s really fascinating we were able to go there in all these different ways with a poker player.

 

– I can assure that I haven’t been bluffing throughout the whole episode at all. Playing with my cards to my chest. Yeah, I think look, it’s a subject that as we said does end up touching on all aspects of an organization, and it’s all about human behavior and improving the way things are done and if you can do that, the rewards can be dramatic. We in the UK have one person slipping over in the workplace every three minutes, so if we could have that, that would be a fantastic result for people and a halving of accident rates is more than achievable based on the work and the case studies that we’ve done before so that’s got to be an achievable goal for any organization really, and so we’re just here to try to help people to understand this a bit more, in a bit more depth and to stop taking this helicopter view and drill down into some of the detail a bit more and to that end, there’s a tool actually on our website which might be useful to people which is called the Slip Safety Scorecard. Basically, this is a quiz I suppose, for want of a better term. We ask you roughly 40 yes, no questions so it takes about 10 minutes, or five to 10 minutes to complete and then you get a personalized report which benchmarks you against the six sources of slips so as we said earlier, floor, contamination, cleaning, environment, human factors and footwear and it gives you actionable and practical advice on how to improve your score, so that would be a good place for any listeners to start thinking about this in a more systemized way. Take the scorecard, get the report and then they can feel free to arrange a call with me, no cost for that, just to have a consultation call and we can chat it through in a bit more detail. We only really operate in the UK, but happy to help and the same principles apply to people all over the world, so there’s no issue with speaking to anybody really, about this and accident prevention in the US or in Australia, or anywhere else, is an accident prevented at the end of the day so that’s a good outcome.

 

– Well, and so where do they go to find out more about you and to get access to the Slip Safety Scorecard? What website is it, where can they go to get more information about that?

 

– The URL of the website is www.slipsafety.co.uk. I’m also pretty active on LinkedIn, so most days there’s stuff coming out on LinkedIn so you could search for me on LinkedIn, and we have a Twitter as well, which is @slip__safety. Regrettably, somebody had taken the Slip Safety already so we had to do the double underscore, but at least it stands out. So yeah, visit the website, connect with me on LinkedIn, I’m always keen to have more people on LinkedIn and I get some great engagement on lots of my posts. I did one recently about signage. There was a sign in a washroom in a busy convention center which said words to the effect of, “Caution, floor slippery when wet,” which to me was a bit of a red flag because if they knew the floor was slippery when wet and it was in a washroom, which is an environment which is gonna get wet, that’s not exactly a nice place to be in, and then we ended up having operators, as in business operators, safety managers, lawyers, everybody was weighing in with different views about this sign on the floor, sorry on the wall of a washroom in London. There’s some quite interesting debates that can go on on LinkedIn, so I encourage people to connect and follow us on there and yeah, the scorecard is available on the website so it’d be great to see some listeners taking advantage of that. It’s a free tool, so give it a go.

 

– Yeah, well thank you very much. I mean, I really found this conversation fascinating. Again, I’m almost amazed just because two guys can talk about slips and floors, and footwear, and cleaning in a way that really has broader application and really broader lessons, so thank you so much for really joining us on this episode and talking to us in a way that isn’t just about floors are slippery and this is what you need to do to prevent it, but really in a way that can apply to different areas of what we do in an organization, so thank you so much for coming on.

 

– My pleasure, Mike.

 

– All right, great. Well everybody, if you got value out of that conversation we just had with Christian Harris, please share the podcast, review it and rate it and go visit and see what Christian’s doing. Take a look at slipsafety.co.uk, take a look at that, connect with him on LinkedIn. There are some valuable communications going on in the social media space that we could all be a part of and all learn from, so really thank you so much for listening. If you get a chance, if you need anything, please visit me at crucialtalks.com and feel free to connect with me via email, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter. Again, if you need anything from me, I’m here for you, so have a great week and remember, if we want to understand behavior, we need to understand what drives people.

 

– Please review, share and subscribe to the Crucial Talks podcast. Visit crucialtalks.com.

 

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