Dennis Millard - National Compliance Manager

Sustainable Safety, Leadership & Culture Change Professional

Dennis Millard is a thought leader in organisational safety and risk management. His innovative application of the psychology of risk in other words, how humans tick and think has helped him achieve some remarkable results for high-performing businesses in an age of complexity.

With more than two decades of experience as a high-level safety professional working for some of Australia's leading organisations across the food, manufacturing, oil and gas, mining, refineries, retail, rail, and construction sectors, Dennis is a specialist with a defined difference: he helps businesses become High Reliability Organisations (HROs), able to create thriving safety cultures despite operating in often high-risk environments.

When it comes to safety, organisations typically focus on legal compliance, systems and behaviour-based safety. For Dennis, however, it's the human mind that holds the key to successful safety performance. He uses his expertise to analyse organisations as a whole, and understand how their decision making drives risk.

Drawing on the pioneering study of the psychology of risk, he's discovered that there are more than 250,000 variables that influence business process (which, in turn, is intricately linked to the safety culture). These factors include anything from individual bias and the language we use to cultural values and sociopolitical influences.

An interesting example of individual bias is the way many of us use 'micro rules' to manage our risk and safety. Loosely defined, micro-rules are like mental shortcuts that are not necessarily optimal or perfect, but good enough to achieve immediate goals. For instance, a rule of thumb, an educated guess, an intuitive judgement, guesstimate, profiling or common sense.

The problem with relying on micro-rules to help make sense of the world is that they either have no meaning or have little connection to reality, which can lead to a raft of potential dangers.

Risk Intelligence Defined

As a safety leader and niche communications consultant, Dennis has long recognised that everyone defines their own sense of risk.

How do humans even perceive risk? What are some of the filters that make us blindsided to risk? How do we practice safety based on our hardwiring? His focus is on training diverse teams within an organisation to become risk intelligent by creating a common understanding (and action plan) around safety.

His groundbreaking approach involves giving organisations the strategies to:

  • stay alert (not over confident)
  • keep challenging and updating their safety standards
  • learn to see the unknowns (manage the unexpected)
  • deal with 'safety myths', which tend to paralyse safety thinking and practice
  • understand failure
  • shy away from simplified interpretations
  • commit to resilience
  • engage in robust conversations
  • understand the rational and non-rational nature of decision making

Dennis has worked with a range of high-profile organisations including Orrcon Steel (a part of the BlueScope Group), Rio Tinto, some of the largest coal seam gas projects in Queensland, Queensland Rail and Tip Top Bakeries.

As an experienced presenter, coach and mentor, he has regularly presented at national and state safety conferences. He holds formal qualifications in risk, safety and psychology. He is a member of CSIA and an accredited Auditor for Safety Management Systems.

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