Philip Smallman


Philip Smallman

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Philip Smallman could have lost his life as a result of a workplace accident. He didn't - but will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. One small lapse in concentration and his world came crashing down. He is now a paraplegic.

Philip Smallman is unique. He is a professional speaker on a mission. In two powerful hours, Philip will change attitudes towards workplace safety.

Most Australian Companies have been very progressive in improving our workplaces over the last two decades. The final hurdle is personal accountability and commitment from each individual to build a sustainable safety culture.

Philip Smallman is on a mission to help individuals, no matter what their role in the Company to understand why it's important to contribute to a safe culture.

Workplace safety, as you know, isn't just all about saving lives. It's about preventing injury and the trauma that means for workers, their family, workmates and the Company.

Philip Smallman is having a powerful effect and bringing about big changes in workplace attitudes towards safety. This is being reflected by a change in behavior by workers, both towards their fellow workers and towards management.

His clients have included:

Victorian Workcover Authority, Coles Myer, Telstra, Unilever Foods, Vinidex, Visy Industries, Olex Cables, Australian Vinyls, CSR Readymix, Nissan Australia, Eastern Energy, Skilled Engineering, Stork Personnel, Kemcor Australia, Powercor Australia, TXU, The Empower Group (representing CUB and Pilkington Glass), GE Plastics, Alcoa (Pt Henry), BHP, City of Whitehorse, Citywide, CSIRO, City of Knox, Apex Fenner, Kodak, City of Hume, Carter Holt Harvey (Myrtleford Operations), SPC Ardmona and Nilsen Electrics to name a few.

As a principal client, Telstra used the services of Philip for 6 years in various roles from inspirational talks to workers (and their families), as an advisor on safety committees and recently was the host in a series of videos aimed at Telstra employees and their families. The letter below, from Alan Olden, the Executive General Manager, Metro Service to Philip following a presentation to a management team provides an insight into the power of Philip's presentations.

In November and December of 2003 Philip delivered his presentation to all workers and managers at the Alcoa site at Point Henry. Following a zero injury rate in January 2004 there was evidence to suggest that not only was there an attitude shift towards building a safer culture but there was a behavioral shift as well. Alcoa is well on the way to building a committed workforce with intolerance to injuries.

In November 2006, Philip spoke to all employees at SPC Ardmona Operations at Shepparton and Kyabram. In February 2007 the company announced that no injuries were reported for the period of January 2007, a record never achieved by the Company.

When it comes to talking to employees, Phil is one of them; they relate to him and he relates to them.

One small thing changed Phil's life forever. Do your employees understand the importance of the small things when it comes to safety? Do they accept personal responsibility and accountability for their safety and the safety of their workmates? Do they transfer a safe life ethic to their home life as well?

Philip will convince them of why they should make safety an integral aspect of their work ethic.

Philip has a powerful message that revolves around an account of the consequences of his injury. An understanding of the consequences helps us to finally understand the "˜Essence of Health and Safety'.

What we are rarely confronted with is the costs associated with "˜lifestyle altering' injuries. We often hear people say "you did not think about the consequences of your actions" but the reality is that very few people ever hear about the true costs associated with injury. How can we ever think about the costs if we don't know about them? Well, from personal experience Philip will tell you that the costs are very, very expensive. With every "˜life-changing' injury there will be financial, professional, social, emotional, psychological and deeply personal costs. It is coming to understand these costs that lead us to understand the essence of health and safety and the human costs associated with injury.

The essence of health and safety is, of course about peoples' lives. For you, it is all about your life, it's all about giving yourself the best possible chance of surviving, and I do mean surviving your working life. It's all about preserving what you value in life.

From Philip's perspective however, he thinks that safety looks something like this......

Safety is giving ourselves the best possible chance to live the lives we want to, not the lives we have to!

As human beings we have freewill and with freewill we have the power of choice. With respect to health and safety we can choose to adopt safety into our lives or we can choose to reject it, it's that simple. Unfortunately many workers in this country choose to reject elements of safety that are on offer. They are the people who associate safety with money, productivity or are just plain arrogant enough to think it can't happen to them. Arrogance drives complacency, overconfidence, negligent behaviour and a sub-standard approach to work ethic.

If our judgments are based on an underlying rejection of safety principles and resources, and these judgments become habitual, we take ourselves out of the realm of "˜possibility' and into the realm of "˜probability'. If we personally make poor judgments often enough then it becomes probably that we are going to get hurt, it's just a matter of time.

Philip should know, he was in the "˜probability' realm. His injury was not an accident ....... he just ran out of time and luck.

Arrogance is what put Philip into the realm of probability and consequently into a wheelchair.

The human costs associated with injury are real and there are thousands of people in this country who will testify to the same conclusion. Sure, accidents happen but a true accident is very rare in work places. Most injuries occur because people continue to make poor judgments. Many of us consider the essence of safety is all about money, personal protective equipment, work procedures, training, manuals, safety equipment etc. The truth is that the essence of safety is the human costs associated with injury.

Once the safety management teams of companies such as Telstra, Alcoa and recently TXU, Sims Metals, SPC Ardmona, Nilsen Electrics and Toll SPD heard Philip's message, they made the commitment that every person must hear the message.They are committed to positive change and recognize Philip as a powerful tool to help them build a safety culture.

You can take this opportunity as well.

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