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#14: Guess what I did to a turkey today?

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November 21, 2018 | 52 minutes 36 seconds

In this episode of the podcast, series host Jill James reconnects with Dr. Amy Orders, Managing Director of Emergency Management Mission Continuity, with North Carolina State University.

Dr. Orders got her start as a radiation safety officer, in the healthcare industry. Today, she’s making her professional safety mark in higher education, yet remains close to radiation safety research. With infectious enthusiasm, Dr. Orders offers plenty of terrific, practical advice for safety pro colleagues out there. You’ll learn how the presentation of facts and science can break or break the safety training experience, the importance of establishing dialogue and practicing “relationship language” with the workforce, and why tailoring your approach with different audiences is essential for success. You’ll also explore two paradigms of adult education: Problem-Based Learning and Authentic Learning. Also, there’s a great story involving fall protection harnesses and a literal leap of faith off of a 2-story building.

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Jill:

This is the Accidental Safety Pro, brought to you by Vivid Learning Systems and the Health and Safety Institute, episode number 14. My name is Jill James, David's chief safety officer. And today I'm joined by Dr. Amy Orders, who is in health and safety management at North Carolina State University. Amy, welcome to the podcast.

Amy:

Good morning, Jill. Thanks for having me.

Jill:

So great to have you here today. Amy, you and I met a number of years ago through a higher education safety and health organization that we have both been part of and had an opportunity to present together on training a while ago.

Amy:

We did. Some of my greatest activities and contributions in health and safety have been training and outreach and education. And some of the campaigns and different materials you've been working on have been a wonder to our profession.

Jill:

Thank you for the compliment. Really appreciate that. Amy, as you know, if you've been listening to the Accidental Safety Pro, you know that one of our central questions that we always start with is how any of us came into this profession accidentally understanding that it might not have been our lifelong goal from like, when we were little kids. So I'm interested for you to share with our audience. How is it that you found this practice?

Amy:

Health and safety is by far one of those top 10 pics, as a kindergartner, we all listened it with being an astronaut and being a teacher, and that's what we wanted to do, but it never quite came to fruition. So as an accidental safety professional, I started off in a hospital setting, loving worked with people being in the know, people who are in healthcare situations you always befriend and have good conversation with. Well, I found myself being the person who absorbed every disease they had. Every possible situation I needed a bandaid, I had to do something. And so when I started going home and the dinner conversations recurringly were, “Oh, today I have an itch. Oh, I have an ache. There's a bump. It's a problem.”

I moved from the hospital setting, being a practitioner into more of a support role on the safety side of the desk. And unbeknownst to me, at that time, the vast safety around that I was jumping into I had no idea. So, my background is actually health physics and doing Radiation Safety was where I started nearly 20 years ago. And in that capacity, when you sit behind the desk, the mantra is, radiation is bad, you know, popular press, and then societal cultural on radiation is always what you see in the movies. The Incredible Hulk is bad and big and fearsome because of gamma radiation. Maybe, maybe not. When you look at some of the newer movies that are out The Avengers, and others that are going to be wonderful, absolutely entertaining flicks, there's a little bit of science behind them and how you present that science can be a make or break lessons sometimes to a health and safety professional.

So I started off going into classrooms with a pair of Hulk smash gloves. Imagine a six year old, for Christmas one year my son got a pair of Hulk smash gloves and they were big, oversized, full of enthusiasm type gloves you wear and they had a voice box in them and when you clash them together they make sounds like, "Oh, you are likely me when I'm angry," or, "Oh, I'm the Incredible Hulk." So here I was a new safety professional, I'm four foot 10 inches high and stature but my personality radiates to six foot two. I walk in with these safety gloves and I smash them together and the students look at me going, "What is she doing? I don't understand," and it helped level the playing field because I wasn't the person coming in with, "These are the bad things that safety has to watch out for," no, these are the realities that you see on TV and you think are translated into your workplace. Let's talk about them in the common sense venue, and then maybe talk about them how it applies to you, not just all of us, and then make it very focused. So I made more friends, being an accidental safety professional moving into a authentic learning training environment than I ever thought. And I kept it going for years since.

Jill:

Amy, you're teaching yourself how to be the safety person and human being at the same time in a way that allowed all of us to learn.

Amy:

Absolutely.

Jill:

So how did you figure that out? I mean, it sounds like you were maybe pretty young in your career to make those connections so quickly. How did that work in your head?

Amy:

I think it came from one personality and one in safety. I think you have to have a personality that's a little bit fierce and not in a bad way but in a motivating, invigorating and human way using your word. Part of the conversation of a safety professionals job is to be authentic. Go out, introduce yourself, have a conversation, have something that feels unrestricted, unopposed circumstance that you dialogue. And when you dialogue with someone, they're more apt to ask you questions, because they can relate. You've made it something that was personable, you've made safety individual, and it's amazing how much street cred you build over the years, just having a human approach.

Jill:

Absolutely. You've talked about the Hulk gloves. You've talked about the Avengers. What other superheroes or other things have you used to make those relationships?

Amy:

I think the fun part is, my kids have grown up in the same way I've grown up and in the safety profession. Every time I did something with my children, I would enjoy the moment but I'd also look at it without saying it to them and say, "Oh, yeah, this is probably not the best way to do this." You know, you tell your children, "Don't run with scissors. Don't stand next to the microwave," all those euphemisms. Well, maybe there's some ability to use that for conversation, maybe there's another way to expand that. So what I've done over the years is take what I've learned and do every day, take it to work test driver that work, see what other people are doing. Maybe they have kids who are in the same situations. Maybe we have students in different settings because safety when you think about higher education safety isn't confined to four walls. In fact, four walls might be the minority of the circumstances that we practice safety. And in research settings, if you're talking about something as simple as, "Don't run with scissors," Well, what else that are sharp objects, what else are they doing that we should talk about?

As we've progressed over the years, and I figured out how to make safety something that people can relate to, it's talking about the environment in which they work. So let's talk about some some different examples. In research settings and higher education safety has to be applicable to fields, farms, research settings, the ocean, the mountains, at side of cherry picker, you name it, it really could carry any type of safety setting. And then you have the more traditional lab settings, whether it's a bench top research wet lab, or even now in our technology and infrastructure with more IT focus, there really are considerations. So a safety person needs to be one cognizant and aware of those different circumstances. But then understand how to talk to the people who work in their circumstances. Doesn't mean that you're the content expert and all the regulations as they applied to each of their settings, but you have a way to start the conversation in each of those settings.

In our institutions in higher education students blow things up, tear them down, break them apart, and put them back together in the name of education. So we should be able to stand on the outside and say, "All right, go for it." But let's do it with a little bit of care, and forethought, and premeditation, so we do minimal damage to people, property, and the greater scheme of what we're trying to accomplish.

Jill:

So, Amy, beautiful description. Beautiful description. I'm thinking about how I've done a little bit of that in reverse as I've been preparing things to present in my career. I often started with my son. And I thought if as a little kid, he could understand it and I'd not let him. I invite him to sit and listen to me present on a topic, you know, like across the dinner table and I'd say, "Well, so what do you think the message was?" And if he couldn't relate it back to me in his simplest terms, I'm like, "Okay, I got to start over."

Amy:

That's exactly right.

Jill:

And I'm like, if a six year old can get this and then, you know, as he's grown up he now breaks down my senses and tells me what I'm saying properly and improperly and Mom, "I think you could say this more succinctly." But, bless him for being that kid who's been listening.

Amy:

So, in academics, I took that exact same approach and when I did my doctorate, I decided to make it a practitioner focus, how could I use what we're talking about here. And there are two paradigms in higher education, in adult education that really marry safety to a better context of explanation. One is called Problem Based Learning, and one is called Authentic Learning. Let me delve for a second.

Jill:

Yeah.

Amy:

Problem Based Learning is exactly what you and I are talking about here. We would go into a circumstance where you have a set of these individual cogs, wheels, whatever it is, and you're staring at it from different lenses, right? So the first lens is maybe that of the mom, "How am I going to get all the Legos out of the carpet so people don't trip and fall," or, "The vacuum doesn't suck it up and damage something." And then you're going to take from the lens of my kid just wants to have fun, but can they use their mind when they're building something, and synthesize and reflect and do something just beyond building that truck. If you could take it from a third lens and go, all right from management or the safety perspective, that lens, what do I need? Do they need safety glasses? Do we need some sort of personal protective equipment? What else could be beneficial to that scenario? So when I decided on a research avenue, it really did marry a passion of mine. And it's making safety people, the people in management or perspective representing the safety culture, how do we make them more relatable to people that they talked to? And putting it in circumstances or in scenarios that everyone can relate to me that really effective.

So Problem Based Learning allowed us to say, all right, so we're going to do something like a process hazard review. Simple terms, you're going to go through, you look at the elements that contribute to this process. Here are the 10 things, right? From those 10 things, what has a safety implications? It could be people, property, environment, and you analyze from that perspective. All right, we move to the next step. How do you start an actual process minimizing risks and hazards to everything involved. That's your third component. And then fourth, there is a goal. There is a reason we're doing some sort of hazard or process or working with an equipment that has some sort of possible repercussions. Get rid of all the jargon from our industry and talk about it in layman's terms. I have 10 widgets and gadgets. I gotta put them together and I've gotta make them stay together. And then it's got to be able to move or do something at the end because I'm task to complete X number of widgets and gadgets. So you've made something that was huge safety big bold terms into something people go, "Huh!" and a pen, paper, scissors, and glue. I put the parts together, I pushed the plug into the wall and it's got electricity, I pushed play or go and it worked. And the conversation becomes really cool because people can relate no matter what their scenario or [crosstalk 00:11:53].

Jill:

That's right. Yeah.

Amy:

So you take it a step further. The authentic learning sign is a huge compendium of info and research in the adult education world that says, you know, people take a problem and they either put it together or they break it down. And for the point and context of learning, what can you take away from it. So safety training as a whole is very didactic, someone who stands in the front of the classroom we read PowerPoints for the most part and we tell them how to do things by that regulation. The part that the participant needs is the other side of that coin. You're giving me the regulation it's great I understand what you're saying but how do I apply it? How does that practical essence come into play? So that they can be compliant, but they can also be effective while being safe. Problem Based Learning is really something that you can apply across any safety paradigm to be able to say, "All right, I'm a industry person, A Chemical Safety person," bio, radio logic, it doesn't matter the context applied in a circumstance of the participants on the end of the Safety, Safety Training, safety process, safety SOP writing, can relate and it such a cool way to approach things.

Jill:

So, I wonder if I've been doing that all these years without knowing what the actual terminology was around it, and science behind it. I was just thinking about back to my days when I was with OSHA, I'd be doing an inspection and I would find a hazard, and there were people that were working and exposed to the hazard, I challenge myself every single time to get the people who were exposed with me, like around me, and then talk about why it was a hazard but then why it was a hazard to them, what it could do to them. Then have a conversation and then invite them into asking me questions about the way they were operating or exposing themselves, and I would put out an idea like, here's another way we could do it safely. What are your thoughts? And it would just became this really rich environment where I learned, and they learned, and it appeared that they were buying into it. Was I doing problem based learning and I didn't know it?

Amy:

Yes, you were, you were and you are actually talking the language that's referred to as relationship language.

Jill:

Okay.

Amy:

You we're looking at two different aspects and we all do it unintentionally. It's the accidental safety person in [inaudible 00:14:20] of us that you take an example, you build a relationship around that example. But then you're building a human relationship also that takes it and keeps it going. So yes, you were.

Jill:

Yay, I didn't even know it. Thank you, Amy. Thanks for teaching me something. So, you said there's two different types, problem based learning and then is the other the authentic learning side or is ...

Amy:

It is. It takes it a step further. All of us a safety people are very regard, we're experts in our own bailiwick in our own area, were subject matter experts. A lot of safety is just boring and I don't say that because it's bad, it's a reality. Sometimes regulations are just very dry and unpalatable. So a lot of the times in the conversations like your example where I'm learning boring, where I'm learning how to talk as a safety person with our jargon, and our comfort zone, and our safety parameters, and talking in more of a human relationship quality

Jill:

You mentioned earlier street cred, and building your street cred as the safety profession when we're trying to teach, when we're trying to do Problem Based Learning authentically, where do you think the street cred building comes in with safety professionals? Often I'm asking other safety professionals, like what's some of the craziest stuff you never thought you'd do shoulder to shoulder next to someone in a workplace to build your street cred? Where does that fit into this learning? Assuming it does.

Amy:

So, yes it does 100% and I was laughing because I think all of us have one of those stories. You go, "You won't believe what I did today."

Jill:

Right.

Amy:

So, that street cred I think comes down to a couple of different things it depends on your work setting, where it's appropriate that absolutely the foremost circumstance. If you use an example incorrectly then you're going to lose street cred. I think you need to know your audience. And then the other part is if you're going to talk the talk you should be able to do it also. In higher education, even in K 12 education it's the see one, teach one, or see one, do one, teach one concept. So if you can tell people about it and you can demonstrate it then why not say you could probably do it. The first the first example I had I was probably, good 10 years ago not any taller than I am now and I hadn't facilities group that we were doing fall protection with. They were talking about circumstances about harnesses they need to fit the person, and I'm partnered with a person who is over six feet high, and I'm looking at him thinking, wow, that harness has to fit you and some harness has to fit me, a good solid foot shorter.

So, they said, "Fine are you willing to do an example? Let's show people how it works," and I thought, "Oh, no. What have I done."

Jill:

I'm I jumping off of something today.

Amy:

Exactly.

Jill:

Yeah.

Amy:

So, I agreed, I put on a fall protection harness, I climbed on the top of a two story roof with him and wave to the people below thinking, "I will never get over this." However, proving that you could do the buddy system we always talk about I knew the ins and outs of the fault protection harness, tethering, I could do what I had asked people to participate in the class. The conversations now 10 years later, people still go, "I remember when you were on the roof of that linear accelerator," and I'm like, "Oh, yeah, me too." It brings up great conversation because now people go, "Wow, maybe she'll go and do it." I think everybody has to have some level of, "Let's do this. Let's try this."

Jill:

Right, right. I've done a number of those things as well, but I think my favorite story, I was working in the poultry industry, specifically with turkeys. When turkey semen has to be harvested, it's done manually by individuals whose job title is called "Milker," and yes, that is what you can imagine. The people who do that job many, many, many times a day if you can picture an entire barn full of turkeys suffer from musculoskeletal injuries of the hands, wrist, shoulder, and elbow from the awkward positions that they need to get in.

Amy:

[inaudible 00:18:42].

Jill:

Right, and so I wanted to see what we could do to mitigate some of those long-term illnesses that they were experiencing, so I brought a physical therapist with me into a barn. Then we wanted to understand, "How do they do the mechanics of this?" Partnered with the best Turkey Milker, that is his job title in the barn, and I said, "Teach me," and so he did. First we had to walk into the pen with the birds, and they're giant. These are giant, like as tall as you, Amy. They are huge birds. My first question before walking through the gate was, "Who's the alpha?", and they looked at me and said, "You are." Okay. Then, figuring out how do they pick them up, how do they turn them over, where do they place their hands, how much pressure. Where was their shoulder in relationship to their elbow? It helped me understand their work so much better and the pressures. The physical therapist was able to observe and see and I was able to explain to them, but it also built all this credibility with the employees in the barn that, "Hey, this person actually cares about us."

Then when we were asking them to make modifications to the mechanics of how they did their job, there was a lot easier buy-in because I wasn't coming in saying, "Hey, you should do it this way." I had actually done it and then we practiced it.

Amy:

That's [inaudible 00:20:11].

Jill:

I never thought I would go home from work and say, "Guess what I did to a turkey today?"

Amy:

No, but you know what? I think every one of us that go through and go, "Oh, at work today, you'll never imagine what I got hit with, and this is what I needed to do."

Jill:

Right, and respecting everyone's work is important and valuable.

Amy:

Absolutely. That conversation part is equitable, and I think that's something that safety people have a hard time with sometimes. As an industry as a whole, we walk in and people go, "Oh, it's Health and Safety. Straighten up, put things right."

Jill:

Right.

Amy:

No, we don't want you to straighten up and put things right. We want to be a part of the conversation that got us to "right," and it becomes ingrained. That safety culture concept is hard because it means something different to so many people, and then if you walk in the stigma is, "Oh, oh, oh, there they are. Let's all look pristine today," none of us are ever pristine. We go to work, we get dirty. We get down into the trenches of things. That's the reality of how we do this, so your example, my example, every bit of that completely relatable.

Jill:

So Amy, when you look at safety training today and the different methodologies that are out there, knowing that I think the standard continues to be the boring PowerPoint, unfortunately-

Amy:

[inaudible 00:21:27].

Jill:

Yeah, right? What do you see as delivery systems today that are doing a better job engaging learners in the way that you've been describing, whether it's with human beings or whether it's through technology?

Amy:

It becomes a bit of an esoteric conversation, and you have to know this is a passion of mine, so let me go for a second.

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), please.

Amy:

The conversation starts with "safety has compliance, and it has an expectation." That's great, and how we personify that for different people is really important. What fits for one generation of learner does not necessarily mean it fits for another. Part of that is the safety industry is hampered by time, resources, and money; in a lot of our situations, our work settings don't have an endless budget, although we wish we did, or endless staff that could be available to teach person-to-person and face-to-face. Some of it still needs that level of intensity and one-on-one candor, but a lot of the times, people are also asking for maximum throughput with minimal input. What can you do that gets the best bang for the buck, and can we also entertain our audience while we're doing it? That's a huge undertaking.

Jill:

It is, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amy:

You know, I don't think there's any one answer. That feels somewhat of a cliché answer, but I really think part of the hardest hurdle for safety industry is to find a happy balance. What can you do within the boundaries of your work environment? What have you got as resources, people, expertise, charisma, spunk, and technology?

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amy:

And blend it together. Throw it all in the blender, let's see what we come up with. Some of it is, you have access to technology but does your audience have access to technology. Or, are they in an industry that really embraces learning at a computer? There are some, no way, no how. Your turkey industry, they're not going to come and sit at a computer necessarily to do training. Could you take training to the barn?

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), that's exactly what I did.

Amy:

In those work settings, you just kind of have to do it and go with it.

Jill:

Uh huh, uh huh.

Amy:

I think safety training now has so much opportunity that the balancing act also becomes "embrace technology where it's appropriate, but how much technology is too much?"

Jill:

Right.

Amy:

Do we stilt the learner asking them to [inaudible 00:23:48] another Prezi or PowerPoint or FlipGrid, or any of these wonderful technologies that our younger millennial generations use? They're great. They're entertaining. I also have a moment's pause when I watch K12 education right now. They live and breathe by electronics; the pen and paper is gone.

Jill:

Right.

Amy:

So how much time do we spend balancing teaching computers where they'll come into a workplace and you're still working with other generations of learners that really aren't comfortable in technology, especially to that level?

Jill:

Right.

Amy:

I think it's a harmony; I think you have to find what's most effective for your audience, your setting, and then your learners, and then do a little bit of all of it, if you can. The "Death by PowerPoint," although we joke, it's very effective. If you have just a very curtailed amount of time and you have to have high impact, well maybe that's the best way to do it. If you can deliver it across multimedia, I am all about what can you do beforehand. The flipped learning concept, though, for the safety industry is somewhat hard, but it's still doable. I think if you combine all of that, there is an answer for everybody's setting, audience, and content. You just got to tweak based on what you're dealing with.

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, and don't get yourself pigeon-holed into one particular way of doing it, and really changing it up. Amy, how long have you been in the university setting?

Amy:

With the exception of about two years, my entire career. I keep coming back to academics. In higher education, there is never a lack of innovation, interest, looking for something new, and asking the questions that they do in academics, you always have something that safety can touch, whether it's intangible, informal, or something very formal. I also think that in higher education, we're impacting the generation of next safety professional or people in-

Jill:

Oh yes we are, mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amy:

If we set a tone and we invest in that learning group, well alright, so safety gets stronger, the next generation, the next generation, and they become brand ambassadors. They carry it forward, and whether they realize that we're doing it through like an informal "let's plug in another little thing" or they do a formal safety course, one of the two, I don't think there's any less value in either of them.

Jill:

Right, right, and it is part of STEM.

Amy:

Yes.

Jill:

It's not necessarily talked about there, but it is part of STEM.

Amy:

No, and more and more you have those kids, especially coming into the college setting, whose expectation has been led in STEM because that's their generation.

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative), absolutely. So Amy, you had mentioned you came into the university setting, radiation safety was one of the niche places that you went. Where has that radiation safety taken you? Bring us up to speed on some of the research you've been doing as well.

Amy:

Radiation safety is still my passion. It's what I find most invigorating because part of it doesn't change; part of it is very status quo, but there's another part of it that's very cutting edge. Whether you're talking industry, academics, research, any of those, it has a number of nuances that just have a lot more we could do. I have a, "niche" is not a good word but maybe a "very focused aspect." In my higher education setting, we do not have a human-use hospital but we have a large veterinarian program. Then parallel to that, we have a massive College of Engineering. The unique opportunity that both of those paradigms present is radiation safety in other areas. It's not really the mainstream every day.

Jill:

Okay.

Amy:

What we look at is where industry as a whole is going: next-generation nuclear reactors, next-generation non-destructive testing for airplanes. What are we doing with nano-materials and pharmaceutical deliveries? We look at that from an analytical X-ray type perspective. Then my real passion is, everything that you do in a human-use setting, whether it's diagnostic, therapeutic, or beyond, a lot of that research is founded in the veterinary world, in animal research.

Jill:

Sure.

Amy:

What my project has been, especially the one I'm most bound to right now, has been a focus in radiation safety for veterinary practices. A lot of that world, if you can imagine anything human, we've done it or are doing it with an animal, so linear accelerators, positron emission tomography, computed tomography; you name it, we probably do that in some level of research in higher education. It's, by far, the same challenges and the same vulnerabilities that human-use settings have. I have been working on a working group for the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, and doing presentations that impact on a United Nations level. The 170 member states, i.e. countries, that have the same needs that we do. In very developed countries where we deal with safety in a very precious echelon, we're much more advanced and much more fortunate in a lot of ways. There are just as many member states across the world who are not. They're not as technologically advanced, don't have access to infrastructure, just have a lot of shortcomings that we have been able to either find answers to or work through.

This working group has been three years in the making. We've been developing a safety report that basically under-guards radiation safety for people who work in veterinary practices, all aspects: fields, farms, barns, outside in mobile veterinary clinics, big hospitals, you name it. We have tried to touch on, "What can we do to make these people a little more safe in their work environments, working around a patient setting that will never tell you, 'Oh, that hurts' or, 'Ow, that didn't work?'" A bark and a meow doesn't cut it sometimes.

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Amy:

The more interesting part of this is, if you look at where the impact of veterinary really stretches, well you're talking about the food chain. You're talking about something as fundamental as farm animals, and what happens when you have one case of a detrimental disease that wipes out a food population? Well, you know there's just as much diagnostic and therapeutic needs where radiation impacts that process, whether it's diagnosing the problem or dealing with the problem, that is kind of untouched. We've been working very hard, and the group actually met for its final in-person meeting and presented the findings to the Senior Regulators Meeting in Vienna, Austria in September.

Jill:

Oh my gosh, Amy.

Amy:

I know. It was super exciting to see all these professionals come together.

Jill:

How many of you are in this working group?

Amy:

So this working group is very finite; there were only six of us brought together, and the way it works when you're drafting a safety report of this magnitude is you bring together the content experts who can give the points, and then you put out the draft report to all the member nations to be able to give their input and context and examples, anything and everything that would make this salient to everybody [crosstalk 00:31:06]. Everybody's impacted, make it talk to all countries. It culminated in the presentation to approximately 45 member states in person in Vienna. I have to tell you, Jill, you know how cool it is to have people from different countries look and say, "We hear you, this is something we all need. Can we talk further?"

Jill:

Wow.

Amy:

That's so empowering.

Jill:

Amy, this is so exciting. How many accidental safety pros get to speak and present to the UN?

Amy:

Not many.

Jill:

Not many, not many. Can we back up just a little bit in your work with this?

Amy:

Sure.

Jill:

So six people have been contributing and working three years on how you're doing this. How do six people from, are you the only one from the US? How do you get together?

Amy:

So let's answer multiple questions: I'm the only one in the US because the way Health and Safety in higher education works, we have a tight-knit community.

Jill:

Yes we do.

Amy:

There are two or three associations everybody goes to, participates in, and I had been fortunate to be a part of the governmental structure in one of the associations for higher education and met a number of different working groups. It really becomes, when you talk about networking, you talk to people. I'm going to add a human factor to those conversations; I think that's really important, and you start having these conversations by accident.

Jill:

Yes.

Amy:

"Hey, you did this? Well that's really cool. Can I introduce you to X person who went to Y?" It all comes together. Through the [inaudible 144:44] Society partnering with CSHEMA, or the Campus Safety Health Environmental Management Association, I was able to talk to two different working groups, meet a variety of people who had similar interests and contacts, and put my name in the hat a while ago to say, "I would love to see something of this magnitude to move forward," and I was lucky enough to get selected on this working group.

Jill:

Wow.

Amy:

It was countries around the world; we had Europe, Brussels, London, Paris, South America. A variety of people came to the table at different points in the planning session. It was virtual. Bless shared cloud infrastructure for being able to work on things-

Jill:

Right? Uh huh.

Amy:

And then come together face-to-face and do, you know you imagine computer programmers in a closed room, no windows, powering through for a week?

Jill:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)? Did you do that?

Amy:

Other professionals do that too.

Jill:

Is that what you did?

Amy:

They bring you food. They hide water in the corner saying, "Well let you out every four hours," but it was so empowering to just come down and brainstorm together, talk through it together. It was not all pleasant; it was contentious at times, but you know what? Different opinions, different thinking, different perspectives. You have to embrace all those to get a good working document, and we did it.

Jill:

As a group together, you worked on this three years together and I'm imagining you're huddled in the room with water in the corners. How did you know when were you done? Did you have a deadline or did you just agree that you were going to work until you all felt you were completed with your research and your document?

Amy:

A little bit of both. The in-person meetings, it was [inaudible 00:34:29] important to go and be as productive as possible because there's something about synergies and person, and that was very effective. Imagine that as a moving deadline but you've got the seven days you're in the room together. Be as productive as possible, but the other part of that was taking what we felt was a good document and handing it back, when I say "to the world," it's to the world.

Jill:

Right.

Amy:

It's to all these countries to say, "Does this make sense for you? Do we represent the technologies that are first-generation in your country with the oh-so advanced technologies of this third-generation country?"

Jill:

[crosstalk 00:35:04] understand, yeah.

Amy:

Those moving deadlines, well you had feedback to the terms of hundreds of pages of feedback.

Jill:

Wow. Did you share a common language while you were working together?

Amy:

We did, and it was so empowering to see that the people who had this as their main interest, we had some language barriers but [inaudible 00:35:22], we all had the same goal, and it was really to protect our workforce, to make sure that we were going to help those people, give them practical expertise, some examples, and then some applicability to what we know everyone has. The shared environment really made it so that we could talk the same language regardless of language.

Jill:

Sure. So Amy, take us to Vienna. Were all six of you there?

Amy:

The latest presentation that we did to the member states, there were five of us who presented it, and the idea was to present it from the expert side of radiation safety. The group that put it together, you have to know, is a variety of.

Jill:

Okay,

Amy:

The group that put it together, you have to know is a variety of radiation safety professionals, practitioners who are radiation per se safety professionals, veterinarians as a whole, just the people who actually go and do the job. That was important because you represented all the different stakeholders. Everyone had a voice and so when we presented it to the member nations, we presented it from the perspective of regulatory. What is the need? What is the regulation? And then, how as practitioners do we think you could implement this better? All of us has implemented something, but could you do it a little more effectively or application extension? And so that presentation was a panel, a series of very short, very matter of fact presentations, held and finished out with a Q&A session.

The Q&A session was really eye opening because what you think when you go into these big massive working groups is, oh, we have to be very professional, very academic sounding. No, in fact, go the opposite. They want to hear that you had the same basic needs, same basic understandings that they do and they wanna know how you were able to get to a possible resolution. The exact answer in layman's terms. That to me was just fantastic.

Jill:

The Q&A present a baseline.

Amy:

Yes.

Jill:

More or less for you to be ... Yeah. Interesting. So 170 countries that were listening to you and a Q&A and the Q&A was ... it was also, I'm guessing the time where you kind of held your breath and wondered did they get it? [crosstalk 00:37:41]. Or what are they gonna give and I'm assuming is the pic ... the picture I have in my head is everyone with the little earbuds in their ears with people who are doing translation interpretation while you're all speaking.

Amy:

Yes. That's exactly what it was.

Jill:

So is that another reason why you were very brief in what your statements were? So that it could all be-

Amy:

translated effectively? Yes. It was as you would see on popular press photos, you go into the chamber and there is a tiered chamber and everybody has their country name plate in front of them and a microphone that you ask permission to speak and it's very rigorous and sort of a very controlled and effective environment and sitting in the front of the room, Jill, you see the different stickers on the back wall saying Channel One English, Channel to Arabic channel three French. And am like wow, it's really cool.

Jill:

Wow. Just professionally Amy, Is that A high point for you?

Amy:

That to me was so humbling to not say necessarily that I am the radiation safety person, but then I could contribute as a voice in that need. And then hearing the other people from all different countries, all different walks of need and life and perspective. Come in and go. "Yep, I know that topic. And I like that Somebody else has that same problem because boy, do we need an answer." That to me? Yes. It's a high point.

Jill:

That is so wonderful. Congratulations.

Amy:

Thanks.

Jill:

That is so cool.

Amy:

It was by far the best ... one of the best come together activities as a safety person. You never think you're going to do that. You come to work go and all right, today, what can we impact on my little microcosm?

Jill:

So can you give our audience an idea of any like one finding, one thing that you, that you presented on, that's shifting the dynamic or informing, veterinary radiation?

Amy:

They take away [inaudible 00:39:38] that we as a working group has put together is communication. And it sounds cliche because all of us say we could all communicate better. So what we were saying as a finding is that you need to communicate very effectively for the people who are listening. In veterinary radiation safety world, you often bring in members of the public, a dog owner, you might need assistance or a horse in a pasture. It takes a larger number of people to actually radiograph a horse because someone has to hold the horse and someone has to hold the equipment. So you go very granular. Well, everybody who participates in that group to make that extra way possible has a different role, a different level of education, a different participation level and when you do safety communication, can you talk to the veterinarian who has a terminal degree, very highly educated to the person who's a dog or a pet owner? That's really important.

Jill:

Who's just worried about their animal-

Amy:

Exactly.

Jill:

... and wants to comfort them.

Amy:

Right, and making sure when you take safety out of the workplace that you're impacting the general public. Well, that's a whole different dynamic. You need to make sure that the general public doesn't have a fear factor. Are you really working in their best interests? So it's a different stretch of taking safety and really overlapping multiple audiences and when you communicate to them, you really have to know. "Hi, this is what we're doing, your animal's fine we're going to work in your best interest, but we want to make you safe as well." And that's a big deal.

Jill:

Yeah it is. So is your working group essentially complete or are you starting the next thing together?

Amy:

So you know, it never quite finished as itself. At the end of our last presentation, one, it's been such a really interesting process. We realized that people in the room that we were presenting to have the same desire to go to the next step. "If you can tell us how we can make things better, can you help us write training or give us authentic learning that would help us move this forward?" And since it was a really a sum of disparate parts, if you put the different expertise and perspectives and experience together that came together to write this document. We're volunteering not necessarily in a formal fashion but as a continuation of the safety report to help put together some training. And whether it's informal training and here's just a talking point set of topics or something like a video set or a podcast set or a powerpoint. You know there's a need because I think the harmony between, if we use the same language and the use of the same themes over and over, we get better by in longterm.

So, although the working group is fairly finished at this point, it has a few more little components. We think that it will never completely finish, that we need to empower other safety professionals and maybe we can help extend the dialogue, not necessarily to be with people, but to help carry the thematic need forward.

Jill:

Yeah, and provide some tools for them to continue matching themselves. Wonderful. So, I understand you're doing some writing as well, Is this what you're talking about with regard to continuing to write? Are you launching yourself into a whole new realm of writing ?

Amy:

Two aspects. One is that for fun, let's do this because it's really a nice topic and the other side is the Professional. So, in my safety perspective, when you take the 20 hats that we all wear, I find myself coming back to the uncommon denominator in the part that I love most. And it's having my conversation about you're a safety professional, how do you do that? All of us, for the most part are unintentional safety professionals, we use the accidental and you come into the conversation of you're really good at what you did. Did anybody teach you how to teach? Did anybody teach you how to present? Did anybody teach you how to be a communicator? And we struggle. Good intentions, great people. We can maximize that a little bit more, so I naturally liked to tinker. I like to play the technologies and innovations and if I'm going to a training class, I want to touch something and be a part of something and the hands on learning, authentic learning, problem based learning.

There aren't a lot of safety professionals who can have that conversation and so the fun part of what I'm doing is coming up with, are there two [inaudible 00:44:09] I can support? There are technologies out there, there are different ways and approaches. Maybe we can just empower people to be a little more creative because naturally majority of us don't feel creative and it's harder to come up with something novel or unique to teach and it is powerpoint.

Jill:

Right. Because not everyone is going to immediately think about the hulk gloves.

Amy:

The exact point. Or you just don't feel comfortable in your own skin. You stand up in the front of the room and you're paralyzed. "How will I do this?" So part of that is there's a small group within [Shima 00:44:44] Professionals that we've been talking about. How do you go and roleplay? How do you teach somebody or just give them the tools to even consider roleplay or conversation or case studies? You know, some of the things that have been around in safety for years, but now move them into technology. Can you do something on your phone? Everybody has a phone. What can you do with it? So we're talking about building a toolbox. I was a part of a compliance administrative handbook writing crew about three years ago and I realized when I helped write that chapter on radiation safety that even other parts of our organizations don't understand what safety does, they understand that it impacts them. My chair fits better, So that's ergonomics. There's a posting in the hallway, the floor's wet.

All right, so what is the next thing that the safety people do? Because if you don't know what to ask, how will you know what they can give you? So part of this is really clamoring to have a conversation. Maybe it's as simple as I'm going back to my kids again, my daughter has a conversation box and it's little like fortune cookie strips in this box and it's like to have conversations in some of her social clubs set for school. They have conversation starters, so her debate team does this. They have a box, here are the 25 topics, you reach in, you grab a topic, go! What if you did that with people who know their safety left' right' up, down, every direction and say, "tell us about it, but don't use any big words."

Jill:

Right. That's beautiful.

Amy:

But you've got to make people comfortable with it to make it happen.

Jill:

And how many of us haven't been to any kind of ... some kind of training session about how to network and you're given those cues, you know, like the word [wit 00:46:33] and what does the W stand for and you're gonna start a conversation with someone, where do you live? What is your home like? Yeah. And do it for safety. How brilliant is that? And I think that so helps level the playing field with people to talk about it as well because I think too often one of the cliches that people fall into with regard to safety is that it's common sense and that people should know and that it's ... this is something like, "why wouldn't you know that was a hot or a live electrical part?" Like, "who wouldn't know that?" Well, frankly, a lot of people don't. Yeah. And so being able to ask those questions that kind of dig it deeper.

Amy:

The professional side of that is take it a step further join forces with somebody. So if you work in higher education world, you touch every aspect. In industry, it might be very focused aspects that health and safety really have a focus [inaudible 00:47:35]. In our world, our campus. You could touch so many different populations. What if you ask them what they do, how simple a conversation starter? For years, I remember the team building exercises, you take a roll of toilet and you tell people take as much as you want. They and take 25 pieces and for each square, you suddenly say, okay, "now give me a cool fact about yourself" and you're like, "Oh my word, if I had known that I would've taken one."

So have the same conversation. We walk across the street to research administration type individuals and say, "what do you do?" and when they start talking about it, anytime you ask a person to talk about what they do or what they want to do, they will keep going.

Jill:

Yes they will.

Amy:

And you absorb, you gonna learn so much more and as a safety person. You take notes and then you go, okay, I can impact points 1,7,17,77.

Jill:

Exactly. And you're honoring their tribal knowledge as well.

Amy:

Exactly. And so that comfort factor takes you further. You going back to that language of relationships, you're having a humbling setting where they are subject matter experts in their own expertise or they'll be like I'm not, but maybe I can help and extend what I need to do just because you've taken a moment to share your room so that joining forces as a big deal

Jill:

Right, it sounds like you have a lot of next things happening, Amy.

Amy:

I think that's my personality. I keep the next thing going because it's so much fun and by the time you share some of that enthusiasm, you hope that you spark that infectiousness and it keeps going and people just wanna be a part of it.

Jill:

Yes. That's ... I think that's common in our practice and it's common among some of our personality types as well. I'm always looking ahead to the next thing. Like, what's it going to be next? How are we going to engage next, and it's so fun to be able to be working with a fellow safety professionals and in this setting as well with our podcast and being able to share with our audience how we all go about this job so differently. Yet, there's these really common themes that continue to come out, which is, it appears to be after episode number 14, making those human connections and how valuable those human connections are to the practice that we do and enabling us to do our work and sending people home safe same way they came at the beginning of the day. Amy, Wondering as we start to close out our time together, if there's any particular advice that you'd have for safety professionals who are listening today. Maybe someone who's just starting out or maybe someone who's been at this job a really long time.

Amy:

I think part of safety is reminding everyone to be a part of the conversation, to reinvent yourself with what you're trying to support. You know, safety takes different echelons of people to make it successful and it's a humbling experience and you have to be humble to be a safety professional in every level, advanced practitioner, management, the new person coming in the door. I think part of humbling is heading that human [inaudible 00:50:51] factor is having conversations that were really good at what we do, but if people don't understand what we do or don't find the value add, it's really hard to make that conversation carry forward and safety culture is the mantra most of us come back to, to say we're trying to create a very strong fabric of safety that people come and go, they talk when they come to work, they leave with the same human factor and safety that they [inaudible 00:51:16] I think you have to remember that your entire career, that the perspectives from each part of your professional journey, they impact the people that we're serving, that we're supporting, and it is humbling at every level.

Jill:

It is and there is no coasting in our career. Yeah, exactly. Amy, thank you so much for the time that you've spent with us today. Greatly appreciate it and congratulations again to ... on your work. And so, looking forward to seeing how it changes literally the face of the planet.

Amy:

Oh, we're excited. This will be a great experience. And your series I think is gonna be an excellent way to reach people with more of this conversation. So thank you again for having me.

Jill:

You're welcome. And thank you all so much for joining in and listening today and thank you for the work that you all do to make sure your workers, including your temporary workers, make it home safe everyday. You can listen to all of our episodes at vividlearningsystems.com or subscribe in the podcast player of your choosing. If you have a suggestion for a guest, including yourself, please contact me at social@vividlearningsystems.com. Until next time, thanks for listening.