Load restraint is one of the high-risk activities associated with road transport, particularly within steel transport.
Over-centre load binders (commonly called 'dogs') and pipes used as extension handles (commonly called 'cheater bars') have been a known source of injuries within the transport industry for many years. Major injuries have been caused and continue to be caused by the quick snap release of the dog. They are also a known cause of sprains and strains through over tensioning.
Toll Global Logistics' approach to BlueScope Steel's requirement of having 'no dogs' on their loads was one that was taken seriously, yet cautiously, by both employees and management.
Following a development and trial period to determine appropriate binders to replace 'dogs' and 'cheater bars', it became clear that the real challenge was a cultural change.
Initiative to improve workplace health and safety
The elimination of 'dogs' and 'cheater bars' required trialling new binders to find a viable alternative to the existing workplace practice. This, in conjunction with a comprehensive change management plan and giving ownership of the project to its drivers, Toll Global Logistics was able to achieve its objective of 'No Dogs'.
Toll Global Logistics' management of the change process included:
- Giving drivers and employees the opportunity to adjust to change.
- The team was given 18 months to be 100 per cent compliant with 'No Dogs'. This goal was achieved eight months ahead of schedule.
- Encourage a change in workplace thinking about how things have always been done, from "why eliminate dogs?" to "how do we find a safer alternative?"
- Keeping the conversation going with drivers.
- This included addressing issues and discussing solutions as they arose at the 'training trailer'.
- Giving drivers and employees a choice when selecting alternative binders throughout trials.
- The training trailer was set up with a range of alternative commercially available binders.
- Getting feedback from drivers during trials.
- This included follow-up and review of alternative and commercially viable binders with staff.
- Implementing risk assessments and consultation with occupational health and safety personnel and employees on the use of new equipment.
- Conducting classroom training for all staff and management.
- This training was provided by an occupational therapist.
- Provision of safe manual handling training by the binder suppliers.
- Deployment of a standard operating procedure for safe use of equipment to all staff.
- Review of reported faults with binders assessed by Toll occupational health and safety committee and implementation of a process of improvement to binders in conjunction with suppliers.
Role of senior management
- Fostered cultural change by keeping the 'conversation' going between management and workers.
- Management actively engaged workers in the 'No Dogs' project by encouraging their input in the process, the development of training programs and the availability of an occupational therapist, implementation and review.
- Developed a comprehensive review document on all binder types including 'dogs'.
- Document included risk assessment feedback forms, injury statistics and recommendations. The document became the foundation for the implementation plan.
- Communicated the implementation plan widely.
- Set up "management of change" systems to encourage and support cultural change.
- Adopted a flexible approach.
- Drivers and employees were given time to adjust to 'No Dogs', the opportunity to compare dogs and binders and the means to report their feedback about 'No Dogs'.
Outcomes and benefits
As a result of the comprehensive change management process and giving ownership of the project to the drivers, Toll Global Logistics was able to achieve significant cultural change within the workplace.
The drivers eventually embraced the change for 'No Dogs' and, through the process, became aware of how to identify risk and implement controls to reduce risk.
Feedback from the drivers about the elimination of 'dogs' included:
- "…Should have been using them 20 years ago..."
- "… I will never use a dog again…"
- "…What took so long to get rid of dogs...?"
The project took eighteen months and had a number of setbacks. In the end, it resulted in a change to longstanding workplace practice and it achieved the goal of a safer working environment.
How could this innovation or action help industry?
The process undertaken by Toll Global Logistics demonstrated a change management process that was not only effective, but also an example for others within the industry. Toll Global Logistics provide a lead for other transport operators in managing a significant change in their business to provide a safe practice for securing loads.
- Have a plan.
- Engage staff.
- Listen and act on feedback.
- Be prepared to delay.
- Celebrate success.
Learn more on load restraints.