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Gay Constructions, Murarrie

Winner – Best demonstrated leadership in work health and safety

Finalist (Commended) – Most significant improvement to work health and safety performance

Established in 1959, Gay Constructions is a privately owned small to medium enterprise specialising in steel fabrication. Gay Constructions' lost time injuries and reportable safety incidents were increasing, and due to the large number of claims, the company's workers' compensation insurance policy was close to being cancelled.

FILM: Queensland Safe Work  Awards 2014:  Category eight finalist –  Gay Constructions

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Queensland Safe Work Awards 2014
Best demonstrated leadership in work health and safety

Finalist: Gay Constructions

Brett Mathieson
Managing Director, Gay Constructions

Gay Constructions is a privately owned company and our primary activity is steel fabrication and we supply to the market primarily in Queensland and New South Wales.

When I took over the management of Gay Constructions, the single greatest risk we had to this company not succeeding was not our ability to be able to produce a good quality product, but our very, very poor safety record.

Addressing the sort of problem we had was something that wasn't going to happen overnight so we took a very much long term approach where we had to create a cultural change and that was a step by step process where we had to get ownership by all the stakeholders, where we had to create the correct guidelines, where we had the communication set-up where people felt comfortable about reporting incidents and also about how we reacted to the incidents that came along.

In the early days there was a level of scepticism from the workshop floor about my commitment or seriousness to the outcome, so as a result basically on the first day here I made a requirement that I had to be notified of any first aid incident immediately and that included two o'clock in the morning for a Band-Aid. So they got the message very clearly that we were serious about long term, permanent change.

Initially the consultation was across the entire organisation. That was done through forums, at tool box meetings or paid meetings, where we discussed workplace health and safety and the implications of having lost time injuries with regard to our perception in the industry or in some cases our ability to actually be able to tender certain projects.

One of the key changes we made was that we re-inducted every person who worked in the company in 2010. It didn't matter whether they'd been here for six weeks or in some cases thirty years. Everybody was re-inducted so there was a clear understanding of the expectations, with regard specifically to workplace health and safety.

To me, the most significant improvement we've had, is that we have had not one lost time injury in over 680 days. We are now a benchmark as one of the best in our industry whereas four or five years ago we were at risk of losing our WorkCover premium cover because our record was so bad.

The safety culture at Gay Constructions has changed completely in the last five years. We've gone from a place where it was ok to have a minor injury as long as the guys came back after a few days to a situation where everyone takes every first aid incident and every incident seriously.

As a result we not only have a better safety culture but it has had huge flow on benefits to our productivity, profitability and the way we are perceived in our industry.

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Copyright The State of Queensland (Department of Justice and Attorney-General) 2014.

Copyright protects this film. The State of Queensland has no objection to this material being reproduced, but asserts its right to be recognised as author of the original material and the right to have the material unaltered. The material presented in this film is distributed by the Queensland Government as an information source only.