I asked you, and you responded.  Who should I talk to on the podcast? And the answer was: Tim Fitch. 

Hey, it’s Andrew, and this is Safety on Tap.

Since you’re listening in, you must be a leader wanting to grow yourself and drastically improve health and safety along the way. Welcome to you, you’re in the right place. If this is your first time listening in, thanks for joining us and well done for trying something different to improve! And of course welcome back to all of you wonderful regular listeners.

This is an awesome conversation.  Real stories and experiences from a frontline HSE professional who is still learning with more than a decade’s worth of it under his belt.  We covered a lot, I learned a lot! None of this was planned, all Tim and I talked about before recording was just to share his story.  Stick around for the takeaways at the end because this minimally planned and wide ranging conversation percolated some amazingly clear insights for us all. 

This episode is made possible by our mission of enabling better learning that improves performance in your organisation.

We all know that we need to use our safety activities to learn how to improve, right? Risk assessments are proactive ways to engage your people in imagining possible future scenarios, investigations are meant to teach us about lessons from past incidents, and safety committees are designed to provide workers the voice to give their expert input to the way work is managed safely.

But how many of us have risk assessments which struggle to really engage people, investigations which keep saying the same things and not much is changing, or Committee’s which are frankly, sh*tty?

We teach people how to help their organisations to learn intentionally, which means risk workshops that have people volunteering to participate, responses to incidents which generate real learning and improvement beyond the same old corrective actions, and employee consultation which people rave about.

All of these things suffer the same problems, and have the same four steps you can follow to generate learning. I’ve created a short video describing these four problems and four steps you can take to fix them. If you want to see the video, visit safetyontap.com/four

We basically did the intro during the conversation with Tim, so here he is:


Isn’t he great! And humble. 

Here’s my three takeaways from that conversation with Tim Fitch:

Takeaway #1: What do you and your organisation believe or assume about your role? Tim talked about a shift from mere compliance to curiosity, from telling to value-adding.  These sorts of changes happen when we more deeply think and talk about our underlying beliefs and assumptions.  You won’t get very far changing practices unless you go deeper, in dialogue with the people you serve, so you are all aligned on expectations and question WHY things are the way they are. 

Takeaway #2: Tim and I talked about spending time being proactive vs reactive.  Its easy to think about this too narrowly, using default thinking – we react to bad stuff and are proactive when nothing is going wrong.  But it’s not that simple.  Tim is reactive to the needs of his customers, sites, crews and clients.  Changes in the business, in the volume and location of work.  These are all great kinds of reactivity.  How do you think about proactive vs reactive effort? What kinds of good reactive work do you or should you be doing? And what if there were kinds of proactive work which you shouldn’t be doing?

Takeaway #3: Learning learning learning.  Tim used the word a few times but was talking about learning almost constantly in that conversation.  Asking questions is about learning.  Building relationships is about learning (about people).  Acknowledging that learning is a continuous pursuit.  Designing and running little experiments, is about learning.  Even when I asked Tim what was most disappointing for him, I framed it incorrectly – Tim said you can’t be upset or disappointed when something doesn’t work, because you have learned something and that’s the goal.  How much real learning happens in your day to day work? How can you embed more learning into what you do and how you enable others in their work?

Thanks so much for listening.  Until next time, what’s the one thing you’ll do to take positive, effective or rewarding action, to grow yourself, and drastically improve health and safety along the way? Seeya!

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