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Buildcorp launches new user-focused safety system to save lives

By David O’Toole, Buildcorp Safety Manager

Since our beginnings Buildcorp has used data, training and continual learning to improve our systems that exist to ensure everyone goes home from our sites safely.

In one of our more significant improvement projects to date, we recently launched a new approach to manage health and safety risks, making it as simple and easy as possible for our site teams to understand, implement and monitor. Simply put, our overall aim in this new approach is for our people to ‘plan safe, work safe, home safe.’

How did we do this without diluting safety requirements or losing the emphasis on their importance?

The answer was to design a system around the end users, with less unnecessary paperwork and more time spent planning and managing safe work practices for the high risk tasks our teams undertake most often. We wanted the system to emphasise the simple behaviours that have a big impact on saving a person’s life.

We started by analysing our most common construction tasks and the common risks associated with them. We then focused on the high and medium risk tasks and their requirements our teams need to do to mitigate the risks, such as: checks for safely operating plant and securing tools when working at height.

The next step was to ensure the documentation of the risk management requirements, processes and reporting measures were streamlined, simple to use and easy to keep on top of. To do this, the safety requirements and checklists were structured under the three key areas we call our ‘3Ps’:

  1. People – a person’s attitude towards staying safe (training and experience)
  2. Plant/equipment – physical controls required to keep people safe (fit for purpose)
  3. Process – the plan on how the task will be done safely (usually covered in the paperwork)

The system provides more clarity on these safety requirements around these 3Ps, based on two stages:  

  1. Planning – intuitive planning tools to determine the requirements to implement during construction.
  2. Checking – efficient on-site checking tools to ensure the requirements are implemented during construction.

Check and check again

A new audit process was developed to help monitor our compliance with the safety requirements, focussing on assessing the high risk work in the ‘3P’ areas. An external independent safety auditor first observes and assesses the People and Plant conducting the construction work, and touches on the Process, to issue a compliance score. These audits are conducted monthly on every Buildcorp site without forewarning, so the findings give a true reflection on the site’s performance.

A second audit dedicated to the Process is conducted bimonthly by an internal auditor using the site safety data to better understand which processes need improvement. This audit will also look to work collaboratively with our site teams to provide support to improve the understanding and implementation of the safety requirements.

Knowledge sharing

The final step in the process was to ensure our reporting of the safety data was available in real time and easily monitored and shared across the business. So we developed an online Safety Dashboard which provides audit findings as they are observed onsite.  

Buildcorp staff, in particular our management team, find this internal dashboard useful to stay on top of findings and compare site performances to better understand where support is needed. This transparency has also motivated our site teams to stay focused on safety risk management as they see how they are performing against their peers on other projects.

Dashboard image: weighted average audit score graph.

Audit score

Dashboard image: 3Ps score graph

Safety Ps

Promising results

This new approach has been implemented since January 2016 and we’re already seeing some promising results and safety outcomes. In one example, the data showed a trend of operators not wearing their seat belts while operating moving plant such as forklifts and excavators. By drawing attention to the seat belt issue on the safety dashboard, our site teams then focused on improving compliance in this area by reinforcing the importance of seat belt use to everyone onsite and there are now projects that have improved to achieve 100% compliance in this area in audits over the following three months. This small action has a big impact on everyone’s personal safety and it’s important for us that the system covers all aspects of these high risk tasks.

We’ve also received encouraging support from safety leaders in the industry which tells us we’re onto something that could really help shape the future of user-focused safety initiates and hopefully save more lives.

The Master Builders Association of NSW Safety Department said: “We had the opportunity to use Buildcorp’s’ revised risk management process while undertaking audits on their projects. The Process displays innovative efficiency, where safety activities that are electronically recorded are interlinked to the next sequential task. This draws relevant information, developing a specific WHS report that reflects the PCBU’s level of compliance.”

Buildcorp also presented our new system to the Federal Safety Commissioner who said that our system ‘showed a willingness to streamline processes, reduce unnecessary paperwork and to develop a highly interactive vehicle for everyone in the company to be alert to issues on building sites.’