In the business world, health and safety can get a bad rap. It’s not the keeping safe and healthy part – who doesn’t want that?! – but the thought of all that comes with it. I’m talking mountains of paperwork, tomes of legalese and rules that might seem to be more about ticking boxes than providing practical solutions.
Fortunately there are people like Alex Thomas in the world. Alex is not your average health and safety consultant. Not only is she on a mission to make health and safety accessible and achievable for all types of businesses, particularly those in rural industries, she’s also leading a campaign to amplify rural women’s voices in that space. And as a rural woman herself, Alex knows what she’s talking about.
Alex set up the #PlantASeedForSafety campaign to celebrate rural women and the important role they play health and safety, with a focus on practical, real-world solutions that prevent people from getting hurt. The campaign is much more than a hashtag.
“Paperwork doesn’t save lives – but rural women who are prepared to #PlantASeedForSafety do,” she says on her website.
“As key influencers in their businesses, their communities and their home life, the #PlantASeedForSafety campaign seeks to raise the voices of rural women, to harness their innate care factor and to increase their confidence in their ability to influence change. To turn up the volume on what’s working well within rural industries and to dispel the myth that to have safety paperwork is to have safer outcomes.”
“It doesn’t matter what roles you fill, how long you’ve been a ‘rural woman’ or how much you know about work health and safety. You are perfectly positioned to #PlantASeedForSafety.”
It’s a simple idea: invite rural women to share their stories with her and then share them via her website. And they do. From all over regional and remote Australia and New Zealand, across a wide range of rural industries. Everyone from young women embarking on their careers to grandmothers working behind the scenes are telling her their stories.
The campaign gives voice to common concerns about health and safety in rural settings, provides practical suggestions and celebrates the achievements of the women featured. And in doing so, it makes health and safety relatable, interesting and do-able.
And yes, if you’re wondering, I have a hand in helping get those stories out. Alex contacted me last year for some help in shaping up the responses for publication (like so many women in business, juggling it with her main gig as consultant, public speaker, workshop facilitator and more doesn’t allow as much time for the project as she’d like). We clicked immediately and I loved everything about the project.
You can read some of the stories I’ve worked on here, here, here and here.
I love #PlantASeedForSafety because it amplifies women’s voices in industries that can be traditionally seen as ‘men’s work’ and shows that all rural women, whether hands-on in a business or not, can have a powerful influence on health and safety. And in accessing their voices, you get a real sense of how diverse and powerful rural women are.
Workplace health and safety may be un-enticing when we think of it in terms of policies and procedures, but at its heart it’s about people remaining safe and happy, and Alex is doing her bit to help that happen.
Follow Alex on Instagram or search the hashtags #PlantASeedForSafety and #SaveALifeListenToYourWife