A Positive Safety Story

A Positive Safety Story

Had a great response to yesterdays post: Isn’t Safety Supposed to be a Positive Thing?. This one is from Daniel Kirk:

Positive safety story for you.

Some time ago now the Construction company I was part of won a tender for the earthworks associated with a new underground mine. Part of the preliminaries was the project risk assessment, from this the EPCM were to write the project SOP.

Despite the stories about who is meant to participate in these, in the past they had generally been written by the safety people and possibly a couple of supervisors. On this occasion, we decided to do something different and use a full cross section of the workforce which ended up being 20 people. These guys were all experienced in their trade and were conversant with basic risk assessment i.e. JHA/Take 5 but this was the first time they had done a project assessment. We booked a room at the local Tafe and went to it.

My role was to facilitate and record the risk assessment, prior to starting we did a quick review of how the process works and set the ground rules for consensus i.e. discuss robustly but in the end majority rule when it comes to risk levels. The crew knew each other reasonably well having worked as a team on a previous project.

To say the least, the early work was tedious and painful, the more junior guys were looking to myself and their supervisors for guidance as this was the way things had been always done. After the second day I could see we needed to change tack, so over a beer with the Supervision, we came up with a plan to get the others involved, basically we decided to drag the others into the conversation by asking them for their opinions before giving any of ours.

It took a while but eventually the guys came out of their shell and realise that in this forum, their opinion was as valid as anyone else’s no matter who they were. There were a number of really positive outcomes from this:

1. The risk assessment we came up with was great and stood up really well for the life of the project

2. The positive two way communication and rapport that developed between all of us in that exercise transferred to the project, a lot of issues were solved in the paddock by just “having a conversation, listening to each other and solving the issue themselves”.

3. A lot of the senior people involved in the exercise, including myself learned a valuable lesson in conversation, listening skills, respecting the views of others and communicating with the workforce.

4. I thought I was reasonably knowledgeable about what we did as a group but after listening to these guys, I learned a hell of a lot more about what they did and vice versa.

Daniel Kirk

Daniel Kirk

Daniel Kirk

Daniel Kirk

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Daniel Kirk
I have involved in Safety for around 25 years in various capacities from Safety Trainee to HSET Manager. I have a Diploma in OHS, Cert iv in Training and Assessment as well as other qualifications. The major part of my career has been in heavy construction including Rail, Roads, Bridging, Earthworks, Gas Infrastructure including Gas Fired Power Stations, Mining Infrastructure, State and Local Government Roles and Indigenous Housing Projects. My roles have mainly taken me to Western Australia, The Northern Territory and Queensland. I have been a Volunteer Firefighter for around 30 years with the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services, however, the FIFO lifestyle and age have curtailed these activities in recent times.

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