Innovation is affecting all corners of the business world, yet it has never been more important than in redefining the health & safety culture of our resource industries.
Accidents in this field can be particularly lethal, so it’s imperative that we look to technology to help streamline workflow and procedures to develop a safety-first focus, with business productivity enhanced as a by-product.
Case in point is a recent incident in the mining sector, where a fatigued driver was involved in a car accident of which he sustained serious injuries. The driver was awarded $1.25 million in damages – a serious wake-up call for the accountability of industry to its workers’ safety, on and off-site.
JESI is one such tool that helps companies monitor their employees’ safety on the road, while other initiatives such as Queensland’s Safer Together are bringing some well-needed attention to this industry issue. I spoke to one of the key drivers of this initiative, Page Maxson, to gain further insight into how health & safety excellence can be achieved through innovation.
Here are Maxson’s top tips for safety success:
Safety first, always
Maintaining a solid safety culture is a continuous effort and involves a lot of hard work. When your organisation goes through periods of change, maintaining that culture can present one of the more challenging parts of that change cycle. In fact, it’s difficult to maintain that safety-first focus at all times, but it should always be at the forefront.
Be proactive, not reactive
It’s important to focus on how we get ahead of health & safety practices, rather than looking in the rearview mirror after someone has been hurt. Like anything else in business, innovation is key to making things easier in the health & safety space. This could include looking at workflow and removing the potential hazards. This can benefit throughout the entire organisation, as when we look to remove identified hurdles, the essential part of the work can get done easier and safer.
Make the most of the software tools that are being developed for managing and executing safety and workflow processes. The better your organisation incorporates these, the less likely you will face challenges and mistakes mid-project. The resource industry is a little bit slower in health & safety innovation than others, not for lack of will, but due to the intensive engineering aspect and equipment required. But that’s why it’s so important.
Safety engagement is paramount, as ultimately we are all humans and safety is linked to our behaviour and decisions that we make. Technology is key to helping this evolve, an example being the Safer Together initiative in Queensland, where anyone working in the field can take a safety culture survey on their personal mobile device with the results coming up in real time. This enables teams to have on-the-spot conversations about the challenges and solutions for improved safety processes. Teams can engage and develop action plans while the conversation is fresh. This is incredibly valuable and leads to much better implementation.
Step in early and don’t wait for an accident to go and investigate what happened. Build teams that go out and engage with different parts of the work group and ask: “What is difficult for you during your routine?” Work with the people on the ground and redesign the process upfront so that it’s easier for them to execute.
Collaboration is key
Collaborative environments enable people to get ideas to take back home to their organisation, and also leave behind suggestions for others to consider. As that’s been going on, we’ve seen significant improvements in safety and a reduction of injury rates. Five years ago, we were in the fourth quartile of global safety performance with significant room for improvement. We are now probably down into the second quartile.
Safety is everyone’s concern
Safety is owned by the entire workforce, from the CEO down to the line, and not just by any singular department. Leaders need to talk to people on the ground and spend time on the work front every day. One thing I’ve learned over the years is not to walk around with the job site management in a group of twenty. Go by yourself, and just talk to people. You’ll pretty quickly get a feel for how the safety culture is on that site.