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Case study: Engineering and construction firm delivers award winning safety improvements

A bottom up approach to safety and a focus on reducing fatalities and permanently disabling injuries has seen the engineering and construction firm Tenix awarded a National Safety Council of Australia excellence award.

Tenix provides design, construction, operation, maintenance and asset management services and systems to owners of gas, electricity, water, wastewater, heavy industrial and mining infrastructure across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. It operates in high-risk industries including construction and engineering services.

Aspiring towards Zero Harm

Through its Work Health and Safety (WHS) management system and a Critical Risk Campaign conducted in November 2011, Tenix identified that most high risk activities on their projects and programs of work required a more rigorous level of risk control.

To address this, it established a suite of Fatality Prevention Protocols (FPP's) to establish the minimum requirements for managing risks associated with high risk activities through the use of higher order and more rigorous risk controls.

Fatality and Serious Injury Prevention Program

When introducing the Fatality and Serious Injury Prevention Program last year that the FPPs formed part of, General Manager Health, Safety, Quality and Sustainability, Martin Smith said a top -down project wouldn't win hearts and minds.

"The safety people were involved in the process and provided input and data, but they didn't drive it. It was driven by our operational people," he said.

They ran workshops in the business to identify fatal risks and whether controls for fatal risks were adequate. The exercise revealed over-reliance on low level controls.

This has improved the quality and integrity of controls for high-risk activities and the understanding of risk management knowledge and techniques at each level of the organisation, resulting in fewer and less severe high-potential incidents. It also provided the basis for ongoing safety audit activities.

Additional training and good results

Tenix put 600 of its workers through a new training course on fatal risks last year. The program resulted in more resilient management systems, engaged operational leadership and an improvement in operational risk-management activities.

“We can never declare victory with this because fatal risk is at the centre of most of the work that we do as a contractor. Everybody now in the business knows what is expected and knows there are tools there to support them in doing their job more effectively in this area,” Martin said.

Safety recognition

Tenix achieved its National Safety Council of Australia excellence award in the Best Continuous Improvement of a WHS Management System category.

The judges said the program resulted in a collective shift in understanding of the control of high-risk activities at every level and a reduction in the number and severity of high-potential incidents.