Part two—How Metcash is role modelling desired safety behaviours

Metcash image - supervisor looking over machinery

Metcash logo 

As reported in part one of the Metcash journey, Tony McGill, Occupational Health and Safety and Injury Management Manager for Queensland is keen to develop a safety culture where workers value rules and instructions and participate in safety decisions that impact their workplace.

Metcash understands that achieving world class health and safety performance is about not only having good systems in place, but also strong leadership and personal accountability from all levels within the organisation.

‘Metcash assigns causal factors to all incidents that occur which allows us to conduct detailed trending analysis. Most of our incidents have ‘management’ and ‘personal’ factors as significant contributing causes.

Metcash Brumby site 

‘This shows us that while we have a robust OHS management system in place, we now need to turn our focus to the culture of the workplace and the hearts and minds of our workers’, Tony said.

As a start, Metcash has introduced ‘desired behaviours’ that all employers are encouraged to adopt in their everyday work. There are nine explicit safety behaviours—for example ‘I give full attention to my work and do not rush’ and ‘I do my job safely or not at all’ that are being communicated into the workforce.

In order to reinforce and embed these behaviours, Metcash has implemented a number of supporting programs. These include formalised tool box talks and team meetings, the Safety Observation tour program (see below for more details), and pocket handy cards which list the desired behaviours as well as hints on how to communicate effectively with others in the workplace.

As part of their new safety initiative, Metcash conducted a site assessment and safety culture survey at its state-wide distribution centre in Crestmead, south of Brisbane in February 2015. The assessment identified opportunities for enhancement to their business and safety culture through:

  • improved team talks
  • increased supervision levels, and
  • better feedback mechanisms.

In response to the findings, Metcash introduced Safety Observation Tours (SOT). The tours are designed to raise awareness among supervisors and managers that an independent safety culture can only be developed if workers understand how to demonstrate Metcash’s desired safety behaviours.

SOTs empower supervisors and managers to clearly communicate safety expectations, reinforce safe behaviours and correct unsafe work practices through observations, engagement and discussions with workers on the warehouse floor.

The SOT program is based on DuPont methodology and is used in many large organisations around the world. It is designed to give managers and supervisors key skills and tools that will enable them to not only observe the workforce in a more meaningful and directed way, but apply engagement techniques to gain buy-in and understanding from the workforce to change behaviours and improve safety performance. These engagement opportunities are scheduled and are a one-on-one activity, which is later recorded in a database which collects both good and bad issues and tracks performance.

Supervisor and worker in warehouse inspecting shelves

Part three of Metcash’s journey will explore how a team effort is helping employees live their safety culture.

Last updated
15 September 2015