OH&S – Safety leadership in action
Charles Milazzo, Aurecon manager Sydney, talks about his recent safety walk at the Sefton Dive and Pump Station, part of the Southern Sydney Freight Line (SSFL) project in Sydney, and how it has helped identify and resolve concerns and improve safety culture on project sites.
REX: How does Aurecon actively improve on-site safety culture on projects?
Milazzo: Safety needs to be embraced by all levels of an organisation. To improve on-site safety culture on projects, you need to improve the safety culture of the whole organisation. Having a good safety culture is about safety leadership – it’s about modelling behaviours at all levels of the organisation as leaders in Healthy and Safety (H&S). This is about personal initiatives such as safety walks and recognising individuals that promote H&S – regardless of where they sit within the business. Aurecon believes a strong H&S culture is underpinned by the tools people need to safely and effectively manage their projects and their jobs.
REX: To identify concerns at the SSFL site visit, what was your approach?
Milazzo: There are two key aspects of any safety walk or safety interaction – observation and enquiry. One must observe the site; the activities being undertaken and the procedures being used to perform the tasks. Then you can ask questions, discuss safety issues and comment on the observed behaviours. Fostering a robust and responsive health and safety culture is a critical part of our obligation to our employees, our clients and the communities in which we operate.
REX: What are the hazards and associated risk for the Sefton Dive and Pump Station project site?
Milazzo: First and foremost we are working adjacent a live rail corridor, so trains are the dominant hazard. In addition there are a number of construction crews working in various locations within the site area using heavy equipment including excavators, backhoes, dump trucks and mobile platforms. The risk of plant operators not seeing us is always a concern as we move around the site and therefore personal contact and interaction is a vital part of mitigating the risks.
REX: What controls are put into place to control the risk and how effective are they?
Milazzo: In and adjacent to the live rail corridor, strict compliance with the Rail Safety Act is a mandatory requirement of all workers. All workers must be holders of a current RISI (Rail Industry Safety Induction) Certificate. Site access and the proposed site activities are assessed by a qualified Protection Officer, charged to protect people in the rail corridor. At all times, our safety walk is undertaken under the control of a Protection Officer. A Safe Start CARD, a type of ‘Take 5’ (a personal risk assessment), was undertaken at various stages of the safety walk. These risk assessments are designed to remind on-site personal of the very changing environment we are working in and to stop, observe and reassess the hazards and risk before proceeding with a task.
REX: Do you look for specific behaviours; if so what are you looking for?
Milazzo: At Aurecon, we aim to create awareness and belief around health and safety. That Aurecon cares about people – our people, our clients, people and the community. I look for key behaviours that indicate an alert and enquiring disposition. It is important that our people continuously consider the environment they are working in - what has changed from yesterday when we review our Safe Work Method Statement (SWMS) in the office and what has changed from this morning on site.
REX: What are the benefits of “fresh eyes” on a site?
Milazzo: Complacency is the most dangerous behaviour we can have on a site. When workers are on a site for extended periods, working in the same environment, day after day, it is easy to take things for granted. A fresh set of eyes can often highlight a hazard and risk that has been overlooked. In addition multiple perspectives of the same situation raise the effectiveness of hazard identification and controls.
REX: How do you agree actions regarding observations/interactions to close-out the walk?
Milazzo: Continuous improvement is a key for safety. Agreeing actions and looking for ways to improve our safety awareness are positive outcomes from a safety walk. At the Sefton Dive Pump Station, the Contractor’s Safety Officer who accompanied us on the safety walk suggested an improvement to the Aurecon Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS). This was discussed with the commissioning team and the team agreed to take this improvement on board for future work.
REX: What is the importance of “leadership” doing this opposed to general rail personnel?
Milazzo: Aurecon is committed to collaborating with our clients to deliver excellence in H&S. This commitment and drive for excellence in H&S starts at the top. I believe it is absolutely crucial that senior management lead by example and show visible safety leadership. When this happens, a resilient safety culture develops through all levels of the organisation. At Aurecon our commitment to H&S aligns with our vision and values as we work to build a vibrant and brighter future for all.
Aurecon Leadership is committed to ensuring safety is prioritised at project sites and subsequently conduct regular safety walks to improve safety culture and facilitate resolution of safety concerns in a timely manner.
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