It can be easy to let things slip, safety wise, and live under the misconception that compensation is there to pick up the pieces when things go bad. The truth about compensation is very different.
Each Wednesday, join me, Peter Finn, managing director of FACE Contracting, as I navigate the ups and downs of the mining industry with forward-thinking professionals from all walks of life. If you’re involved in the mining industry in any way – whether you’re a lifer or a high-school student looking to make the leap – Full Production is the podcast for you.
In this episode, we welcome back a guy who is quickly becoming our resident workplace safety expert, James Wood. James is one Australia’s leading advocates and speakers on workplace safety, particularly in the mining industry. And he’s a guy who walks his talk. If you haven’t heard his story before, it’s well worth having a listen to episode 48 of the podcast.
In this one, we get to the truth of injury compensation, and ask the question how effective is it for the worker. Plus we look at changing people’s perception of living with a disability. And a bunch more.
Here’s what else we dig into:
- Figuring out your ‘whys’, and bettering your ‘hows’
- Making safety a core value
- The concept behind the Woody’s Words blog
- Why understanding your ‘why’ is a big contributor to safety
- Lessons from 20 years of talking about safety
- Psychological processes people go through after an accident
- The role of organisations such as iCare and WorkCover
- The positives and negatives of state-based compensation systems
- Why the system and process disadvantages the injured
Full Production episode 48 – James Wood on Surviving Serious Injury and Changing People’s Lives Through His Story
00:00:00] Electric Guitar leads into background heavy rock music]
[00:00:03] Peter: G’day miners. This is Peter Finn. Welcome to Full Production.
[00:00:10] Woman Speaker: In this podcast, Pete talks everything mining.
[00:00:13] Peter: A podcast dedicated to the mining industry in the Australian Pacific region.
[00:00:19] Woman Speaker: From production to development and most importantly, employment opportunities of the industry’s biggest project. And here is your host, Peter Finn.
[00:00:31] Male Speaker: G’day ladies and gents. Welcome to Episode 58 of Full Production. Today on the show, we have repeat offender James Wood for round two. James is an award winning speaker and advocate for workplace safety. And if you head to the CNB Safe website, you can check out some of his Woody’s Words safety video messages for a laugh and a real-world look at life after a workplace accident. Pete and Woody jump straight into the deep end this time round and talk figuring out your whys to better your hows, making safety a core value as well as asking the question ‘how effective is workers’ compensation?’ And does the system have the worker in mind? Peter Finn and James Wood.
[00:01:24] Peter: James, welcome to Full Production, mate. Round Two.
[00:01:26] James: Thanks Finny, nice to be back.
[00:01:28] Peter: Right, you’re a sucker for punishment.
[00:01:30] James: Oh, I don’t know about punishment. Well, I enjoy our little chats, mate.
[00:01:33] Peter: Nothing but quality conversation. You know you told me just offline there you enjoy my voice as well.
[00:01:38] James: Yeah, well, I don’t think that’s exactly how the conversation went. I’ll wear it.
[00:01:44] Peter: I told you next time I should bring beer.
[00:01:46] James: Yes.
[00:01:47] Peter: You got a bit of a podcast series coming up of you guys at CNB Safe. I’ve got- obviously you’re going to be a regular on the show, on the podcast and obviously the topics you and me can talk about and whether we agree or disagree. We haven’t had too many disagreements, you and me, yet.
[00:02:05] James: Ah, not yet. I’m sure it’ll happen.
[00:02:07] Peter: I’m sure we’ll come across something. But, I also got Alan Newey is my first guy, coming on with you guys.
[00:02:15] James: Alan’s a nice guy, mate. He’s only got three limbs. He got his right arm ripped off by a conveyor belt.
[00:02:23] Peter: I’m here to hear the full story, I’ll look into it.
[00:02:25]James: Well, I won’t give too much away, Finny. I’ll leave it to you and Alan to talk about.
[00:02:30] Peter: Yeah, looking forward to it and actually catching up in the next day or two. But I’m unsure if this podcast will come out before his. Every time I go to catch up with you, I think I’ll go look at Woody’s Words. They come out weekly and I tell ya what, the amount of shit that you cover is pretty broad. Like everything from changing a light bulb to airports, you name it, mate. It gives you a bit of a different perception. Is that the idea of it? What’s the concept behind it all?
[00:02:57] James: I think it is, Finny. I mean, you know, the majority of the population go through their day, and go through their week and go through their life not really having to consider how having an injury or a disability or a difference would change things for them. So what I try and do is try and take simple things, like a light bulb. You know if you were at home and went and flicked your switch and your light bulb blew, you’d go ‘aw, shit’ and you’d straight away go and grab a ladder, grab a spare light bulb and change it. But for someone in my situation, that’s just totally out of the question. I can’t climb a ladder. For the listeners, I’m in a wheelchair. I’ve been in a wheelchair for nearly thirty years, so I can’t climb a ladder. So for me to change a light bulb, it involves either asking somebody else to do it or you know, finding an alternative way to do things.
[00:03:54] Peter: I guess it’s a perception point of view. And people who don’t know your story, they can go back to episode 48. I just googled it then. I didn’t know the number off the top of my head. But they go back to episode 48, they’ll hear your story when you came on the podcast last time. I personally like them. I haven’t watched them all, but I like picking a random one out here and there-
[00:04:14] James: Look, I try and give people that different perspective, mate. I personally didn’t know anyone with a disability before I got hurt. I think there was one guy – I grew in Canada, Northwest, New South Wales- and there was one guy in a wheelchair that I used to see infrequently. You know, a few times a year. And I don’t think I had taken the time to actually think about some of the ways he had to do things different to how I did them. And after I got hurt, I thought to myself, well, you know what, it’s probably a good thing to be able to show people some of the ways that I have to do things different. You know what I mean? Some of the Woody’s Words are all about how I drive a car. I reckon before I got hurt, I probably thought would have thought that someone in a wheelchair couldn’t drive a car. When in actual fact, I can use this other hand control to accelerate and break, so there are a lot of things I can still do. I just have to them in different ways.
[00:05:13] Peter: Takes a bit to learn too. I’ve got a few wheelie mates. We had been in the pub together one night and I said I’ll drive your car around for ya. And he said yeah, no worries. And I had jumped in and he’s like “oh shit, it’s hand controls.” I’m like, yeah, should be no worries at- it was fucking hard, dude. I couldn’t- I struggled. He said it took him a fair bit and he had to get his license. I presume you were the same?
[00:05:35] James: Yeah, you’ve got to pretty much live all over again, Finny. I’d been doing things for twenty odd years before I got hurt. And then all of a sudden I had to relearn to do a lot of this stuff.
[00:05:54] Peter: Let me ask a question. You’re all about influence and trying to get people to change their perception, but does just about- I had been listening to a book, Man’s Search for Meaning, an audio book and a statement hit me in the face. And it said ‘if the why is deep enough, the how is not an issue.’ You know, no matter what the how is, if the why is deep enough, the how is not an issue. You know when people figure out their why, like you know why they’re at site, whey they do what they do and the better they understand their why and live in term of it, do you feel like how they go about them day to day actions is going to a big contributor to them going home safely?
[00:06:34] James: I agree with that and up until you just said that little statement, I had never heard it before. So I might have to go get myself a copy of that audio book. I think that’s the thing, I reckon a large number of people that work in any industry, whether it’s mining, construction, whatever, they don’t have that why. And they just get up in the morning, they go to work. I mean, sure, the why is to earn a few dollars to have a decent life outside of the workplace. But you know, if you take it to that next level and think about it a little bit deeper, there’s a lot more whys. And I think you’re right. If you really take the time to think about the whys, then you put a lot more effort into the hows.
[00:07:20] Peter: Well, it’s funny that the very next statement after that quote hit me in the face is ‘live life like it’s your second time around.’
[00:07:32] James: And look, that’s another interesting avenue that we could’ve probably explored at some stage, Finny. I think after I got hurt, I realized that I probably wasted twenty odd years of my life. And I don’t say wasted, I mean I loved the time that I had the time I had before I had my accident. But after I got hurt, I think I realized there were a lot of things that I had probably passed up on, wasted opportunities. And now, my way of living, is if an opportunity comes my way, I’ll take it, because you just don’t know what’s around the corner. You don’t know what’s going to happen in two years, five years, ten years time.
[00:08:12] Peter: It’s funny. I’m sort of like on the other end of the scale. I’m more keen to say no to more. I don’t want to do shit that I don’t want to do anymore. Like if you and I- give me a 50/50, I’m going to feel good doing a bit of charity work, that sort of stuff. But this is what you talk about- I’m pretty in tune to figure out why you do what you do. Why do you want to do it? And the better you understand that why, like 8 whys deep, I feel like that better you can move forward. But you’re also right, the opportunity you are saying no is the opportunity you lose. It depends on what you’re perception is.
[00:08:43] James: Look, I agree with that. And you know, I’ve got some physical limitations but again, I’ve always been of the view, Finny, that if I really want to do something, I’ll find out- I’ll find a way to do it and I’ll put the extra effort in, just to make it happen.
[00:09:04] Peter: How much does that value give you in life? If you were an able-body, you wouldn’t have carried that attitude?
[00:09:11] James: You know, I agree. I think that- look, I hate the fact that I get around in a wheelchair. I am honest enough, to admit it’s probably given me a different set of values, a different set of ways of looking at life, and it’s opportunities.
[00:09:32] Peter: Do you feel that because of them- because of what’s happened in the accident, and you doing what you’re doing now, do you feel you’re making a difference? I know we talked about the aura you get from mine sites. When you walk on mine sites and you’re already hearing the crib room chatter, the conversations you have with individuals, you’re not seeing one or two sites a year. You’re seeing a lot of sites per year. You’re a frequent flyer.
[00:09:55] James: Look, I’m going to pull you up there, Finny. I don’t walk onto a mine site.
[00:09:59] Peter: Sorry, mate.
[00:10:02] James: But, look, I guess I don’t- I’m lucky in a lot of ways that I don’t suffer from the ego. I go on to a mine site, construction site, any workplace to share my story with one view, and that is, if I can stop somebody else from getting hurt, it’s a bonus to me and it’s also a bonus to the person that doesn’t get hurt. I don’t- look, I’ve been doing these tour books now for twenty years- if I can’t sort of sit back and think, well you know what, I’ve stopped three people, five people, ten people from getting hurt, that’s pretty rewarding to me. But that’s not why I do it. I do it because, you know, this is the sort of thing that made me question some of my actions, my behaviors before I got hurt.
[00:11:00] Peter: That’s a whole other deep conversation, I feel because- I tell ya, the reason why I think of it- I think about the downturn. When the downturn on and everybody has a lot of uncertainty in the air, they seem to, you know, ‘fuck, I’m not saying something. I’m not going to talk about that safety issue. I’m not gonna talk about this- I got a house and a kid and whatever I was applying for. And you know, I guess the management are like “we can’t go and get Woody in to talk about these incidents it’s not because we don’t want to waste money or being unresourceful. There’s also that yin and yang approach when we go in for this upswing- and I’m looking at writing a book soon, Woody, and one of the topics that come up in the brainstorm was Full Production verse the perception of mining, because as we go for this big upswing in mining, everyone’s wanted and there’s heaps of work around, but ultimately it fucks the perception of mining because people are willing to leave for two or three dollars more, they’re not paying attention on their job. So there’s that yin and yang approach between having a lot of work and not having a lot of work and still being able to ensure people go home safely. Because the first thing we talk about every time is the toolbox, is the safety. Safety is number one and that’s a given. And people like you, and things have happened to you because of accidents – and that written in the legislation today.
[00:12:25] James: That’s something that I’ve picked up on over the years, though, Finny. I think that a lot of the companies that I work for- I wouldn’t say a lot- I’d say some of the companies that I work for, safety is not a core value. It’s something that they do because they have to do it. It’s something that, in some ways, they’re forced to put a bit of effort and a bit of resources into safety. Whereas, the companies that I really enjoy working with are the companies that embed safety into their operation. And then it doesn’t just become the guys in the crib room are going ‘we got another safety meeting, or more safety, bullshit.’ It actually becomes part of the way they work, part of the way they think, and they’re the companies I love working.
[00:13:17] Peter: It’s interesting, the old humans. We’re an interesting creature because I think about – it’s like something when you jump on a plane and the pilot comes on, or the host, and they talk about the safety instructions. It’s like you’re putting your safety into the hands of someone else. People see a safety guy, and they go ‘it’s your reason to why I’ve got to be safe.’
[00:13:43] James: That’s funny too because, like, I remember when i got hurt, one of the first things I wanted to do was blap somebody up for what had happened to me. I think exactly what you said just then, is that I used to, some small part of me, was that it was somebody else’s job to keep me safe. When in actual fact, it’s the company or the business. Their job is to provide you with the tools that you need for yourself to stay safe. You got to use the training that you’re given. You got to use the system and procedures put in place. And that’s the way that you’re going to be able to go out of that gate at the end of each shift.
[00:14:27] Peter: Yeah. Do you notice – we’ll get into this workcover and the topic we’re originally going to talk about- do you think or have you seen a lot of mates or people that have been through accidents, do you think they go through a quite similar psychological process after an accident?
[00:14:47] James: That’s an interesting one, too. Because everybody’s different, Finny. I mean, you’d say it all the time. The same thing can happen to two people and they’re just going to deal and cope with it in totally different ways. So to answer that question, I’ve got some mates that have had injuries, workplace injuries or injured away from work. They’ve got a chip on their shoulder because of what happened to them or that chip seems to fall off and they just get on with their life. I think it all comes back to what happened to them, how it happened and being able to accept what happened and just get on with it.
[00:15:28] Peter: That’s a whole other rabbit hole.
[00:15:31] James: We tend to dig ourselves a few of those when we have a conversation.
[00:15:34] Peter: It’s alright. I like digging them. My audio guy will listen to this and he’ll say ‘go down it, go down the rabbit hole.’ And I’m sort of going to go down the rabbit hole with this next question. Do you think, you talk about the core value of workplaces and giving our workers the tools to be able to safe no matter what industry you’re in, but do you think we’re being impactful enough? Do you think, I said it before – and excuse my language because I’ve been in one before, but they walk into a room, dude, and they’re not relatable. Not all of them are relatable. Do you feel the industry, or us, are doing enough to get practical people into a safety role that’s going to be impactful enough?
[00:16:18] James: That’s a hard question to answer, Finny. I’ve worked with some really good safety people. The thing about, the people that I’ve worked with that are good at safety, they don’t think of themselves as safety people. They’re good people people. And it wouldn’t matter what they’re doing, whether they’re pushing the safety wheelbarrow, the production wheelbarrow, whatever wheelbarrow they’re pushing, they’d be good at because they can relate to their people and their people relate back to them. And that’s where I think you were alluding to the fact that we got some people that are in the industry at the moment that are doing whatever role, whether it be safety or whatever, but they’re not good people people. They don’t have the skills, the interpersonal skills, to be able to relate to the people that they’re working with. So the people that they’re working with are just not listening.
[00:17:11] Peter: That’s a bit like when you run into an engineer – and I got a few engineers that listen to this podcast- but some engineers are really smart, some mates that are super smart dudes, but you put them into a room full of people and it’s a little bit awkward. And these guys are managers or GMs or whatever, but then you got other guys that maybe drank a lot more at university and have a real bubbly personality and barely have a degree. But they seem to be able to bring the best out of people or able to create that atmosphere. I think a lot of it these days, too, comes down to that foreman, superintendent level. And we won’t want to talk about engineers too much because they are up the food chain a bit from a planning, schedule point of view, I guess an overall picture.It’s the guys from a day to day point of view are key.
[00:17:52] James: I got to be careful of what I say about engineers. I got a sister and a brother-in-law that are both engineers. So I’ll haul back a little bit on engineers.
[00:18:01] Peter: My new GM, Deno is an engineer as well so maybe I’ll hold back a little bit on engineers.
[00:18:09] James: I’ve also some met some engineers,and part of their role is safety. And they take it on in a whole different way. I mean engineers do think in a unique way. And some of the engineers that I work with that work in a safety role, they are fantastic at it.
[00:18:29] Peter: I get it .It’s funny how academically smart people can sometimes miss the most important key which is emotional intelligence and the ability to be relatable. But this comes back down to- there’s a good report out, xennials and millenials, coming through. You meet a young person today. Do you think ‘fuck, they’re different?’ And the reality of it is these guys are the future. We can be nervous about the future or we can be excited. I’m personally excited and you got to give them what they want as well. It’s different, you know. Just because it’s not what you’re used to, just because it’s not what you’re used to from a person point of view, how do you think we should go about from a mindset point of view, being able to relate to the new demographic coming through in the workforce? Have you seen much of it? Have you seen a change?
[00:19:19] James: I know a lot of younger people getting into the industry. I think you just gotta take the time to try and understand how they think.
[00:19:30] Peter: Well, they’ve got more resources more than ever now, too.
[00:19:33] James: I’m lucky because I’ve got two son in their twenties and I’ve got a good relationship with my boys. So I can see how they relate to their peers and how they work. They’re both in the workforce, you know, and we do have some good discussions on how things are different now than they were when I was their age. I’ve got a little bit of a tap into their world. But for the people that don’t have those insights, you’ve just got to take the time to try and understand.
[00: 20:07] Peter: You’ve got to go find them. I coached a rugby society, must be a year or two ago now. And these young fellows- when I was growing up playing footie, if I was being a dickhead, they would pull you aside and just say hey, pull you aside, pull your fucking head in, Finny. If you’d done that these days, they wouldn’t come back. Drop a guy from the side and instead of him coming and having a face to face conversation, he’d Facebook me. And I’m like, dude, I was just right in front of you. It was a really easy conversation to have. But it made me really aware, that’s why doing a lot of work into this new demographic – you’re young fellows are in their twenties- what are the sixteen year olds like?
[00:20:49] James: Yeah, and how hard is it going to be to manage that. Like if you’re in a position and you have young people in your workforce and you don’t have that understanding of how their world works, how hard is it for any person with some sort of leadership or management skills to try and bring those people into the world that they’re in.
[00:21:14] Peter: Interesting to see how them courses involve to be frank. To give our leaders better skills to be able to lead them. But a whole another podcast right there. We could probably sit your boys down and pick their brains and get a few guinea pigs in for an example. But the question I want to ask, and we’ll get into it from a workcover point of view, is let’s talk about really simply, what does workcover do in your eyes? It’s icare now. It’s changed.
[00:21:39] James:The problem they have is they change their name quite regularly. You have your change of government and they just chuck out the old and bring in the new.
[00:21:49] Peter: It’s like the power line companies. They’re always changing.
[00:21:55] James: How many different power companies have you had in your life. Look, I- full disclosure here, I don’t do much work with workcover. I don’t really know much about how they work. I do, my understanding of it, Finny, is they’re the overriding organization for safety and for the rules, the system and procedures that a company has to abide by to keep people safe.
[00:22:29] Peter: My perception is quite similar, mate. And I guess the question I ask you then, and the dealings you’ve had to do and the dealings I’ve had to do or the dealings that I’ve seen, is probably the next question. What you have seen and in your perception of workcover, has it been effective or ineffective? Have you got any journeys – I know you’ve got your own journey- but you would’ve seen some mates, like James and all the other guys go through their own workcover journey. I’ve got mates, just talking off the top of my head now, just talking to you, I probably should reach out to, because they’re probably sitting around doing fuckall to be frank. Mentally still the same person, but physically can’t do it.
[00:23:07] James: Depends if you’re talking about workcover as in the governing body or if you’re talking about worker’s compensation, because that’s a whole different kettle of fish. The legislative side of thing, you’ve got people that usually sit in a CBD, a central business district of a capital city that don’t even get out to a workplace. They wouldn’t even know what a pair of boots is. But yet, they’re supposed to be responsible for keeping people safe. I get a little bit frustrated about that. When they would introduce a policy that we, as workers, you know us on the ground floor are supposed to abide by, yet they never have a shovel in their hand. They’ve never picked up a hammer and put a nail in. So how are they supposed to give us the rules that are meant to keep us safe.
[00:24:01] Peter: This is no different than what you talk about with having a leader whose quite practical, not even has a personality or an emotional IQ to be able to go in and relate to whatever situation might be. I’m in New Zealand, and I’ve got a mate, Robbie, who I had a bit of boxing with. And I’m just on the phone with him before you rang and he’s got a little workshop he runs, little tiny panel beater workshop and he says like ‘work safety come around’ and literally just grilled him of the legislation changes. New Zealand is a bit behind Australia. And I’m like, shit, how fortunate are we, being mining companies or miners, or even construction workers, to on average we can relate to pretty heavily, to have the legislation and structure in place. I don’t think people appreciate how really good we do have it.
[00:24:47] James: I agree. And I’m lucky, too, Finny, because I get to see the variety. Like recently I was out with a big national mining company and they had the resources to shut the site down for a day, pull all the people off the site and spend the whole day- they had myself, they had other speakers, they had activities, team-building- now, you suggest that to his mate that runs a little panel beating shop and you’d go, how am I going to afford that? How can I go and do that?
[00:25:20] Peter: First thing you said to me was, I can’t be profitable if this some of the shit they want me to do, like fall arrest and fall restraint and this kind of stuff.
[00:25:33] James: You make a good point there because it’s where some of the people that work for these big companies, they don’t realize just how lucky they are. The companies will provide them with the training, the resources to make sure that they do go out that gate at the end of the day.
[00:25:54] Peter: How effective do you think it really is, that full day they had off, looking at everything?
[00:26:00] James: It was pretty tough, mate. Because a lot of these guys, and girls, they’re on their feet for twelve hours a day. Then you get them to try and sit in a room for six or eight hours with some people that are not the most interesting speakers
[00:26:18] Peter: Impact is everything, isn’t it?
[00:26:19] James: It’s tough. I sat in on a couple of sessions and I saw a couple of guys and girls that were struggling to maintain their focus, let’s put it that way.
[00:26:28] Peter: This is a Peter Finn game – I obviously used to do a lot of inductions in safety trainings. So I’d get up and I’d personally try to just Google shitty jokes and try new one liners all the time just to try and entertain the crowd. I had the same sort of demographic coming through all the time. A couple would call and tell my gigs weren’t that good. It was funny, whenever I’m in a big room like that and it is as boring as batshit, I’d actually look around and watch other people go to sleep. That’s how I keep entertained. Most people do the old head nod.
[00:27:04] James: I saw a bit of that last week.
[00:27:06] Peter: But once again, this is probably – I don’t know if you’ve given this feedback to these companies- to really be impactful, people won’t forget it. Me and you are mates, because I don’t forget you. Like Helen [00:27:20] I dont forget her. People, when it hits their core turn, hits them internally, you know about it – but the problem is they only do it for a week or two. Then it wears off, they run into someone they don’t like and it puts them back into their old ways.
[00:27:40] James: That’s the challenge of any sort of leadership group is to keep it going. You might get me or you out to a site for a week and then you’ve got to do something the following week or the following month to just keep that momentum going.
[00:27:55] Peter: You’ve got to keep it juicy, mate. As you said, otherwise the boys and girls are just going to switch off.
[00:28:02] James: But you know the other key to that, too, it’s not just got to be interesting. They have to be able to relate to the person that’s speaking to them because if you get some professor with twelve letters after his name who spent his whole life at university and he’s got a doctorate or a PHD or whatever and he’s got the best slideshow of all time with charts that have got zig zags up and down and all that sort of stuff – if you put that in front of a group of miners, you’ve lost them within three seconds.
[00:28:39] Peter: I hope someone listens to this. And I hope they reach out to me or you and have a conversation, but I haven’t delved in the safety consultancy world in a while. I think, obviously, you do this from a presentation point of view, so your job is to wheel in and be impactful and say ‘hey, look, I’m in a wheelchair.’
[00:29:03] James: The other point I sort of have to pick upon there is that I don’t consider myself a safety professional, because to be honest with you, Finny, I have no qualifications in safety. I’m a storyteller. I’ll go in and tell my story and hopefully by sharing my story and my experiences with other people, they can take something out of it and make some changes to maybe change their behavior to stop them from getting hurt.
[00:29:29] Peter: Maybe it’s something to talk about, you and me, to have a conversation off line to how we can roll out some information or ways for even safety and training people who are designated for that role to have influence on ways that they can have better influence and relatability to the guys.
[00:29:45] James: You’d be able to relate to this, Finny. I met a guy who, five or six years ago now, he was a fantastic operator. He got into mining in his teens and spent his whole life in mining. I think his old man was in the industry and his grandfather. So typical mining, lifetime mining. Anyhow, he made it up into a foreman’s position and then they wanted to promote him into a superintendent. But the problem that he had there was, for a start, he was absolutely shit scared of public speaking. He said that even thinking about getting in front of a room full of people or a crew full of people, he said he used to sweat and lose control of his bladder. So he pissed himself, he was that scared. And in the end, he turned down the promotion because he knew that he was going to have to speak in front of people and try to deal with other people’s issues.
[00:30:49] Peter: He would have been ideal for the role, too, like I presume.
[00:30:52] James: He would have been perfect. He was a really good operator. He never been hurt in his life, hard worker. But the fact that he just didn’t have the skills or he wasn’t willing to upskill himself to get to that next level. I think there’s a lot of people out there, that if they had someone that was willing to say, look, don’t think of it as public speaking, just think of it as telling little stories here and there.
[00:31:23] Peter: It’s a bit like when you sit around the table and the group instructor goes, hey, everybody say something about yourself. And all you’re thinking about is what you’re going to say and you don’t actually listen to what anybody else says about themselves. What I usually see and find is the guys that are really vocal and verbal are sometimes full of shit. I’m not saying all of them are and it’s sort of like, mate, you like this because there’s a lot of other insecurities in the background that are playing you to be like that. Maybe I might roll out a package on trying to get some real miners, some real guys, female or male, into them supervisor roles, willing to work on themselves in that personal development of things. We got off sidetrack again, as we do. But that’s a good topic- I enjoyed that conversation. I want to talk about -we talked about workcover, and I guess probably want to start the conversation off with workers’ compensation. You’ve some people go on this journey, be effective or ineffective. You would’ve seen some journeys yourself. Do you want to elaborate on the ones you’ve seen ineffective or effective? And maybe some stories that you know.
[00:32:34] James: Sure. I think that the theory behind workers’ compensation is good. It’s designed to provide some sort of security for someone that gets hurt at work. However, it doesn’t always work like that. I’ve probably got a whole heap of stories I could share with you, Finny, where it’s worked for the negative. One of the biggest issues that I’ve seen it that people that get hurt and that do end up with some sort of payout that then becomes a bit of a false comfort. They think, oh yeah, I’ve got x amount of dollars in the bank, so now I don’t have to go back to work or I don’t have to concentrate on getting myself physically well again. But no matter what amount of compensation gets, it’s eventually going to run out. It’s going to fizzle out. You’ve got to look at what it’s meant to do. My view is that compensation is great to provide you with this fort that you need while you need it but then it’s up to you, the individual, to get back on with life.
[00:33:57] Peter: How do you find these compensation companies or compensation in general attitude towards being hurt? Are a lot of them pointing fingers? They’re obviously going through workcover, they’re going through the site. Do you see a lot of them- because, you’ve got to remember and I’ve seen it happen- guys go to work, normal fellow, female or male, have gotten hurt. Then all of a sudden, they’re like ‘shit, this is a pretty bad incident.’ Whatever the situation might be, you’re probably going to go for the first two or three weeks, then an incident report is going to get rolled out and then the process starts. And we start talking about, how are compensation in the government and workcover actively towards the injured person? Because what happens to them is they must feel lonely and walk some pretty dark days? You know, about getting where their future lies, about uncertainty and then how much energy do they waste? I guess that’s probably what I’m looking for, Woody, is energy- how much energy, emotional energy do you see people walk down? And you see they get a payout over another two or three period years time, because I presume this shit sometimes takes a fair while, too. And then all of a sudden, what other cash do you have in the meantime between then and there?
[00:35:19] James: I think its a system, Finny. That’s probably the best way to explain it. The whole workers compensation scheme is a system and that system is designed to- and I know I’m going to get a lot of people that are going to argue with me- it’s designed, not to break the person that gets hurt, but it’s very hard to beat that system, to put it that way. Now, if someone gets hurt, you’ve got that individual, in most cases, they’re blue-collar, working class people and then all of a sudden, they’ve got companies they’ve got to fight. They have companies that have their own legal firms working them, you’ve got insurance companies and their whole job is to minimize the payment they’ll have to give to an injured person. So, the energy that you’re talking about, it’s just huge. It’s massive. And a lot of people give in and that’s why the system- you might have someone that gets hurt at work- and after the first year they say they’re going in, they’re going to fight and get as much compensation as they can for the injury that I’ve sustained. But by year two, we know that their resources are running out, they’re in a lot of pain in a lot of cases, the whole lifestyle changes is getting to them. So that energy diminishes. By year three, they’re going, I just want this shit finished, I want it all over and done with. You give me ten dollars and I’ll be happy. They’ll walk away and never have to talk to you again.
[00:37:06] Peter: Usually that ten dollars is not enough for after that, either.
[00:37:07] James: Yeah, But that’s it. They just want it all done with. It doesn’t matter. They just say, you know what, I’m out of here. I’m not fighting you anymore. Unfortunately, that’s just my view of how the system works. The whole workers’ compensation scheme is designed to get to a point where you say you know what, I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s minimizing the exposure that they’ve got when it comes to paying someone for getting hurt.
[00:37:41] Peter: That’s shit, isn’t it?
[00:37:42] James: Well it is. But the fact is that’s the reality.
[00:37:49] Peter: This person is going through so much. They’ve had a workplace- they’re disconnected from their workplace. We’ve heard that story so many times. They’re now going through a different lifechanging experience due to physical or mental or whatever the situation might be. And then that’s probably got a lot of personal effects, too, on their wife and kids and their own validation of self-worth. And then obviously, now, they’ve still got an uphill battle that’s getting drawn out for the courts. And as you said, resources are limited. It’s a continuous spiral, isn’t it?
[00:38:19] James: The thing- the way that I look at it, Finny, is once someone gets hurt and it gets passed over to the legal and the insurance people, you then don’t become a person. You become a number in a filing cabinet somewhere. And they don’t give a rats what happened to you. You can have people knocking on your door saying, look, we’re going to take your house off of you, we’re going to repossess your cars. If your space in that filing cabinet is not due to being dealt with, they don’t care about what’s going on at home.
[00:38:51] Peter: Have you ever had a lawyer or a case where- I’m not saying you should endorse a lawyer- but have you seen an positive or proactive cases and things come out for the good in the processes that you’ve seen over the years?
[00:39:07] James: No. I don’t even have to think about that. Look, I’ve heard some horror stories. I’ve got my own horror story and I don’t know how much I can share with you. I was actually told by my lawyer in hospital, that I probably shouldn’t try to get back to work because it would affect the outcome of any compensation I were to receive. And I said to this lawyer, if I don’t get back to work, you won’t have a compensation case to worry about because I won’t survive if I don’t get back to work. But again, this is my personal story. I do think that the lawyers and the insurance companies that the system is so entrenched, that its very rare to hear a positive story or a positive outcome come out of someone getting hurt and somehow receiving some compensation. The simple fact is, Finny, there is no amount of compensation that can make up for some of the things that someone in my situation just can’t do.
[00:40:18] Peter: Gee, you really got me there. I start thinking about- I wrote down here on my piece of paper, get a workers comp lawyer on the podcast. I think they would be worth talking to, given their point of view. What can we do to change this? What are our actual options to put an active shoe on here? What can blokes like me and you and the audience do to be able to put- to either sit here and interview a hundred workcover or work compensation podcast people and say ‘hey, tell me how shit your journey was.’ To really paint a picture for someone else higher up the food chain.
[00:41:00] James: The other thing that is really pissing me off at the moment is that system is just getting bigger. You ask, Finny, what we can do as individuals- I don’t think we can do anything. I don’t know if you’ve got it over where you are these days- how many times are you driving down the freeway and you’ll see a big billboard with a legal firm saying ‘if you get hurt at work, we get you a compensation payment.’ To me, that’s bullshit. That’s giving people the false view, that if you get hurt at work, you’re going to end up with this massive, big payout, and you’re not going to have to worry about things for the rest of your life.
[00:41:43] Peter: Why do you think it’s so process and system-driven to break the person? Why do you think it’s so tough? Do you think people have, I guess, flogged it in the past?
[00:41:54] James: Yeah, that could have something to do with it. I do-
[00:41:58] Peter: I’ve talked to Dad about a few old fellows when it first came out-
[00:41:59] James: I was just going to say the same thing, Finny. My old man used to tell me of people that maybe wanted a bit of time off. So they would deliberately injure themselves.
[00:42:14] Peter: Ten grand. Ten grand a finger they told me.
[00:42:15] James: I’ve heard those stories as well. I think, possibly, due to the fact that the system was abused a long time ago, they’ve now turned around and made it even harder for someone that does legitimately get hurt, whether it’s through their own fault or no fault of their own- it makes it a lot harder to obtain a justifiable outcome for everyone.
[00:42:45] Peter: It’s scary to think, though, that individually, that we haven’t got much of a foot to stand on besides who we vote for in the voting booths, mate.
[00:42:50] James: But, without getting political about it too, Finny, one of the things that I’ve had a bit of a think about recently is that most companies these days, especially larger companies, they’d be quite happy to find some compensation for a worker. But because you’ve got the legal and the insurance people in between the worker and the company, you know, it’s where it becomes and convoluted and out of hand. I reckon that in some of the companies you’ve worked with, if someone got hurt and is a fairly serious injury, the company would quite happily say, look we’ll give you a million dollar payout or a couple million dollars to look after you for the rest of your life. But then you’ve got lawyers and the insurance companies in between saying, no we can’t do that. That’ll increase our workcover premiums next year. They’ll set a precedent for everybody else. So you’ve got that whole mess in the middle that’s stopping the two desired outcomes. The company wants to say, ok, that injured worker needs looked after and the injured workers wants to make sure they’re looked after but then you’ve got those two groups in the middle that are screwing everything around.
[00:44:08] Peter: We’re so broken, aren’t we? Technically, and not even technically, from a human standpoint, point of view. This is what I’d do- knock on wood- I’m obviously a mining contracting company, not just a podcaster. I haven’t had a really bad workplace accident. And a big reason why I feel that is because our screening process, I get to know my operations, I get to know my sites that I’m going to sell these guys to. But if I did, I’d personally feel that the self development that you have to do on that person in that moment and from there on forward is going to be way cheaper and a lot more efficient on an energy output point of view from a personal, emotional state than it ever is going to be through the insurance companies, the lawyers, and also the individual life that you’re playing with. I just think that would be my tactic because I feel that at the end of the day, after I go through all of that sort of stuff and through this time, they’re just going to take the ten dollars and use that for the first five years and you get a pension or whatever the case might be. You’re in that status quo, aren’t you.
[00:45:20] James: But again, you have a complication there, Finny, of you might be the top dog at your company. And one of your people might get it and you want to do everything possible on a personal level to make sure that persons alright, but yet you’re going to have your legal people and your insurance company go, actually you can’t do that, Finny. You can go and take this bloke in a slab of beer- you know what I’m talking about- you’re going to be told what you can and can’t do by people in that middle from two opposite ends-
[00:46:05] Peter: Do you find then people even limit certain companies to even be able to show a proactive attitude towards other people?
[00:46:15] James: I don’t know if they deliberately do it. Again it comes back to the fact that the system is designed- or not designed, it’s in place, that you might have a manager of a company that wants to do the right thing by the injured person, yet they’re going to be told by their legal people, you know what, you can’t go and see him in the hospital, in case you say something that’s gonna make things difficult for me down the crack.
[00:46:38] Peter: I’m looking forward to getting a lawyer on, like I’m keen to have a chat with someone now-
[00:46:42] James: I’d be interested to have a listen to that, too, because you got to keep in mind, I’m not an expert in this area. I’m just an injured worker that’s been through my stuff and that’s how it worked for me.
[00:46:52] Peter: And obviously, you’ve seen a lot of people go through it as well. I appreciate your insight, put it that way, Woody.
[00:46:58] James: The other thing you’ve got to add into this, too, is every state runs a different scheme. And it’s just bullshit. I mean, you can get hurt in New South Wales and you’ll be treated totally different than in you were hurt in Western Australia and vice versa.
[00:47:12] Peter: Have you- can you compare some states? Have you seen, like, obviously you’re from New South Wales like me and you’ve been getting around the country, if not the world these days.
[00:47:24] James: Look, really without giving any specific examples, I’ve known a couple of people that have had exactly the same injury in different states and one of them received a very, you know, quick compensation settlement and payout. And I must admit, it did allow them to get on with their life whereas the person that had the same injury in another state, they had dragged it out for nearly nine years, before their exact same injury and exact same state of circumstances was settled out. So it’s the luck of the draw, mate.
[00:48:08] Peter: Nine years is a long time, brother. I’m probably going to wrap it up because we have been on the podcast for a bit now and chatting away. Thanks for coming on. I’d be interested- I guess at the end of the day, the message still is for the individual to look after their own in a health and well-being-
[00:48:27] James: And look out for each other, too, Finny. I’m a big believer that if you see somebody do something you think is a little bit risky, just say something to them.
[00:48:36] Peter: I’m looking forward to getting the rest of the CNB Safe speakers on the podcast. Obviously Alan is first and I’ve already had one on -Western, what is his name?
[00:48:46] James: Michael
[00:48:47] Peter: Cool bloke. I met Michael over in Perth. I’ve had him on already and I’m looking forward to getting Alan on, mate, and I appreciate your time. What are we going to talk about next when you come on?
[00:48:57] James: I don’t know, Finny. There’s plenty of rabbit holes that we can get in.
[00:49:02] Peter: I think I’m just going to get them all in the hat, mate, and just draw one out on the day and that’s what we’ll talk about.
[00:49:19] James: I do like the possibility of looking at what we can do to influence other people, Finny. I’m a diesel fitter and you’re a miner, and we’ve managed to do some things that we probably didn’t think we would have been doing ten or fifteen years ago.
[00:49:28] Peter: Definitely got out of my comfort zone, mate, put it that way.
[00:49:31] James: And I’d be interested to discuss what got me to where I am and what got you to where you are and that might give other people that are sitting back, thinking, you know what I’m never going to be able to do that. It might give them just that little bit of opening to say, you know what, if Finny did it and Woody did it, maybe there’s a possibility that I could do it.
[00:49:50] Peter: Mate, you couldn’t say it any better. I know, I think to myself, if I can do it, you can do it. Once you start that action or start putting that plan in place- I’ve been releasing a few short videos- are you on Facebook? Are we on Facebook together? I don’t know if we are.
[00:50:06] James: That’s the one thing I don’t do. The one thing I don’t like. The problem with Facebook with me, is I can’t- if someone says something, I tend to react. So I removed myself from Facebook.
[00:50:22] Peter: You’d be busy fighting fires. I used to be a bit the same, Woody. Having mates like you and understanding how passionate you are- I realized that where your attention goes, energy flows. And I really wound myself back to only look at Facebook now as a way to interact proactively and interact from an influence point of view. There’s all these different platforms you can use- I know you’re big on Linkedin. I love your sprays on Linkedin. They’re my favorite. You know, Linkedin, Instagram, you should have your marketing team and have a look at some options to maybe limit your own personal interaction on Facebook, because you talk about it before,influence and leading by example. This is what you want your leaders to do. It’s like your mate you talked about earlier on the podcast who was an awesome operator, knew his shit, but was a bit hesitant on his public speaking but really he would’ve been a fucking ideal shift boss or ideal superintendent. I think if we can all lead by example and push ourselves over the comfort zone- like me and you together and keep that influence going and get other people on board.
[00:51:28] James: Let’s look into it mate.
[00:51:31] Peter: I will, brother.. I’m looking forward to our next chat. It will probably be in another month or so time. Looking to get more CNB Safe people on and I appreciate [00:51:38] for booking us in and [00:51:39] booking us in-
[00:51:42] James: They’re doing a great job, mate.They’re our organizers.
[00:51:45] Peter: Looking forward to chatting again, mate. Before I go-
[00:51:50] James: There’s another option, too, Finny, you do what you do because you’ve got some good people around you and I do what I do because I’ve got some good people around me. We can sort of go down that rabbit hole, is to enable us to do what we do, we need the right people around us.
[00:52:06] Peter: You know what hit me in the face awhile ago- the person that said, it was actually a rapper called Pitbull. He was on Tony Robinson’s podcast and he said- he grew up really fucked up, in a real shit environment with gangsters and that sort of stuff- and he said, show me your friends and I’ll show you your future. It’s so true. Who you’re hanging around is who you become. You remember times when you’re hanging around the wrong crowd and you’re like-
[00:52:31] James: How do you get that through to a fifteen or sixteen year old, mate, who just wants to be part of the crew, part of the crowd? They don’t say, well hang on, is this what I’m gonna be when I’m in my 30s and 40s and 50s.
[00:52:47] Peter: It’s definitely a journey, mate. You gotta walk the path, brother, and you find the way eventually, I’m sure of it. And something must change in people over time. It’s a good topic because we obviously care about the influence of this podcast and we care about making an impact. I look forward to maybe me and you delving a bit more into our next topic and how we can go about helping more people and doing more.
[00:53:16] James: Sounds good.
[00:53:17] Peter: Mate, pleasure in coming on. Quick before you go, [00:53:187] a Thorn supporter, aren’t ya?
[00:53:19] James: Yeah, good start to the season.
[00:53:21] Peter: I’m actually a [00:53:22] fan, so I’m actually two for two.So I’m pretty happy about that.
[00:53:32] James: So are we. Yeah, we’ll see how we go. We haven’t really been tested yet.
[00:53:34] Peter: The [00:53:35] on the weekend- actually I didn’t watch that game. Actually you know a [00:53:38] fellow, Peter Robinson is a Melbourne Storm welfare officer. He used to play for Melbourne Storm. Yeah, he’s a good fellow. We’ll get him on the podcast cause he has an interesting story. He was a 24 year old boiler maker and was a good football player and just decided, you know what, [00:53:55] and went over for a trial match and ever since then, ended up catching up with [00:53:59] and a couple people at the club and they said that having guys like him that are motivated and not by money but are just rocking out and just playing footie. So I have a bit of a soft spot for Melbourne Storm, mate. You’ve been a New South Wales guy, you would’ve been into AFL, wouldn’t ya?
[00:54:15] James: Well, no, cause I came down to Melbourne twenty nine years ago?
[00:54:20] Peter: But you’re into it now, wouldn’t you?
[00:54:23] James: We’re a bit starved, back then- That’s when i went through all the super league saga when i was down here and that’s when Melbourne Storm first came to Victoria. I thought alright, that’s it, I’m back in to watching some real footy.
[00:54:46] Peter: Thanks for coming on buddy. Hope you have a good afternoon and we’ll catch up shortly.
[00:54:48] James: Thanks again mate.
[00:54:49] Peter: Bye, mate.
[00:54:50] Male speaker: James, thank you for coming back on the show. And we look forward to hosting more of the CNB Safe crew. And thank you to all of our listeners. Stick around because we have plenty of new guests [00:57:25] coming up in future episodes of the podcast. And don’t forget to join the Full Production Facebook group to get amongst the conversation and keep up with the latest. Catch you next week. Cheers.