Guest: Naomi Kemp
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Naomi Kemp, Founder and Managing Director of Safe Expectations joins Business Radio Talkers.FM host Wayne Bucklar in conversation where she promotes her niche safety consultancy business. Her company predominantly specializes in enforceable undertakings (EU) and guide businesses through sustainable strategies to address workplace issues.
Bio: Naomi Kemp is the founder of Safe Expectations, Board Member of the Safety Institute of Australia and Convenor of the Queensland Young Safety Professionals Network. She is a strong advocate for Restorative Justice in the workplace, taking her wealth of experience in working with both WHS Regulators and leaders in private industry to start-up Safe Expectations. A niche safety consultancy specializing in facilitating Enforceable Undertakings to help leaders during pivotal times to make safety happen.
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM. My name is Wayne Bucklar and my guest today is Naomi Kemp. Naomi is the Managing Director of Safe Expectations and a speaker and she joins us today to talk about what it is Safe Expectations does. Naomi, welcome to the show.
Naomi Kemp: Good morning Wayne.
Wayne: Now Naomi, sometimes I interview people from Bob’s real estate and before I start, I know immediately what they do. But Safe Expectations, I’ve been thinking about children’s playground equipment, I’ve been thinking about stranger danger, I’ve been thinking about all sorts of things but having looked at your website now and cheated, I know none of those are right. So fill us in, tell us what it is you do and who you do it for.
Naomi: So it’s a very niche specialist consulting business that I run. We specialize predominantly in what they call “Enforceable Undertakings” which are an alternative sanction to prosecution under the work, health and safety legislation here in Australia.
Wayne: Right. So that’s some workplace safety is one of those things that now everyone understands exists and everyone probably curses a little bit about if they’re a business owner or manager. I think everyone would agree that people should come home from work in the same condition they went to work but sometimes, the requirements to achieve that are beyond what people expect. Now “enforceable undertakings” you say, who enforces those and under what circumstances do you end up with one?
Naomi: Yes, so as you say we do try and have everyone go home safely in the same condition but unfortunately there are cases where that doesn’t happen. So if there has been an incident and most likely an injury, the regulator Workplace Health and Safety Queensland may look to prosecute the company for not providing a safe system within the organisation. And so that’s where the company themselves could look to either go to court and defend themselves or they could do an alternative and I describe it as a contract that they have with the regulator where they will spend a certain amount of money to improve the health and safety of the workplace and then they also then look to do something within their industry and something within the community to improve or create better awareness around health and safety.
Wayne: Now often when I think about people getting hurt at work, I think about what to me is an inherently dangerous occupation. Maybe high-rise construction, or mining or something. Is it the case that it’s only dangerous occupations that have these?
Naomi: No, that’s a good question. So I’ve worked with a variety of companies in the past from companies within the education sector, amusement industry right through to construction, farming, agriculture, mining.
Wayne: You don’t generally think of a classroom full of people as being dangerous in the education sector but I guess injuries can happen.
Naomi: That’s right. We recently had one in Queensland in the last two years ago actually where they were running an experiment at the school assembly that went wrong.
Wayne: Oh wow. I’m trying to imagine what sort of experiment you can run at the school assembly that can go wrong but never mind. Naomi, what size businesses do you work with?
Naomi: So unfortunately enforceable undertaking is generally more appealing to the larger organisations. However, there’s no restriction in the legislation. So in actual fact, an individual who could be prosecuted could also do an enforceable undertaking. It’s just that I guess the expectations of what the regulator are looking for are quite higher, the standards are quite high. So you generally find those large organizations with the big budgets will go down that path and and I guess, it’s important for those companies because their corporate image and their reputation is very important to them. So they do like to go down this path because whilst something bad has happened, the enforceable undertaking can really focus on the positives and what they’re going to do to repair harm, and restore justice and rebuild those relationships.
Wayne: Yes and I guess that means they don’t have a prosecution record against them in the record books as well.
Naomi: That’s correct and a lot of people ask that and my argument to that is that if most people when they do go to court for a first offense, they generally don’t get a conviction recorded either. So you can sort of weigh it up that way as well.
Wayne: Alright. It’s interesting I’ve watched the workplace health and safety legislation develop over I guess 20 years now and it seems that it’s getting more and more personally focused that CEOs, and directors and business owners I think can now actually be sent to jail in some circumstances.
Naomi: Yes. So there are a couple of offences under the Act where they refer to it the duty of an officer. So obviously determining who is an officer in a company can be difficult, particularly those large complex organizations. The smaller end of town, it’s pretty easy, it’s either the owner or the managing director or both. So yes, they have an offense under the Act if they don’t fulfill their duties that is either a penalty or imprisonment. And recently in Queensland, we’ve seen the introduction of industrial manslaughter offense and that is actually increasing in popularity across the other jurisdictions. So I think very quickly, we will start to see that same offense be introduced throughout the other states in Australia.
Wayne: And Naomi, what constitutes industrial manslaughter? I mean I guess someone’s obviously end up dead but what else fits into that offense?
Naomi: So there already is in the Act what we call a “Category 1 Offense” and a Category 1 is generally where these set in the past. But a Category 1 doesn’t have to be a fatality. So the introduction of the industrial manslaughter is there must be a fatality in this case and it then increases the bar and talks about negligence and this is where it does get individual, did an individual, were they negligent in causing in being part of the incident.
Wayne: And I guess that’s going to put someone in jail.
Naomi: It potentially could, yes.
Wayne: Yes, all of a sudden, things get serious when there’s potential to spend time in jail I guess. In most businesses, you kind of think of that in terms of financial crimes rather than things where some people might not feel that they actually did anything wrong.
Naomi: It does and obviously, the idea of having these 10 million dollar fines and five years in prison, these penalties is to have that deterrence effect. My only issue I have with it is that we actually have to have cases where things have gone terribly wrong and these people have to be brought to justice so that there’s a general deterrence effect and then we will actually see some real benefit come out of prosecution.
Wayne: Now Naomi, how do you get into a relationship with your clients? Is there a list published that you can ring them up and talk to them or do they need to know you exist and come and look for you?
Naomi: That’s a good question. I don’t like to chase ambulances and so I don’t do that. I generally get bought in via a lawyer. So something will go wrong and we obviously have, there’s a section under the app that you can get legal privilege and obviously to get legal privilege you need a lawyer. I strongly recommend that if something goes wrong that you do have a lawyer and then you would have that discussion with the lawyer about obviously the details of the incident and what you may be held liable for. And it’s at that point, it’s really important to talk with them about what you want to achieve out of this situation and that’s where we see companies who obviously reputation is important but they realize that they really could make significant improvements in their workplace around for example, we’ve seen in the livestock, abattoirs in the meat industry – there’s been this working at heights issue that is just everywhere with throughout the entire industry. And this one company just looked at it and went, “Well how about we solve this situation? We solve it for ourselves and then we solve it for everyone.” And it’s those sort of companies that go, “You know what, we can do so much more than just go to court, cop a penalty, be slapped on the wrist and business as usual.” So they’ll have that conversation with their lawyer and then the lawyer will say, “Well we know the person to talk to.”
Wayne: Now Naomi, I just want to change gear here and talk about your speaking activities as well. Do you speak about the same thing? Do you speak about the workplace health and safety and the enforceable undertakings?
Naomi: Yes, so I do. Is it a popular subject? Sometimes, not. You start to get into the, “Oh, it’s a bit legal. It’s a bit serious.” And so I call myself a strong advocate for a restorative justice in the workplace and always happy to talk about it. However, I have recently started talking about a more personal story of mine which is sort of gives people the reason why I’m so passionate about health and safety in the first place.
Wayne: So for people out there in our audience who might have recently been elected to the organizing committee of the next staff event or conference, what would they be looking for if they were to engage you as a speaker?
Naomi: A good time. I don’t try and make safety fun but I try and make it a bit more interesting and a bit more palatable. Sometimes, I find safety people come in and they tend to lecture. So my story that I talk about is I call it “don’t give your workmates the SHITS.”
Wayne: It’s internet radio, we can say shit if we want to. No one is going to censor us.
Naomi: And so it really is a story about have we forgotten about the HNOHS? We all talk about safety and working at heights, or electricity or mobile vehicles but we tend to forget about just the simple things. And so my story is about contracting a workplace illness, gastro in the workplace which then it took me just over three months to return back to work. So I ended up with a post infection syndrome, I was at hospital, I was paralyzed for over two weeks and took a long time to recover from that and get back to work. So from what seemed like such a simple everyday illness became quite a serious event in my life and such simple things like staying home from work if you’re sick can prevent further spread of infection and illness. If you’re looking for someone to come in the workplace and obviously, there’s two jokes and I talk about the story but then what can you do to prevent illness? But then we can tie that in and go down the path of looking at physical hazards and things like that as well and also mental illness.
Wayne: Yes. Mental illness is something we talk about often on the radio here. Now Naomi, there’ll be people in our audience now who are either thinking they have to organize speakers for next year’s event or for the events that are coming up this year or they’re sitting there saying, “We just had an incident and we had an inspector through and we’re in strife. That Naomi Kemp lady sounded pretty smart. How can we get hold of her?” How can people reach out to you?
Naomi: A couple of ways and my website has all my details so my website is www.safeexpectations.com.au. And you can find me on Linkedin, I’m pretty out there on LinkedIn, I like to get on there a fair bit. I do have a Facebook page as well so if you’re more of a Facebook user, you can just search my name there and you go to my public profile on Facebook.
Wayne: Naomi, thanks for making yourself available today. It’s been great having a chat with you.
Naomi: Good to talk about enforceable undertakings.
Wayne: If you just joined us on Business Radio Talkers.FM, you’ve just missed my chat with Naomi Kemp. But the good news is on our website, we have all her details, Naomi Kemp, Managing Director of Safe Expectations. We also have a transcript of the interview so if you’d like to read what Naomi had to say, you can head off there and read the transcript. But if you’re a listener and given that it’s radio I assume you are, we also have an audio archive of the whole interview on Soundcloud, Youtube and iTunes that you can treat like a little mini podcast and download and listen to it as often as you like at your leisure. You’re listening to Business Radio Talkers.FM, my name is Wayne Bucklar. And do remember if you’re listening to us on social media, all those little smiley faces, the likes, the shares, subscribes, they let us know you’re there and that makes me smile and makes me happy. So please click all those buttons even if you’re gonna click the frowny face, we still like to hear from you. And if you have questions either for Naomi or for the station, drop them into any of the commentary on any of the social media channels, we monitor them all and we’ll either pass them on to Naomi or we’ll get back to you directly from the station, Business Radio Talkers.FM.