We run many field safety courses each year for university staff and students, for schools and for large commercial organisations, NGOs and charities. A recent four day field first aid and leadership course we were running in Norway got us reflecting on just how much of the content was about managing people.
The timetable contained “soft skills scenarios”, “giving effective safety briefing”, and “leadership styles”. Even some of the harder skills of risk assessment were dominated by discussion of how to get people engaged with the process, how to share the information on risk assessments and how to get people to follow the control measures you have put in place.
Reading a step by step guide to the company’s overlying field safety policy with this in mind we noticed a little line we’d not really noticed before, “engage participants in a thinking approach to field safety”. It really made us reflect on quite how important this often neglected area is. It can be too easy to get focused on safety policies and paperwork and forget that so much of fieldwork safety comes down to the skill of the organisers and leaders to engage everyone in a thoughtful and common sense approach to risk management.
The course focused on group management skills, delivery styles and options for quality field safety briefings. These are core to any successful safety management and are skills which are crucial to outdoor instructors and commercial exploration managers, to school teachers and field scientists alike.
If you are interested in learning more about field safety and leadership skills, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.