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Everhard Industries - Getting safety right

Everhard Industries is a water and wastewater product manufacturer that has been owned and run by the same family since 1926.

Everhard began with a small factory in Bulimba, Brisbane and now has offices in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia employing over 240 workers. What was once Queensland's first laundry tub manufacturing business is now a national company that designs and produces over 3,500 products that are used world wide.

Project description

Everhard's safety program is about continually working together towards a goal of “getting safety right”. Everhard does not accept “it has always been done this way!”, especially if safety within the workplace can be improved, and considers safety improvements in the same way they consider other parts of their business – there is always a better way to do it.

Everhard's “Getting safety right” program improves health and safety performance in a number of ways and focuses its efforts at both senior management and employee levels.

Initiatives to improve workplace health and safety

Everhard is committed to building a strong safety culture. To accomplish this Everhard integrates safety into its everyday business and achieves a strong safety culture through:

  • engaging with the workforce:
    • holding regular safety meetings at all sites
    • encouraging active participation in group activities, such as Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's PErforM (Participative Ergonomics for Manual Tasks) program, where workers are involved in identifying both manual task issues and solutions
    • integrating PErforM into the company's risk assessment process and encouraging management buy-in
    • encouraging workers and families to be actively involved in safety-related activities such as annual Safe Work Month events.
  • environment and quality management
    • phasing out old equipment
    • making safe production of items a core element of their quality management system
    • equipment testing undertaken according to relevant standards.

Role of senior management

Everhard recognises that a strong safety culture is built by leaders at the top of the organisation. While line manager's safety performances are monitored through key performance indicators, the company recognises that all staff are accountable for safety in the workplace.

Everhard management ensures that time and resources are allocated to health and safety initiatives. At present, management is concentrating on integrating environment, safety and quality assurance into one seamless system.

Senior managers are involved in incident and hazard investigation in their area of responsibility. They also report back the findings and control measures implemented to the CEO and all other managers at the monthly safety review meeting. This provides an opportunity for all managers to learn from the experiences of each section.

Senior managers provide a BBQ for workers as a reward for good safety performance.

Outcomes and benefits

Everhard's growing safety culture has delivered a consistent reduction in workplace health and safety incident rates.

The safety culture has also been a driving force behind workers' and their families' active participation in health and safety initiatives such as Workplace Health and Safety Queensland's Safe Work Month activities.

Moving forward, Everhard will incorporate PErforM into the company's standard risk assessment process. Preliminary results from the PErforM pilot suggest this simple risk management tool is well received both by the workers on the floor and senior management.

How could this innovation/action help industry?

This program involves a process that requires senior management involvement and accountability and supports input from all levels through engagement and consultation. This approach is applicable to any organisation regardless of size or industry as it utilises a streamlined system to addressing core health and safety issues within the workplace.

The program aligns with the Zero Harm at Work Leadership Program charter principle of fostering a workplace culture where thinking about health and safety is as natural as thinking about quality, profit or customer service. The program demonstrates to industry that commitment to the principles of zero harm can result in staff longevity and an improved safety culture.

Lessons learned

  • A healthy company culture results in happy long-term employees, and contributes to a strong safety culture.
  • Safety performance should be treated the same way as other business elements. Something can always be improved through correct identification, analysis and good management.
  • Involve workers in identifying issues, trialling and selecting solutions.
  • Allocate time and resources to focus on health and safety.

Recognise and reward positive health and safety behaviour.