"More of an impact in 40 minutes than I've had in 4 years!"
Whether it's told during a back to work briefing, a safety standdown, safety impact days, your annual health and safety conference, or as part of your safety culture programme, Michael's Story has made a huge impact during all of these - and more - since his sister was first invited to tell it back in 2012.
How is Michael's Story told?
Louise takes around 40 minutes to talk through the night of her brother's death. She begins at the point of getting the call from her mum and dad to say Michael had been in an accident. And she goes on to talk through how he himself had got a call to an "all hands on deck" job, and that he was only to return to work for 40 minutes after an evening tea break before he suffered the electric shock that was to prove fatal.
Louise then dissects the failures that were to accumulate and result in her wee brother's death. These details are taken from the notes she took during the 4-week-long criminal trial of her brother's employer.
After setting out the outcome of the trial - the "invisible man" receiving a fine of £300,000 in respect of Michael's death - Louise goes on to talk about how she has come to have the strength to tell her brother's story and the lessons to be learned from a number of other work-related fatalities.
She does this using a Powerpoint presentation. Groan. Seriously. Powerpoint!? She promises this will not be death by Powerpoint (though it will be death explained by Powerpoint). It is used to highlight key words and phrases, but most importantly, contains photos and a short video which add power to the presentation.
You'll appreciate that it can be quite emotionally draining, so Louise prefers to keep the number of presentations per day to 2, with a decent break between them.
How should we position Michael's Story?
She appreciates you may already have your own thoughts on how you would position it, but Louise has found it to work particularly well when someone senior within the organisation opens by setting out your commitment to health and safety and then speaks after her posing questions to the audience, getting them to think about whether Michael's story could play out in your organisation, for example:
Is there the right training for and level of competence among operatives, supervisors, managers, directors?
Are we sure we keep our risk assessments live?
Do operatives have access to the correct equipment to do their jobs safely?
Is there confidence to say no if it's felt something is unsafe?
Are our safety leaders effective at what they do?
Having listened to Michael's Story, people can be hit quite hard and need some time to reflect before engaging in any discussion. Louise can provide a question sheet to be used which gives that time, and which has the added benefit of gathering feedback on areas where further improvements could be made.
How many people can attend?
Louise feels engagement works best when there are between 50 and 150 present. However, she has spoken to audiences numbering anything from 5 up to around 900.
Is the impact long-lasting?
Louise regularly receives feedback that Michael's Story has had a long-lasting impact on those who have heard it. And to further aid this, Louise provides a toolbox talk for use in the months after her presentation to keep the learnings live.
In addition, Louise has released short videos which can be used for this purpose. Should you wish to use these, she asks that you make a donation to Scottish Hazards, a health and safety charity close to her heart. You can watch the videos and access the donation link by clicking through to the Social Impact page on the website.
How much does it cost to have Michael's Story told?
For work within the UK, the standard day rate Louise charges begins at £1250 + travel + accommodation + VAT.
But...she appreciates that the budgets sometimes dictated by others may be more restrictive. Where this is the case, please get in touch and have a conversation. Louise is sure that cost contributed to her brother's death - be it of testing equipment, of lock-off devices, of cost quoted for the job. She doesn't want cost to be the reason her brother's story can't contribute positively to safety in your workplace. So, have a chat.
Likewise, for work outwith the UK, please get in touch.