The Mahi Haumaru Model

The Mahi Haumaru Model is a hermeneutic model that functions with expert input, cognitive objects and real conditions. It was initially based on the simple design and functions of a Fire Triangle that illustrates the three elements that a fire needs to ignite: heat, fuel, and an oxidizing agent. fire-triangle1Similarly, Mahi Haumaru functions on a basis of construction, if tupato, ako and manaaki are being used then Māori values or precepts can be evidenced as being used to improve health and safety. Their application is not a thing but an event because it is a result of conscious decision. The Model is not intended to recommend specific health and safety interventions or practices (e.g. how ako is practiced). It only provides the key underlying values or context for Māori practices in workplace health and safety to occur. While ako, tupato, and manaaki are not the only precepts and practices that can be used in health and safety, they are at the fore in terms of harmonizing a Maori worldview and western health and safety conventions.

Mahi Haumaru Model

Ako means to both to teach and to learn moreover it employs several strategies including a reciprocal nature between learner and teacher in which learners are actively engaged and as such learner and teacher roles can be reversed, the seeking and valuing of student feedback and cooperative learning . The concept of tuakana-teina also operates through the dual nature of ako. Ako contrasts with some western thinking that places students alone at the centre of learning  and the expert or transmission model of teaching. Such differences are arguably the exception. Facets of ako also parallel with western ideals of worker engagement and participation in health and safety such as workers and employers sharing workplace knowledge and jointly identifying and managing risks. Manaaki means the reciprocity of kindness, respect, humility, responsible hospitality, and caring for others and the environment. Alike ako, manaaki also parallels with western ideals of workplace health and safety including the doctrine of duty of care and in New Zealand legislation as the primary duty of care, overlapping duties and worker participation and engagement. Kia tūpato means to be cautious or being politically astute, culturally safe and reflexive. It may prove to be the most unique aspect of Māori health and safety. Cautious behavior resonates with Māori in the form of objects such as the pürerehua (or purorohu) musical instrument, which is swung around the head to produce whirring roar warning hearers to be alert (kia hiwara) and customs such as powhiri requiring preparedness (kia mataara). While there is a void in the literature concerning Māori workers having or not a contemporary predisposition towards caution versus safety, there is evidence that Māori valued it traditionally. The simple design and function coupled with paralleling of Māori cultural precepts with western health and safety ideals enables the Model to resonate practically and more readily with workers and employers and once familiar to be lifted off the page and used instinctively.

Understanding precepts for Māori worker safety – the development of the Mahi Haumaru Model

Kia ora – a largely off the cuff piece.

For the last few months I have been thinking about a possible model for understanding what good Māori health and safety could look like. I aimed for something that portrayed a simple three part structure that could resonate with Māori.

The Mahi Haumaru (Work Safe) Model has a long way to go, even as its architect, I’m unsure what it will finally look like, but at least it’s a peg in the ground.

In this post I discuss one of its elements – Tūpato.

Mahi Haumaru Model

Tūpato

Kia tūpato, tūpoto or matawhāiti is generally accepted as meaning to be careful or cautious. The cautious nature of Māori, politically, mentally and physically is documented.

Being cautious is part of Māori culture and atua or gods are some of its earliest artefacts. Tangaroa is one of the great Māori and wider Polynesian gods. He is the god of the sea, rivers, lakes and all life within them. He is venerated around Polynesia as Tangaroa-nui, Tangaroa-ra-vao, Tangaroa-mai-tu-rangi, Tangaroa-a-mua, Tangaroa-a-timu, and Tangaroa-a-roto, Taʾaroa, Tangaloa and Tangaroa, and Kanaloa. And while Christianity has displaced indigenous deities, Tangaroa survives due to the ongoing importance of the sea to Polynesian communities. As such, the practices of Tangaroa also survive, karakia or prayers to Tangaroa and his many guises are still practiced as are rāhui that prohibits seafood gathering in recognition of a sea fatality or to protect certain fishing grounds from being over used.

Tangaroa has a reputation of being omnipresent which promotes the need to be cautious. The whakatauki or proverb, Tangaroa Piiri Whare or Tangaroa is hiding in the house implies that Tangaroa is invisible and hears all; to be careful as the “walls have ears”. This is reiterated in another kiwaha; Ko Tangaroa ara rau (Tangaroa of many paths).

Skeptics may assign Tangaroa and other cultural artifacts that reinforce Māori being cautious to the history books, but here’s three reasons to reconsider:

  1. In 2013 a Statistics New Zealand national survey reported, 373,000 (70 percent) Māori adults said it was at least somewhat important for them to be involved in things to do with Māori culture. Māori culture including a want of it, therefore resonates with Māori.
  2. Story telling or narratives is recognized as a good way to promote health and safety. It seems practical to utilize stories such as Tangaroa Piiri Whare to unlock and motivate Māori or indeed other workers, to become more cautious.
  3. I recall Drew Rae saying something alike, don’t take the uncertainty away from health and safety, it makes people think they’re safe and similarly Todd Conklin commenting, you have learn to be unsafe in order to be safe. Safety can be measured, managed and therefore audited. It’s an ideal situation that assumes workers are safe as long as they play within the safety of the sand box. Caution on the other hand, is more of a daily journey towards achieving safety. It is caution that can help keep Māori workers safe not safety by itself – we’ve forgotten that and concealed it with safety clutter.

“Kia tūpato” use to be commonplace until it was displaced by “safety”. For Māori workers, caution is quite possible their most intuitive and least path of resistance to attaining a Safety-II outcome.

There’s definitely a place for safety as an outcome but given the current disparity in workplace harms, there’s a pressing case to reprise the use of “caution” as a path to achieving safety for Māori workers.

Instead of safety or safer I think that tūpato or caution is more apt and relevant for Māori workers. It maybe a simple case that Māori workers are better at behaving cautiously than at adhering to safety systems that curb caution. Leaders especially employers, could consider that dynamic and recognize more cautious behaviors into their systems and practices but I guess that’s something I will need to find out as part of my research.

As always I value in your feedback. In the next post I’ll discuss another element of the Mahi Haumaru (Work Safe) Model “Manaaki”.

 

 

Safety Culture And The Victim’s Chair.

green wooden chair on white surface

We have a propensity to blame workers. We tend to bring out the victims chair. We place the worker in it, congregate around it and set up situations where the worker is the problem that needs to be fixed. We do it all the time and its a flawed form of leadership and reasoning.  It’s an unhelpful fixation that undermines the potential of creating good safety culture. We have all done it.

This Post is about removing that chair.

I start by drawing on the thinking of Todd Conklin because it’s clever and helps to illustrate what I am about to write. Every accident or event has three components, context, consequence (the bad outcome) and retrospect (the way we view the accident). Consequence is the least interesting part of an accident because its already happened. It’s also a seductive distraction because it detracts away from an accidents context. Conklin also suggests workers don’t cause accidents they trigger latent conditions that set in motion the consequence.

I think we deal with context by pulling out the victims chair. We justify this and process it as part of an accident investigation and as a result we keep the victims chair in play.

Why did the worker fall off the roof? Gravity. Inadequate fall protection had failed the worker. Are you now thinking about how the workers behaviors triggered the consequence and are now led to improving systems? Do you see the victims chair becoming irrelevant. And are you being swayed to looking more towards systems?

I am going out on a limb by suggesting workers are as safe as the systems they work within. If a worker is harmed then for the most part, the system is the underlying and inflexible cause.

Don’t get me wrong, workers do have a role to look after themselves and others but their ability to achieve that is heavily influenced by safety culture and its leadership. More importantly, safety culture cannot grow with the risks confronting the worker. What’s the solution? I don’t know the whole answer but I do believe worker participation in designing and evolving systems is critical. Why does that not happen enough in a meaningful way?

In a previous Post I have reiterated leadership tends to focus on practices because they are easier to see, measure and change. It’s another distraction that leads us away from adopting good systems and the capacity to adapt those systems to real time risks. By genuinely including workers in informing systems we start to remove the victims chair and replace it with a reciprocating conversation about safety culture.

Indigenous workers are among the most at-risk in the world. Indigenous Māori workers are 44% more likely to be seriously injured at work than the general population. Alike indigenous workers they are unfortunately conditioned to the victims chair, and not only within health and safety. Don’t be surprised if they roll their eyes at you with a, here we go again attitude. And if they intuitively tell you the answers you want hear rather than the information you need to know.

Using the victims chair is an adverse inquisition. It represents worst practice. There’s an opportunity to show leadership. Get rid of it and replace it with a meaningful conversation about safety culture.

Muhammad Ali’s poem was: Me. We. It’s an adept finish for this Post.

References

TFZ Safety Conference 2016 – Todd Conklin.

Safety Culture Needs A Blueprint.

architect architecture blueprint build

I am going to start by discussing a few findings from two presentations. Both are well rounded and provocative pieces of work.

The first is by Dominic Cooper. Two words caught my  attention – need to develop a taxonomy of the core basic assumptions or replace with them with values.

Anything to do with tax worries me, but in this case, a taxonomy is a way to classify and rank things and how they relate to each other. I think of it as a blueprint. Māori culture already has a taxonomy. One version includes aronga (worldview), kaupapa (values) and tikanga (ethical behaviors). I think, it would be straightforward to derive a taxonomy for Māori safety culture from traditional Māori values.

A safety culture without an taxonomy is like a chess board without colored squares or playing baseball without bases. Its guess work.

Likewise values exist for Māori culture. For instance, and in the context of safety, the value of manaakitanga equates to a duty of care.

The second presentation is by Andrew Hopkins. These words caught my attention – culture is a characterized by a specified group. In 2017, Māori workers represented 12.7 per cent or 340,100, of the total New Zealand labour force. Culture is the glue. In 2013, 373,000 (70 percent) of Māori adults said it was at least somewhat important for them to be involved in things to do with Māori culture.

Collective values are extremely difficult to change, if not impossible. As mentioned Māori collective values can effect good safety culture. For interest, leadership tends to focus on practices because they are easier to see, measure and change.

Why did I write the above? The keywords that I have noted have been discussed in a negative context. Cooper or Hopkins are mooting them as gaps for improvement and have offered solutions.

When I think about Māori culture and Māori safety culture the opposite applies  – a taxonomy ,values, specified group are already in place. The building blocks or better still anchors are there – they always have been.

But I’m disappointed. I was talking with a predominately Māori forestry harvesting crew last week. The cultural anchors and subsequent actions were used instinctively but were not embedded in procedure or practice. When asked why they were missing, the impression I gathered was that they were illegitimate in “normal” health and safety system. Whether perception or not its disappointing to see a good safety culture being curbed.

For some of you, this post won’t resonate. Try this, if you were starting up a new business and had to design a proper Taxonomy (general) for its safety culture, what would it look like?

References

  • Professor Andrew Hopkins – The use and abuse of culture.
  • Dr Dominic Cooper CFIOSH – Navigating the safety culture construct: a review of the evidence
  • Mātauranga Māori: An Introduction by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal
    Published by MKTA in 2009 ISBN: 978-0-9582955-0-5
  • Statistics NZ: Māori in the Labour Market, 2017 p.2.
  • Statistics NZ: Ethnic Group, 2014

When Your Safety Culture Is A Lie

addition black and white black and white chalk
Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

A quick update on my research.

I recently watched on YouTube and then read Navigating the safety culture construct: a review of the evidence (July 2016) by Dr Dominic Cooper. I think it’s a nice well-rounded and provocative piece of work, something I intend to revisit from time to time. In my first read, I gathered two points that I’d like to share with you:

First, in research terms, core assumed basic assumptions are invisible, taken for granted beliefs and values that underpin safety culture. They can also come with an inherent flaw. Workers can be impulsive and agree with whatever core assumptions are put before them. And as a result, their safety culture can be a facade. The point Cooper makes is that there’s nothing to anchor those assumptions.

A safety culture without credible foundations is like a wardrobe without hangers – an empty closet.

Second, Cooper also moots that core assumptions could be better replaced by values. Oddly enough in a previous post (and as in other studies) I’ve promoted the five common tikanga Māori values as values.

So here I go again about the benefits of traditional indigenous values and safety culture. I think that indigenous cultural values can anchor core assumptions because those values have a longer history and stronger sense of affiliation with indigenous workers. Again, I see no reason why those values could not be supplemented by other values to enfranchise other workers from other cultures.

It feels good to run across Navigating the safety culture construct: a review of the evidence (July 2016). It confirms that I’m on the right track.

So What?

Do your homework – Your safety culture needs to be anchored by strong recognizable values and those values need to be validated.

Next Post

In my next post I’m going to promote a taxonomy for indigenous safety culture.

ARE WORKERS BEING STOPPED FROM BRINGING SAFETY TO WORK?

hands black and white fingers palm
Photo by Josie Stephens on Pexels.com

Does anyone ask workers “is there anything you do at home that, could improve our safety here?”

You’ve heard the catch-phase, work safe, home safe or something alike. We seem fixated to thinking that our relationship between home and safety is limited to getting home safe from work.

Our narrow understanding of home and safety is often seen in negative terms such or preventing unsafe behaviours (e.g. illegal drug use) and is manifested as punitive and rhetorical remarks aimed at getting workers motivated, “you wouldn’t do that at home would you?” or ” think about your family”.

While we continue to focus our efforts on getting workers to turn on their safety switch at work, we lose sight of the fact that workers behave safe at home and some of those behaviours could be used at work.

A 2017 New Zealand survey of worker and employer health and safety attitudes and behaviours concluded employers and employees have different perceptions about many aspects of workplace safety, and the gap is widening in places.

Starting to reconcile this difference may take as little as a question and tweak of current safety practices. Here’s an example:

In a metal fabrication workshop where workers are predominately Māori and Pacific Islanders, a monthly health and safety meeting is taking place. A discussion results in the leader “asking is there anything you do at home that, could improve our safety at here?”

The normally and quiet unassuming senior machinist outlines his families use of manaakitanga to visitors. Another worker talks about their involvement in a local sports club and how new players are mentored using the tuakana–teina relationship. In both cases, the health and safety of people is seen as obligation that needs to be upheld as a matter reputation.

A review of lost time injuries shows that it’s the younger workers that are being harmed. A discussion reveals that they are only receiving minimal supervision. As a result, a new procedure for new and younger workers is introduced based on a tuakana–teina relationship. Training with quality audits is replaced with mentoring over longer periods of time with set times for feedback and skill checks.

So What?

Engaging with workers about their personal lives can be intrusive. However, this can be balanced if it the discussion is explained and focused on finding ways to improve worker safety.