You Bounce Around Too Much!

If you’re in the construction industry, have a resume, and have let others view your resume either in a job interview setting or as a friend, I’m sure you’ve heard the words:

“You bounce around too much!”


First, you should congratulate the commentor on such a unique observation, with sarcasm of course.

By nature, many of us in the construction industry are always keeping an eye out for the next big project. To put it nicely, construction is a dynamic industry. The dirt behind that statement includes project-halting union disputes, material shortages, the weather, archaeological finds, mating birds, community activism, and many other factors that can seemingly be out of our control. So we try to control as many factors as we can, including our own destiny, by keeping an updated resume in our high-visibility vest pocket!

My bouncing around has enabled me to learn in 12+ years what it may take some an entire career to learn, if ever. I’ve seen once top-secret projects come to life, worked behind the secured gates of US military installations as well as the fancy gates of monster homes in Beverly Hills, Bel Air, and elite coastal communities of Southern California. I’ve lived the entire life cycle of a building from planning to demolition.

I have had direct impact on a contractor saving thousands of dollars in insurance premium.

I have held court over hundreds of classrooms, site trailers, and pickup truck tailgates to train thousands of workers on safety and health.

I have responded to serious injuries.

I have prevented more than a few serious injuries (hopefully).

I have coached contractors to win awards they greatly deserved but never found the time to apply for.

I have so many fun, sad, scary, and real stories to tell.

So yeah, I’ve bounced around a lot! I do not regret a single line item of my resume. All of my experience has been earned and I continue to seek out places where I can bounce to next.

Gamification in plain English Part 1


The countdown is almost on! I am really excited to have been chosen to speak at ASSE’s Safety 2015 in Dallas, TX. My presentation is on Gamification, as it’s a topic I’ve been very interested in over the past few years. I really believe that Gamification is a technique that can change the way that training is delivered and thereby retained by students. As a safety professional, I know how difficult it can be to engage the students and ensure that they leave the classroom with the knowledge they need to make the right decisions in the field.

I want to thank the Public Sector Practice Specialty of ASSE for sponsoring my session. An extra special thank you to Leo DeBobes, the Administrator of the PSPS, who highlighted my session and a couple of others that the PSPS sponsored for ASSE 2015. I’m hoping that members across all industries attend the session, because Gamification can add to any training situation.

PSPS Gamification post

When I recently asked a friend for some pointers on making this Gamification session the best I can make it, she suggested I present the information in plain English! In her limited research of the topic online, she found that no one seems to be able to explain the concept in a simplified manner. So that has become my goal for the ASSE Safety 2015 session – a plain english explanation of the Gamification so that each attendee can deploy Gamification techniques immediately when they return to their office! I’ve been a student of Gamification for almost two years now, so I will be able to pass along my knowledge in an understandable manner so that others may benefit.

See you in Dallas!

Road Construction Season is here!


Our client J&L Steel & Electrical Services continues their progress on the St. Croix Crossing project in Stillwater, MN. The project is receiving lots of attention this week as it has reached it’s halfway point. And, heck, it’s a “pretty” project to look at. It’s highly anticipated by locals, and now that the sun in shining again, it’s a great time to showcase the Minneapolis/St. Paul area’s “other” project. A bridge ain’t a stadium, but it’s impact is greater and longer lasting.

Many people take the roads and bridges they travel for granted. Now that it’s road construction season again in the upper Midwest, please make sure you slow for the cone zone and obey all posted work zone signs and flagpersons. It’s a short-term hassle for long-term gain. Remember that the folks you see working on the roads and bridges in bright yellow vests are someone’s parents, siblings, and friends – we don’t run around your office causing havoc, so please respect our “office” as you travel to yours.


Awards Season Challenge


It’s awards season in entertainment, and in safety too. If you are a current holder of a CSP, CHST, or OHST certification, listen up. There are 10 days left to apply for the BCSP’s Awards of Excellence. Did you know that since the award program’s inception in 2012, awards have only been presented to white men, in all categories (CSP, OHST, CHST)?




I want to challenge my fellow females in the industry and our minority colleagues. When I found out that the awards have only been received by men, my first thought was, “of course, because we women are busy working!”


I will not accuse or speculate as to why the awards have only gone to men, there are probably many reasons. I am sure you all can agree that women and minorities are well-represented in the safety and CSP/OHST/CHST community.

I challenge all of my fellow CSP/OHST/CHST-holders, or those that know a female or minority certification-holder, to apply for the award! The deadline is approaching, and the application is pretty simple. You could probably finish most of it during The Oscars this weekend…

Here’s the link to the application 


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Winter Training Tips 4 Spring Safety


Here in Minneapolis, it is cold – which means the winter training season is upon us. This is the time of year that most construction companies experience slower work due to the cold temperatures. Many sites close down when the air temperature is colder than -10 or -20. As with any safety training endeavor, it can be tough to capture the learner’s attention and hold it. Every season, safety professionals must step up their game to engage their employees in learning, and most importantly to ensure they RETAIN what they learn for when work picks up again in the spring. The winter season can last from two to four months, depending on the weather, so there can be significant lag time between learning new or refreshed safety information and actually applying it on a worksite. Here are 4 ideas to enhance your winter training:

1. Engage the learner from the FIRST minute of class. Use a relevant local news story or an actual incident from your 2014 OSHA 300 Log. Try one of the WorksafeBC YouTube videos or your own photos or video. I’m not suggesting shock and awe, unless that’s something your audience responds to, which reminds me…

2. Know your audience. Do not teach beginner basic skills and material to seasoned veterans of the trade. Tailor your training to your audience – especially if you know you have a pretty homogenous group as in the case of new hire orientation, site orientation, or when teaching a new skill. For mixed groups, identify your veterans and ask them to enhance the class with their knowledge.

3. Facilitate hands-on activities. If you have read previous blog posts, you already know the importance of developing learning objectives. From those objectives, identify ways that you can get students out of their chairs. I will expand on this idea in a future post. Conduct rescue drills, lead students through the inspection of a piece of equipment, or have students teach parts of the class.

4. Question the learners outside of the classroom. When spring starts and workers are back out on projects, take the time to ask your former students about the information they learned in your classroom over winter. This is a great way to gauge their retention and understanding as well as provide an opportunity for the student to demonstrate their knowledge or ask further questions about the information. This is an important part of management by walking around.

Bonus tip – Incentivize employee retention of information learned during the winter training season. If your company has an incentive program, provide on-the-spot rewards for employees who are able to successfully recall, explain or demonstrate what they learned during winter training.

Good luck and stay safe!

Minnesota OSHA Safety Grant Program


There’s a great opportunity for employers who conduct work in the state of Minnesota. Long story short, the agency will match your company, up to $10,000 for safety equipment, materials, or training! The grant form is available online here

There must be a safety inspection conducted with a recommendation regarding the item you’re requesting the grant for. If you don’t have an internal inspection with such information, look for previous service visits from your insurance agent or broker’s risk control consultant, past OSHA consultation evaluations, or safety committee meeting minutes.

Items that are commonly requested through the grant include:

– air quality equipment like four-gas monitors

– specialized fall protection equipment

– technology equipment related to tracking training or safety equipment (RFID tags, etc)

If you need assistance in writing your grant materials for the program, please contact The Ferri Group and we can help you get what you need.

Welcome Aboard new client J&L Steel & Electrical Services!

We are excited to have a new client for our safety services division: J&L Steel & Electrical Services of Hudson, Wisconsin.


So far, we have already rolled up our sleeves (or, bundled up!) for J&L projects at The St. Croix Bridge in Stillwater, MN and 3M in Menomonie, WI. We are looking forward to implementing innovative approaches to soft tissue injury management and prevention among other tasks.

Here’s the press release from J&L’s marketing department:

J&L Safety Press Release

9 Tips to Level Up Your Safety Training

Sometimes we safety people get stuck in our silo mentality. I’ve always been an advocate of integrating safety into as many existing business systems as possible. Make safety as seamless as possible, and ensure that it is seen as a part of everyone’s job. In the same vein, I want to encourage safety professionals to streamline themselves with the greater professional community. I’ll specifically talk about the training arena – think of yourself as a professional trainer, teacher, instructor, or facilitator. Look for resources outside of your typical safety sources.

In preparation for a conference presentation on using gamification and instructional design techniques to level up your safety training, I delved back into the world of e-learning. The industry is HUGE and safety professionals can learn a lot from crossing over into this emerging approach. Most safety training is still delivered in-person, which is great! However, safety professionals can take lessons from the e-learning industry and apply them to the classroom and have some great results.

Level Up Your Existing Tools

1. Avoid “death by PowerPoint” and make your slides more engaging. Use your slides as prompts for in-class activities, drills, and stories.

2. Revive your old Safety Jeopardy or Safety Millionaire games (we all have those, right??).

3. Give hard hat stickers new meanings, use them as badges of achievement a la Foursquare. Maybe someone can become the Mayor of the Training Room for X amount of training hours or above and beyond participation.

4. Broadcast safety training hours completed (or yet to be done) in the usual communication pathways: company newsletter, email, paycheck stuffer, bulletin board. This can foster competition, an excellent element of gamification.

5. Actually DO the fire drill, confined space rescue drill, earthquake drill, etc. Get people moving, they retain what they’ve learned better that way!

6. Revisit your training agendas – do you have stated learning objectives? Start there. The first step in adult learning is telling them what they’re going to learn. Use action words.

7. Develop learning ACTIVITIES based on the learning objectives you developed in step 6. Do this instead of developing PowerPoint slides…

8. Build a learning lab at your office or jobsite. Use those samples the vendors send you. Use dilapidated safety equipment as a learning tool! This is a great way to recycle your tools and equipment, let them live on in a learning lab for years of student knowledge.

9. Incorporate your existing incentive program as a way to encourage retention of new skills and concepts. Give out on the spot awards for personnel who are able to demonstrate they learned something in class!

Safety Hacks

No, I’m not insulting any fellow safety professionals… I wanted to share my list of favorite safety hacks and resources that make my life easier every day. I am open to learning new things, so please share your hacks and tips with me in the comments.

1. Google Google Google

Ever since ditching iPhone and nearly all things Apple about five years ago, I’ve been all about Droids and their integration with the Google suite of apps. It started with a Google Voice number – I can sound like a larger company by having my calls screened, you have to say your name prior to the call connecting with me, voicemails are transcribed and saved on my Google Drive, and I can make and take calls on my phone, iPad, and laptop.

For the past three years, I’ve enabled my Google+ settings to automatically backup all photos taken on my phone. I cannot tell you how many times this has saved me a huge headache or small crying fit.

Google Drive is the recent MVP for me. l am able to easily attach my resume to an email from anywhere with an internet connection (so, everywhere). The best use of Google Drive lately is this: I take photos with my phone while on jobsite surveys, as soon as I have a WiFi connection, I “share” my photos to my Google Drive from my phone, sit back and wait a minute or two…using the Google Drive folder on my laptop, I can now access my photos to easily add to client reports.

2. Resize those risk control pics!

There’s an extra step to the photo uploading that you can NOT forget – resizing. Even photos taken on your smart phone end up as a huge file size unless you’ve adjusted your settings. Using my MacBook, I resize photos in minutes. Highlight all photos you’d like to resize and then click “Open With” and choose Preview. In Preview, select all and click Tools and select Resize photos. Choose the size you’d like and give your computer a few minutes to work. If you remember the days of using a website to upload and resize your photos for your risk control reports (or your MySpace avatar), you will appreciate this step.

3. Gear up.

Over the years, I have accumulated multiple chargers for my many devices. I’ve purchased them out of necessity usually – when my BlackBerry went for a swim, when I checked out of a hotel in Santa Maria but my MacBook cord remained in the room never to be seen again, renting a car only to remember I forgot my car charger in my vehicle over 1,000 miles away, and so on. If you’ve got extra chargers like me, stash them where you need them – keep a wall charger for your laptop in your backpack or briefcase at all times so you don’t need to remember to bring your charger from your home office. Keep a car charger for your phone in each vehicle that you drive regularly (or even not so regularly). The beauty of using Droid phones is that they use the mini-USB connection to charge, so you can charge them nearly anywhere.

4. Tweet and Link before a class or meeting

I elaborated on this topic at the recent ASSE meeting in Las Vegas. If you have a few minutes to prep for a meeting after you’ve done the REAL prep, look up the companies and people that you are about to meet with. You’d be surprised, both good and bad, at what you find. The best case scenario is learning something new about the company or person that you can use to establish synergy prior to the business at hand.

5. Accept it.

A broad comment on technology and social media – just go with it. Instead of learning techniques that you can use as a classroom instructor to keep your students off of their smartphones and tablets, work with it. Think outside the box and come up with ways that you can incorporate the phones, tablets, laptops, social media accounts, etc of the students in your class. I could go on with this topic, but I will save it for some upcoming speaking events! Check the Events page for more details.

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What Gets Measured Gets Done

I’m working on a webinar for next week about safety metrics. If you are familiar with my work or my posts, you know that I am a fan of keeping things simple. As I work on my slides, I keep coming back to the same phrase, which was taught to me over 11 years ago by my then boss, Pete Filanc. I can hear him saying it, “what gets measured gets done!” Pete was a person who kept things simple too. He was a brilliant man, and a one-of-a-kind person to work for. I think of him almost daily as I go about my work in safety and risk control consulting, and he wasn’t even a “safety guy!”

What gets measured gets done.

When evaluating your company’s leading indicators and measurements you use to understand if you’re being successful in safety, think about the following:

1. What safety activities are required for supervisors?

2. Are these activities a part of supervisors’ evaluations for compensation and/or bonuses?

3. How do the supervisors know they are successfully completing the activities listed in #1?

By measuring safety activities required of supervisors and linking them directly to an existing evaluation program that determines compensation and/or bonus, you WILL get your supervisors’ attention! If there are new safety activities or responsibilities that your company has recently rolled out and they are falling flat, answer the three questions. Be honest. Are you measuring what you want done?

I will go into greater detail on this and other leading and lagging indicators and safety metrics next Tuesday, August 26, in a webinar presented in partnership with BLR. More information is at this link. Use code SPEAKFREE at checkout to register for the webinar for free. Let me know if I’ll “see” you at the webinar in the comments.