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Psychological Safety: one antigen against the Corona Virus

This dialogue is from the Women in Safety Excellence WISE/ASSP. I am keeping it anonymous and invite people to own it if they so choose.

Why is psychological safety an antigen for the virus? Because trust is the underlying factor in getting people to follow the hygiene and physical distancing guidelines.

Safety Manager: I’m struggling to help my staff understand that while we are still opened i am doing everything to protect them first and protect their jobs and paychecks in the process. As a leader, I worry about all that, but they don’t see all the things that go into the decisions aim making.

Reply: My husband is dealing with the same thing as the worker. He and his peers feel the company doesn’t care about them and the profit is the only thing they care about. The management is not listening to their concerns and not doing even the minimum to protect them.

Management has said unless the government knocks on the door forcing them to shut the doors they will remain open. They are manufacturing airplane parts so there is a critical piece. But not first responder or municipality level of critical.

I have clients who have told their workers what the plan is. Such as if they are sick, they get full paid sick leave. If they are shut down, they get at least two weeks full paid. They expressed they don’t know after that and neither does anyone else. They are trying to be transparent as possible to keep worker focus on safety while working rather than being distracted. Very difficult times for everyone involved.

This is such a critical piece of the work that must be done–keeping psychological safety. The H&S function is at the forefront right now lets communicate to management that psych safety is as important as physical safety.

Advice and caution from Pam Walaski, a much respected professional:

“Get yourself in front of leadership. Give them accurate information with recommendations. Make sure of your sources though. I’ve seen a lot of social media posts (and some in this group) of poor sources and people stating things as fact when they clearly don’t know what they are talking about. That doesn’t help the profession or individual professionals.”

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Rosa Antonia Carrillo

Rosa Antonia Carrillo, MSOD is a leadership and culture expert with an emphasis in environment safety and health. Her upcoming book, The Relationship Factor in Safety Leadership, is scheduled for publication by Routledge Publishing has been called required reading to understand the foundations of "safety culture" by Edgar Schein. Her ground breaking articles on relationship centered leadership, safety culture, mindful conversations, trust and open communication have gained the attention of of leaders world-wide. In recognition of her contributions, the Safety Institute of Australia invited her as the Wigglesworth Memorial Lecturer in 2015. She is president of Carrillo & Associates, Inc. a provider for employee engagement, leadership development, and coaching services for leaders of companies that want to achieve high performance in EHS while delivering business results. The C&A team delivers engaging leadership development workshops to executives, managers, supervisors and employees to help them transform into leaders who build collaborative, trusting, and motivating work environments. At the same time, given the unique challenges of operating a high- hazard facility, the training focuses on managing and enhancing employee performance as well as effective decision-making. Ms. Carrillo holds a Masters of Science in Organizational Development and is former adjunct faculty for the Presidential Key Executive MBA program at Pepperdine University.