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#43: Roadhouse and Dr. Phil

November 20, 2019 | 58 minutes 49 seconds

Podcast series host Jill James speaks with Jason Lucas, creator on #SocialMediaSafetyMinute. Today, Jason is an experienced safety professional who’s served in a few high-risk industries. Jason lives in the field, with the workforce, every day. He’s also a prolific content creator across social platforms, known for his characteristic authenticity. When he made the career-defining move to occupational safety, his first approach was that of the classic “Safety Cop”. Along the way, he learned the difference between building relationships and building walls. You’ll learn how Jason’s early experiences inform his personal, candid—and super successful—approach to our social media safety community.

Transcript

Jill:

This is The Accidental Safety Pro brought to you by Vivid Learning Systems and the Health & Safety Institute, episode number 43. My name is Jill James, Vivid's chief safety officer, and today I'm joined by Jason, who is a safety professional in the oil and gas industry and is also the content creator of the Social Media Safety Minute. Jason is joining us today from Houston, Texas. Jason, thanks for being a guest.

Jason:

Oh, thank you so much for having me on, Jill. I really enjoy this.

Jill:

Well, you and I have been going back and forth for a couple of months talking with one another through LinkedIn. I was intrigued by some content that you had written about being a safety cop, and it got-

Jason:

Oh, yeah. I remember that.

Jill:

Yeah, and it got my attention. It got my attention. So if people who are listening are thinking, "How do we find these guests?" Sometimes it's exactly like that. I read something, it catches my eye, and I'm like, "This person seems interesting, and I want to talk with them." So I appreciate you being on the show.

Jason:

Oh, it's my pleasure. I think this is going to be a wonderful conversation.

Jill:

Great. So Jason, as we do with everyone, interested to hear your story. How did you get into safety, how long you've been at it, what's your path?

Jason:

I got into safety by accident. Sorry, that was just a joke towards-

Jill:

We have so many puns with that.

Jason:

It was a decision that I made. I had a friend that did not like wearing his fall protection correctly. He liked to keep leg straps real loose. He felt like it was uncomfortable when you had on tight. At this time, I was in project management in the oil and gas industry and dealing with large turnarounds and things that nature. My friend who liked to wear loose leg straps fell from a structure, and the leg strap moved into an area that is very personal and ended up getting injured. I was there. I heard his screams. When I heard that, I said, "I could probably help in this industry a little bit. I think there's more that could be done to keep people safe, and I should have done my job better at making sure that he did that. From a safety role, I could do that a little bit better."

So I went to my boss at the time, and I asked him if there was any room in safety, could I roll from project management into safety. They thought that was a great idea. So I rolled into safety at that point and very abruptly became a safety cop. It took me a little bit of time to realize that that path was not working, that being a safety cop was not getting anything accomplished the way that it needed to be accomplished.

Jill:

Yeah. So Jason, when you say you became a safety cop, and for many people listening, some of us know that. Well, some of us have either experienced it or have been at ourselves. So what did that mean for you when you... How do you think you were a safety cop?

Jason:

I was so set on enforcement. I was so set on trying to find what people were doing wrong. I didn't focus ever on what they were doing right because I was only focused on what they were doing wrong. That's what I see rode in on. I had a little thought process that I like to share, which is, what you're looking for you're going to find. I was looking for the problems, and that's all I was finding. I was really abrupt. I was very short, and I was not a very nice guy in relation to enforcing these safety issues.

Jill:

Do you think that, Jason, some of that maybe came from the fact that you witnessed your friend having a pretty tragic event happen to them and that one adjustment could have made things better, right?

Jason:

Yeah.

Jill:

So do you think that drove some of your passion early on?

Jason:

Yeah, it did. It wasn't just that. It was also fear because I was not the safest guy in operations. So, one, were they going to take me seriously when I got into safety? Two, were they going to listen? Because they're making me do unsafe things. So they knew that I wasn't the safest worker. So I think I felt like the enforcement really pushing it in the front side would make them listen. Instead of building relationships from that standpoint, I was building walls, I think.

Jill:

Yeah. Makes sense. Makes sense in hindsight. Right? So-

Jason:

Oh, absolutely.

Jill:

How long did it take you to figure out the safety cup stick wasn't going to be effective?

Jason:

Well, Jill, I'm a slow learner. It took me probably about two years and a conversation with one of my supervisors that refocused my efforts. The supervisor said, "Jason, if you would take some time to listen to what they have to say, they're really good at what they do and then actually give you some ideas on how they could do it safer. And then you won't have to be looking and finding ways you'll know." At first, I was like, "Who are you to tell me how to do my job? I know how to do my job." Then when I sat and thought about it a little bit, he was right. It was definitely something that I needed to do to build trust, build those relationships. And it took time. I mean, it wasn't like, one day I was a safety cop, next day I was making content on LinkedIn about how we need to build relationships or anything new across this.

Jill:

Yeah. Right. Right. But I mean, it's a really good example of that adage, get out of your own way. Right?

Jason:

Yes, absolutely.

Jill:

As soon as you figured out how to get out of your own way and listen, yeah, that's magic. That's magic. That's where the magic happens.

Jason:

Yeah. It made all the difference in the world. I think I kind of rolled from safety cop over to the safety coach, I guess one set, to where it was like, "Okay, yeah. Let's look at these opportunities for improvement. But at the same time, let's look for something positive to share with them as well, and let's coach them up on the things that they need to be coached up on, and let's praise the things that need to be praised." Then it took a little bit of time. It's kind of been more recent that I've rolled from safety coach to safety mentor, which is trying to expand that even further to people that may not be directly related to business.

Jill:

Yeah, right. So your growth was the cop to the coach to the mentor? That's pretty-

Jason:

Yes.

Jill:

Yeah, that's pretty cool. So what's the difference between a coach and a mentor, do you think?

Jason:

Coaching, that's more of a hands on, I'm out in the field, boots on the ground coaching the guys up on how they can do what they do better. Mentor is, let me tell you how you can do what I do a little better. It's not just safety professionals that I do attempt to mentor. It'd also going to be guys in the field that are interested in safety, people that are still going through college to get safety degrees. It's really trying to pour into the industry as a whole and in the world of safety.

Jill:

Yeah. Yeah. Makes sense. Makes sense. So in your career path then when you got that first safety job after you were a project manager and you asked to have a role in safety was that in the oil and gas industry back then? Was that a-

Jason:

It was. It was.

Jill:

It was. Okay, okay. So have you stayed in that field your whole career so far?

Jason:

Yeah. Yeah. Actually, I've really been dealing with refineries and plants and just oil and gas as a whole. Majority of my career, I've done upstream and downstream, both sides of it. But majority of my safety career has been that I did some consulting that kind of took me out of that a little bit into market and manufacturing. That wasn't necessarily related to oil and gas. So that was fun. Yeah. There's a whole new way of looking at things when you get into manufacturing that's not necessarily the same as oil and gas.

Jill:

Right, right, right. So you said you were the safety cup for two years. Then did you make a job transition somewhere around then to a different place of employment?

Jason:

Yeah. Actually, it was probably right around that time that I started making job changes along with it that would better utilize me as a safety coach than as a safety cop. I think that there was a... I think there was a desire for me to be a little hard-nosed at the first company that I was at because of the issues that they were having. That was our expectation was that safety was going to be very hard-nosed. As my mindset started shifting, I wasn't quite as welcomed corporation-wise from the standpoint of that you're not doing what we want you to do as safety. We want to know what people are doing wrong. We want to know it now.

Jill:

Yeah, right. More of a punitive approach.

Jason:

Absolutely.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. So what did that second job look like for you?

Jason:

That was actually my first consulting job. So I kind of had moved into operations along with safety consultation duties. It was pretty interesting because going into manufacturing and dealing with problems that have already occurred and how to fix them for the next time, that was probably my primary duties was to fix a problem that maybe OSHA had already been called. Somebody had come out and help prep them for the investigation that was coming and put some things in place to make sure that they were prepared for the next time.

Jill:

Ah, yes. Okay. So what do you remember about that time that sort of was like, "Whoa, I didn't expect that in manufacturing"? Something that was so different than what you knew of oil and gas?

Jason:

Oil and gas, they're like... Every plant or every refinery is like a mini OSHA. They all have their own... They are so centered in and prepared on safety rules and regulations that are [inaudible] that sometimes people who work within these companies or within these refineries, they're so strapped down with safety rules and regs that they sometimes think that it's not necessarily that refineries rule, but it's an OSHA rule because probably a lot of mistakes of like, well, OSHA says... No, no. Actually, OSHA doesn't say that. OSHA says this, but-

Jill:

It's internal.

Jason:

Well, this refinery says do it, so we're going to do it. But it's not an OSHA thing. Then rolling into consulting in a manufacturing world was a whole different animal because they didn't have those things in place. So you could always tell that just driving down the road and look at a roofing company, not key roofing companies, but that's the primary thing we see construction-wise as safety people when we're driving down the road. We're like, "Oh wow, what did they buy?"

Jill:

Yeah. Fall protection. Scaffolding. Yeah. I mean, because it's hanging right out there for our eyes to observe and see.

Jason:

Absolutely. So you see those things and you're like, "How could they possibly do that?" If you're coming from a mindset of oil and gas and working in these refineries, you're like, "Where is their culture? They have no safety culture." Well, they may not have any knowledge, actually. The lack of culture just may be a lack of knowledge. So moving into the manufacturing world, there were a lot of things that were just low-hanging fruit that I was pretty surprised by.

Jill:

Yeah. Right, right, right. Yeah, I bet. Been there, done that. It's kind of like starting. It's often starting over or starting fresh, making no assumptions about what people know first of all and starting there before you can even talk about something like a culture.

Jason:

Yeah. I think that you have to come in there with a fresh mindset, and you have to be willing to listen to what they do know before you start making assumptions of what they know.

Jill:

Right, right. So you stuck around consulting for a while. Then did you come back to oil and gas, or how did that work?

Jason:

Yeah, yeah. I came back into oil and gas with the Crane Company. I did a short little stint with general contractors and working on some different smaller projects, corrosion under insulation projects, where I would be able to contract us from a safety standpoint, things like that. Then I rolled into... Because I guess I had impressed some folks with my consulting work, I ended up getting hired to one of my former consulting clients, a crane company, and I went to work for them direct and started in my life in the crane world.

Jill:

That's an intense industry.

Jason:

Oh, wow. Yeah. Yeah. It is, especially if you come in with your only knowledge of crane operators. They're the only ones allowed to sleep during the turnaround, and that's your sole knowledge of it. It was a bit of a learning curve for me going into that industry. I knew how to set up in PQF, prequalification sites and things like that, but actually learning what they do and how they do it and why they do it the way they do it, that was a big learning curve when I first started on.

Jill:

Yeah. So how did you teach yourself about crane safety? Did you take a class somewhere, or how did you do that?

Jason:

I took it upon myself to be mentored while there and not just be a mentor to them about safety, but allow them to mentor me about how the crane industry worked. Before going in and making a bunch of changes, I tried to build relationships first. Okay. I'm not going to make any changes until I know exactly what they do, why they do it this way, and build those relationships, and then I'm going to utilize them kind of as a focus group to see what changes need to be made, how we can make them the most effectively, and then start working towards making those changes.

Jill:

Yeah. Right. So you've mentioned previously when you had been coached to be a listener and to do a little more introspection, and now you're talking about this part of your career where you're taking time to learn from people, and I 100% agree with that. I've practiced that my entire career as well, where you're asking employees, "Tell me about your work. Tell me how you do this. Show me how you do this. Teach me about your craft." It is really powerful. But maybe talk more about what that's done for you professionally. For people who are listening who are like, "I don't even know how I'd start doing that with someone," can you talk about that process?

Jason:

No, absolutely. I always try to remember that God has given us two ears and one mouth. So if you listen twice as much as you speak, you'll learn something. So you have to get out there. You have to get out to where the work is being performed. You have to sit with them for a little bit. You have to listen to problems that may not even be related to work. It may just be a personal issue that they just need to get off their chest. But you have to be willing to listen to that and show a little bit of empathy with what they're dealing with because a lot of the work that we take a look at as safety professionals, it's not easy work.

We're hindering them by putting additional PPE on them, and there's so many other things that if we found just maybe a more comfortable piece of PPE that would make their life easy. Maybe if you just listen, they can tell you, "You know what, these gloves, I can't even feel anything. I can't get any grip with these gloves, feel the parts." You're like, "Wow, let's take a look at some other gloves. So let's take a look at some other options, some other avenues." When you build that relationship, when you take that time to listen to what they're struggling with, they're going to be more apt to come to you later with a safety issue that they may be facing.

Jill:

Right, right. I think those are really good tips for people who are just starting out in the job or really young, and you're trying to build your credibility to be that listener first and ask those questions and show me and teach me how you do this can really be empowering for your work too.

Jason:

Yeah. There's kind been three mottoes ever since I've had this mind shift that I tried to follow that anybody who reports to me directly, I want this to be a part of their DNA. So I'll usually try to push these mottoes on them as well. One of them is you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. So a kind word is going to get more done than a harsh word. So I always try to remember catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

The second one is coach don't cop. So that was kind of formed in my safety coaching timeframe of remember why you're there. Remember the reasoning that you're trying to help them out. The third one I'll admit I stole directly for Road House, which is I'm nice until nice don't work. Yeah [crosstalk 00:19:07]-

Jill:

Okay. Repeat that one more time.

Jason:

I'm nice until nice don't work. It's from the movie Roadhouse [crosstalk 00:19:16]-

Jill:

Yeah, I remember it.

Jason:

But it's a good reminder that there are... I would say probably 95% of the people you deal with, if you can build relationships and show some kindness with them, you'll get the results that you're looking for.

Jill:

Yeah, right. Kindness matters.

Jason:

Then there's that 5%. So eventually, you have to say nice isn't working. So now, move it a little bit more into the unfortunate, more into disciplinary. I'm a firm believer that safety should not be the issuers of disciplinary, but I do believe that we can recommend disciplinary action operations who could make that happen.

Jill:

Right, right. Yeah, I agree with that too. We are going to have that 5%. So yeah. So the question is, what do we do with that? I think you've just given some solid advice there. I've been coached by a mentor many years ago when talking about that 5% as well as is really acknowledging that, A, you're going to have it. Then B, even if they're going to go kicking and screaming the entire time, your job is to get them to feel like, "Well, I'm still going to hate it, but I'm going to do it because, otherwise, I'm going to be sitting out here all by myself. So I'm just going to come with everybody anyway." I'm still not going to like it. I'm going to grudge about it. But we're going to shift them over there.

Jason:

They're definitely going to grudge about it. That is true. But I've found that that 5%, if you can get them on board, if you can find what their-

Jill:

Their why maybe?

Jason:

Yeah, their why, what their currency is.

Jill:

Yeah. Oh, yes. Their currency. Okay.

Jason:

If you can find what their currency is, what matters to them, it may be their kid's softball game. If you take that time to listen to them, even if they're your 5%, hey, go to a kid softball game, I promise you, you have that person onboarding. You know what, softball game may be fine.

Jill:

That is excellent. I love how you framed that. What is their currency?

Jason:

Thank you, Dr. Phil.

Jill:

So now, we're quoting Road House and Dr. Phil.

Jason:

I'm a plethora of useless folks.

Jill:

So am I in the world of strength's finder. Gosh, there's an actual strength that's built around that, people that collect quotes and sayings and things. It kind of-

Jason:

It's collector.

Jill:

Is it collector?

Jason:

Yeah [inaudible 00:22:03]-

Jill:

Anyway, I'm definitely guilty of that.

Jason:

That's awesome.

Jill:

I was also raised by a woman who speaks the language of cliché.

Jason:

Oh, nice.

Jill:

So that helps.

Jason:

Nice.

Jill:

So I have a lot of clichés up my sleeve. So Jason, continue with your career path. What happened next?

Jason:

So I stayed in the crane industry for a little under a decade. Yeah. There was some changes in some leadership and some oversight that was a little different than I was prepared to be a part of. So I started on my job search. I found the company that I worked for now. Man, safety is so important to what they do, and they take it so seriously. So just like a breath of fresh air to get over here and be like, "Wow, I'm just flabbergasted that you guys take it this seriously. Revision is onboard, management is on board. Everybody just wants to find the safest way to do it. It's not a safety company. So being able to see that and what you do, that's phenomenal.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. So Jason, what's your favorite thing about the work?

Jason:

Changing lives? I absolutely love when somebody comes up to me maybe after a safety meeting, after a safety training or maybe just after a conversation that we had while we were walking around in the shop area of the field, and they're just like, "You know, Jason, what you said really made sense, and I'm going to insert what they're going to change here." To have that type of feedback, it means something. I tell my people all the time, take it home with you. What you've learned here, take it home with you.

So some of my favorite stories that I get from the guys and gals is that, "Oh man, my son was mowing the lawn, and I put safety glasses on him." That matters. That matters to me because something is changing, not just at work, but something's changing in their life. They're getting it.

Jill:

Yeah, right. So for anyone who follows you on social media specifically with the Social Media Safety Minute and listen for any amount of time, much of what you're talking about has to do with kind of that big topic of culture and safety cultures, or for that matter, just a healthy workplace culture. It doesn't necessarily have to be safety. You were talking about before about just being a listener and treating people rather with respect. But if we back up in our field just the little bit, there is a cliche that safety is a necessary evil and that some employers and employees consider it that necessary evil. What do you think that does for us as a profession and how do you see your work now in being able to impact that cliché, if you will?

Jason:

Well, safety is necessary, but it's not a necessary evil. When you start framing the conversation in safety as a necessary evil, then we become the villains. When safety becomes the villains, then there's a trust issue from every person in the field. Whether there's a trust issue from every person in the field, guess who's not reporting issues? The people in the field because they're like, "Why would I report that to villain?" I'm the hero of this story. If you have a mindset that safety is evil or even a necessary evil, then the company is not taking advantage of an amazing resource. As safety professionals, we have some resources that may not be available or known about by anybody in operations.

I've always prided myself on the fact that I may not know the answer, but I know where to find it. I think that's kind of something every safety person needs to have in their mindset. I may not know the answer right away, but I can find it. I'm going to let you know and [inaudible] and make sure that they do. But being cast as the villain, it's just going to have a negative impact on the company culture as a whole, definitely on the safety culture.

Jill:

So if that evil moniker is starting at the top of the organization maybe because a management system or team doesn't know, like they don't understand the work or maybe they've had you know an experience in the past that maybe was simply with a safety cup, what advice would you give someone who's listening now who maybe has that and they're at the top of their organization? How can they help shift that to start making that change?

Jason:

I think the first thing that they have to do is they have to... One, I think you're correct that a lot of the time, the reason that upper management or management as a whole feel that way is because of some safety professional that was a safety cop in the past or just was out loved to did have gotcha moments and things like that. So the first thing you have to do is, one, prove that you're not the same, that you're not that person, and that's done by action. That's done by just time. That's done by being trustworthy. It's done by showing integrity. It's done by caring about the people.

Then if it comes to a head, then you simply may have to say it verbally. "You're holding me accountable for something that somebody else did, and I'm not that person. You give me the ability to prove who I am." Then we can worry about my performance. But now, I'm not that person. Now, that's not always the easiest conversation to have. Actually, if your just starting off in safety, you're probably scared to death to have that conversation.

It's funny because I was told early in my career, you need some more gray hair on your head before you can be in charge of safety. At the time I was like, "Man, this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. I run the safety in this company, and I know everything I need to know about safety, and blah, blah, blah." He was so right because he wasn't talking about... It was perception. It wasn't necessarily just experience. It wasn't necessarily just knowledge. It was the perception of the people that I was speaking to.

As a young safety professional, I may have had all the programs in the world that would fix any issue. Problem was there wasn't trust there because I didn't take the time to build it. I just came in as a young gunslinger trying to make it happen. So patience is probably the best advice I could give is patience, be trustworthy, have integrity. By saying have integrity is be the same across the board. If you're going to enforce something with one person, enforce it with everybody. If you're going to give an attaboy to one person for something, give it to every person you see that does that be the same? Be consistent.

Jill:

Yeah. For those hard conversations with management structures, especially when you're new and you're like, "Ooh, this is sort of scary to have. Am I going to put my job on the line if I'm bold and say, 'Hey, listen'?" One way to frame it I guess that worked for me, a job that... I don't know, two jobs ago, I had been hired as a safety professional. I may have told this story in the podcast before. I can't remember. The leadership rather knew me as that person who was a former regulator that was the OSHA lady. They were really nervous. Yeah. They were really nervous about hiring me. They also had never had a safety professional before. So they were asking me a lot of questions, like, "Ooh, should we do this or not? What's going to happen here? Are we hiring the safety cop?"

The conversation that I had with them gently was that I would work very closely with them and hard with them to understand their shades of business gray and that I would promise them that I would not see things in neither black nor white, but we'd work together to come to an understanding as to what was reasonable to do for their business and understanding it. Then I said, "However, there will likely be times where there will be a line in the sand, and you will not push me over that because-

Jason:

Wow, that [crosstalk 00:31:51]-

Jill:

... I won't let this happen on my watch." I said, "When that occurs, I will tell you, 'Line here.'" They said, "Okay. yeah, okay. We think we can deal with that." There were actually a couple of times where I had to say, "Do you remember that conversation? The line is here. I will not cross this."

Jason:

Nice. See, and that's setting expectations from the beginning. That's another very important part. If you're coming into a company new to go to management and say, "Okay, look, I want to meet or exceed your expectations." If you can tell me what those expectations are, I'll meet them or exceed them. If you don't give me expectations, I'm going to do the best that I can to meet an unspoken expectation. There's a lot of... It'll be some frustrations here. What you shared with them was you lined out that expectation. It's going to come a time where there's going to be a line in the sand, and we're not going to cross that line. Then later on, when you didn't have to, or when you had to remind them of that conversation, I'm sure it was a lot easier for them to go, "You know what, she's right."

Jill:

Yeah, right. It was that like, "Oh, we're at DEFCON 4 now.

Jason:

Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

Jill:

This must be something we have to pay attention to.

Jason:

Why didn't they think of this before?

Jill:

Right. All right. Well, that was a really good piece of advice about setting expectations. So I guess for people who are listening, maybe starting in a new job, if that hasn't been set, really have that heart to heart conversation with whomever it is that you're reporting to an ask. Ask that.

Jason:

Yeah, absolutely.

Jill:

I really love what you said about telling people you're an amazing resource. That's true. That's true of all safety professionals. We can be amazing resources, and we have this collective network among us, where if we don't know it, somebody in our network will.

Jason:

Oh, yeah. That's a guarantee. I can't tell you how many times I've reached out. Maybe it was through ASSP, or it was through a LinkedIn. Linkedin is probably where I have zero problem at all direct messaging another safety professional and go, "Hey, have you dealt with this before? How did you handle it? Or what study guide did you use for that?" So you start that by interacting and building those relationships even on social media. But I can tell you there's never been a safety person that I've reached out to, whether I have a relationship with them or not, that wasn't willing to jump right in and help out any way they can. That's one thing that I absolutely love about the safety community, is there's just such a desire to make sure that people go home safely [inaudible] and hold stuff close to their vest. If I have any ways of doing something safe, I want to share it, I want to shout it from the rooftops.

Jill:

Right. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. That is the fun part of our profession for sure. Yeah. So, people who are listening, you need help, you need resources, reach out to anybody, any one of us. I always find it sort of interesting that LinkedIn seems to be the place that we all gravitate to, but it is.

Jason:

It is.

Jill:

There are many groups of safety professionals out there. Yeah. I don't think I've ever a safety professional turn me down when I've asked a question or asked for help and resources

Jason:

I've had one say, "I don't really know, but reach out to so-and-so. I think they've dealt with that."

Jill:

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Cool. So, Jason, I would love to hear more about your progression in what you're talking about now and being a safety mentor. How are you living that out, and what do you see for this chapter of your career now?

Jason:

Well, one of the things that I was excited about is I got asked to be a mentor on the Safety Refined website. So that that website is really based upon just finding mentors for people. There's no cost involved at all. It's just like, "Hey, here's a bunch of safety people, and they want to mentor, and they want to help." So just-

Jill:

Yeah. Talk more about what that is.

Jason:

Michael King is a guy that I met on LinkedIn, and he started this website because he has a heart for mentoring. So he reached out to some different safety people that have a heart for mentoring as well. So he created this website called safetyrefined.com. On there, you'll find bios of every mentor that's a part of the site. If you're a new safety person and you just want to kind of get some mentoring, you can reach right out and pick one of the people from the bio, well, get an email, and we can jump right in and help mentor in any way that we can. It's all volunteer. We're all volunteering to help the profession as a whole.

Jill:

You're kidding. I had no idea. This is excellent.

Jason:

Yeah, it was a great idea. I mean, I jumped in with both feet as soon as he asked me about. Before he even created the website or created the idea, I was like, "Yeah man, I'm on board, whatever you need." There's some great, great mentors on there that can really help out. I think he pretty much has covered most bases of all industries. So that's the primary way that I'm trying to assist with mentoring from that aspect.

The other aspect is just general day-to-day communications on LinkedIn anytime I can interact and jump in. Then on the community page for ASSP as one of the influencers, so I'm able to get on there and answer questions, technical questions, and assist in community chatter and stuff like that. So I'm mentoring through that as well. Then that's the main ways that I'm mentoring as much as I can. Yeah.

Jill:

Yeah. So what does the mentoring... You're talking about external mentoring with fellow safety professionals, and man, thank you for that. It's so important. What does mentoring look like where you're working now? How does that work for you? Who are you talking with?

Jason:

I visit every one of my branches twice a quarter. I go what I call a relationship visit for an audit visit. Relationship visit is really sit down with different individuals, talk with different individuals. I usually ask a particular set of questions. I think they're going to use tool now. But it's, how are you, and then, how is your family, how's work, and what can I do to help you?

Jill:

Yeah. So you go to these different sites. I don't know how many employees are in your organization, but do you take a sample every time you talk to different people, or how does that work?

Jason:

Well, the areas that I cover, they're small enough that I can talk to everybody in a visit.

Jill:

Wow.

Jason:

Yeah. Yeah. So it's spread out. The 10 branches are spread out, but there's none that are so large that I can't have the opportunity to speak to everybody.

Jill:

Yeah. So you call those relationship visits?

Jason:

Yes.

Jill:

That is excellent. Then did you say you also do audit visits?

Jason:

Yes.

Jill:

So talk about how those are different and what that looks like.

Jason:

A relationship visit is really focused on, maybe there's been a new program that's come out or maybe there's a new benefit that they may not know about yet or hasn't been expressed well enough. I'll cover those in a relationship visit? Then just really seeing how they are and let them talk to me a little bit about what they can see. There's something that's just low-hanging, I'll address it. It's not like I'm going to just walk past something because it's a relationship visit. If I see something, I'll offer up some opportunity for improvement there. But that's not the intention of the visit. The intention of the visit is to get the pulse of the team, get an idea of how they're doing, what we can do as a company and as a corporation to help them do it better, and then see where they're at.

Jason:

Then the other visit, of course, is the one that all safety professionals know, which is the audit visit, where we get the chance to look at the facility, the programs and everything else and dig a little deeper.

Jill:

Yeah. So when you're doing one of those audit visits, Jason, just listening to the way that you operate, I bet you don't do that all by yourself.

Jason:

No, no, no, no. We have a program called Designated Safety Champion. So each branch picks a person for a six-month period to be the designated safety champion. They have some requirements, like they have to submit at least one BBSO a day. They have to participate in the quarterly audit with the safety manager. They have to call me once a week and just kind update, see how they're doing. We-

Jill:

Interesting. That's an interesting piece.

Jason:

Yeah. It's an awesome little program. But I usually grab them and whoever's over the branch, and we walk it together. I get ton of pictures, and then we sit down, and I go through the audit form with the pictures and with them, and then we sit down and we discuss what needs to be improved, what are their assigned tasks for the next visit. We make sure that everybody has an understanding of that, and then that report goes out to management.

Jill:

That's beautiful. So two types of visits, relationship visit and audit visit. I love that. What a great practice.

Jason:

Yeah. It was really awesome when I was asked by my boss, "What are you currently doing? How are you doing things? How are you visiting the branches?" And I shared that that's how I plan out my visits. He was like, "Do keep doing that. That's exactly what we wanted done. What I don't want is I don't want, every time you're there, you're there for an audit because then there's no trust built." So they supported from the front.

Jill:

Right, right. Yeah. I mean, and some people might think that sounds like light fluffy, mushy, gushy stuff, those relationship visits. But if anyone is banging on the door of, we need a culture, we need a culture, that's where it starts.

Jason:

Yeah, absolutely. They can keep on safety kaput if they want. Then eventually down the road, a supervisor will hopefully take a little side and tell them there's a better way to do this.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. Genius. Genius. I love it. I love it. Oh, you know what? I wanted to back up and ask you as you're talking about these relationship visits. You had said something that was pretty funny on social media recently. Do you want to talk-

Jason:

I see where this is headed.

Jill:

So do you want to... I believe you called it, what, a seagull.

Jason:

A corporate seagull.

Jill:

A corporate seagull? Okay. So yeah, talk about what's a corporate seagull in your mind?

Jason:

A corporate seagull is somebody from corporate who flies into a branch and craps all over everything and then flies back to corporate. The idea is that there's no relationship there. You really feel like you've just been crapped on when they visited your facility. So the idea is not just for safety professionals but management in general. We need to build those relationships because if you only fly in and only look for problems and only point out the problems and don't point out any positives, yeah, they feel like a seagull just flew over them. So we want to avoid that. The best way to avoid that is through relationship though.

Jill:

Yeah. Right. Well, and you know, as someone who is representing management, and sometimes safety professionals sort of forget that. I mean, I know that I have, at least in my jobs where I've sort of forgotten that people view that role as a piece of management, and self-employees don't have context as to why you're even there. People start making up stories in their head, like, "Why is this person here?" I mean, you might hit the ground and have five meetings back to back where you're doing your work, you're doing your job, and everybody's wondering like, "Why are they here this week? Why are they here today? Wonder what's going on. Does this have something to do with me? Is it about our organization?"

People make up the stories in their head. So I think it's important tying into your, don't be a corporate seagull and dump all over the place. But you really need to tell people like, "Why am I nesting here this week? Why am I here today?"

Jason:

I think something that you just said reminded me of something. You said the story they tell themselves in their head. I think that's a great phrase for the standpoint of what we need to be doing for relationship building is we need to be very cautious about the story we're telling in our own head about why they're doing what they're doing. If somebody is doing something unsafe, and we immediately say that's because they don't care about safety or they don't value safety, they don't value their own life, then we're going to communicate with them with that mindset.

So we have to tell a different story in our head. I mean, a great example, if you're driving down the road, I mean, we all will occasionally get road rage, right? We're driving down the road, and that guy cuts you off. Now, the story that we are going to tell in our head that's going to create road rage is going to be, "That dude thinks he's more important than me. I can't believe he did that. Who does he think he is? Blah, blah, blah." Now, you're angry.

If you're driving down the road and that guy cuts you off and you go, "Man, I hope his wife's down the hospital about to have a baby. He must be in a real big hurry to get there." All of a sudden, you're rooting for the guy. So it's the story that you tell yourself will change how you emotionally view it. So we have to do the same thing when we're dealing with our workers in the field and remember the story that we tell ourselves can become truth real quick whether it's truth or not.

Jill:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. That phrase, the story that's in my head right now is actually something I learned from the social scientist, Brene Brown. For anyone who's a follower of Brene Brown is something that she coaches and talks about. Oh, I wish I could cite the title of her book that I read where I learned that. But in communication with someone, when you're feeling like you've got a story made up in your head, like, "That person must have reacted to me in that way because..." Or, "We're having some conflict here, and it must be because..." To actually use those words with whomever it is that you're talking with and saying, "Hey, the story I'm making up in my head," say that out loud, "The story I'm making up in my head right now is that we're not working well together or that you believe this thing that I just did is really wrong or that you you did X, Y, and Z because... Is that true, or is that just the story I'm making up in my head?" To really just put it right out there.

Jason:

Yeah, I love that idea. Actually, I was listening to you in Abby's Accidental Safety Pro podcast a while back, Abby Ferry. I think something that she and you both had said in the podcast was asking workers, "So tell me about what you're doing today. I think that that can go hand in hand with what you just mentioned about. Let me explain the story that I'm having in my head." So you find out... Let them explain why they're doing what they're doing and how they're doing what they're doing.

Then maybe you could follow that up with, "Well, the reason I ask is because the story I'm telling myself is this, and I don't think that that's true, and I don't think that's your intention."

Jill:

Yeah. So set me straight. What's going on? Yeah.

Jason:

Absolutely.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. Change the narrative in my mind. Yeah.

Jason:

I love.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. Good stuff, Jason. Good stuff. So what's next for you? What are you cooking on these days? Or you know what, maybe how do you find your inspiration? Because you're putting out a lot of information right now, and you're helping mentor people and coach people. Where do you find your inspiration?

Jason:

My kids.

Jill:

Yeah?

Jason:

My kids will do something, and it'll immediately... Something they'll do will immediately correlate to safety some way. So that's usually where the Social Media Safety Minute topic of that particular time may come from. I try not to create content as much as just document [inaudible] like what have I been dealing with? So normally, it comes across as creating content. But really, it's like my 10-year-old did this, so today I'm going to talk about safety glasses.

So that's where the inspiration comes from. It's just probably something silly they either said or did, or I may just be driving to work and something, it'll just pop in my head. I've made a habit of putting lyrics at the front of the post. So I've divided that a lot of the hardest part of creating content or documenting content right now is figuring out what songs to pick that'll match what was... Because about four months ago, five months ago, I started doing that. It's become like, every post now, there's some lyrics in the very beginning, and I'm like, "Oh man, okay. I don't know if I have a song that goes with that." But I have to find one, so-

Jill:

Well, songs can be very inspirational, right?

Jason:

Absolutely.

Jill:

We love those lyricists.

Jason:

Absolutely.

Jill:

So what do your kids think about you being a safety dad?

Jason:

I'm going to have to create a video. I've been thinking about one that I want to record my kids and then just ask them a question, "What is safety?" Because I really want to know what they have to say. I've never asked them that question. So I mean, I'm going to have to do that soon. I'm going to just have to record. I'm going to just ask, "What is safety to you?" And try to get an idea of what they... They may just be... Their answer may be, "That's just what you do for a living, dad." I don't know.

I'm interested to see what their thoughts would be on that. I think that they enjoy being in operations away from the house a lot more. Where I'm at in my career now, I'm able to be home a lot more. So I think they really love that part, just dad being home a little bit more often.

Jill:

Yeah, yeah. I know. My son had a phrase that he used when he was little to describe what my job was. Honestly, I can't remember what it is anymore. But it was something that was funny about safety.

Jason:

Could have been the school as being a safety ninja, but I'm sure it was [inaudible 00:52:14].

Jill:

No, it wasn't that. It wasn't that. Then as he got older, it became kind of an annoyance, like, "Mom, really? Not again. You can make every story a story about death." I'm like, "Yeah, I know. I'm sorry." There are bad things that happen. So when you're trying to get your children to understand risk, yeah, then you-

Jason:

I've been in safety their entire lives. So I think they're just kind of used to like, "Okay, before I can climb this ladder, dad or somebody has to hold it." There's a lot of things that kind of has become ingrained in us through working in this industry that is just ingrained in them from birth. So I don't think that they look at it as that's the safe way to do it. I think they just look at it as, "That's the way we do it."

Jill:

Yeah. Right. Yeah. I think an affirming moment for me as a parent and a safety person was my son called me one night from a football game. Actually, he had left a football game. He said, "Mom, I've got to ask you for some help, and you're the only person I can think of who might know what to do." I'm like, "Oh yeah, red lights and sirens." It's like, yes, I'm alert, I'm attentive. I'm like, "Holy crap. What could this be?" A teenager, when they roll that out of their mouth, it's like... He said, "There's a rumor going around at the football game that someone has a gun."

Jason:

Oh, wow.

Jill:

Yeah. He said, "I didn't know who to talk with. What do I do?" So we walked through, "Where did you hear this?" "Well, I've heard it from so-and-so." "And then where did they hear it?" "They heard it from their brother." "Okay. And where did that brother hear from?" "Well, they heard it from so-and-so who said they saw?" I'm like, "Okay, so we don't have firsthand knowledge?" "No." I said, "Did that person who said they saw it, did they report it to their parents or the police?" "I'm not sure." So we went through this... We went through this whole conversation that really was just minutes long before I was on the phone with the local police department to ask them if they were aware of the situation, which they were.

Jason:

Nice.

Jill:

Yeah. It was a story that someone was making up in their head, thankfully. But in that moment, I'm thinking, "Okay, this is about trust and safety, right? This is about building a culture of trust so that in those make or break moments, someone is going to reach out to you."

Jason:

Yeah. No, absolutely. I didn't have anything nearly as exciting about that. My 20-year-old called me from college and asked me, "Dad, what is workers comp?"

Jill:

Dang.

Jason:

He was writing some copy for a publisher. I was like, "Okay. Well, let's talk about what workers comp is." But it clearly is exciting. But hey, at least they knew who to call?

Jill:

He sure did. He sure did. But you know what, the work that we do is that we want people to reach out to us.

Jason:

Absolutely.

Jill:

We want people to reach out to us before something is happened or is happening or that they're going to do a gut check with us and that our employees need to know that it's okay if it's two in the morning.

Jason:

Exactly. Yeah.

Jill:

That we're going to be there, and we're going to answer the call.

Jason:

Yeah. Before Uber and all of those ride share places that you can just call, and they come pick you up. I could recall, every safety meeting before new year's or Christmas or July 4th, my last thing that I would tell my people is, "If you end up somewhere and you've had too much to drink, call me. I will come pick you up wherever you're at, and I'll take you home." Now, I tell them, "Call an Uber, but call me so I know that you made it home safe." but I was always willing to offer that. I think that's important. They need to know who to call.

Jill:

Yeah, right. Exactly. Well, Jason, you have given so many great tips to our listeners today, including phrases since you and I like phrases about being an amazing resource. I really loved this piece about the two different types of visits, relationship visits and audit visits. Thank you so much for sharing the resource of the safetyrefined.com for people who are looking for a mentor in our field. That's really powerful.

Jason:

Yeah. It is just such a neat... It's a neat opportunity. I know Michael's looking for even more mentors. So if you got people that are listening that mentoring is their passion, reach out to me on LinkedIn, and I'll be more than happy to get you all connected.

Jill:

Oh, cool. Thank you so much for that.

Jason:

Absolutely.

Jill:

Thank you for your time today. Really appreciate to the time that you spent.

Jason:

I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much too.

Jill:

Thank you for spending your time listening today. More importantly, thank you for your contribution, making sure your workers, including your temporary workers, make it home safe every day. If you'd like to join the conversation about this episode or any of our previous episodes, go ahead and follow our page and join the Accidental Safety Pro community group on Facebook. If you're not subscribed and want to hear past and future episodes, subscribe in iTunes, the Apple podcast app or any other podcast player that you'd like.

You can also find all the episodes at vividlearningsystems.com/podcast. We'd love it if you could leave a rating and review on iTunes. It really helps us connect the show with more and more safety professionals like you and I and Jason. Share any episodes you'd like with your friends. If you have a suggestion for a guest, including if it's you, please contact me at social@vividlearningsystems.com. Special thanks to Will Moss, our podcast producer. Until next time, thanks for listening.