We have found over the years that the majority of accidents on our sites are caused through non-compliance with existing company procedures. Largely, this non-compliance is due to either the failure of the company to inform the employees of what is expected (lack of knowledge of the policies and procedures that have been developed); or the failure of the employee to abide by these policies and procedures (the behaviour of our employees).
“By trying to increase the reporting of near misses and hazards we are able to concentrate on rectification of the issues and training.”
Therefore, we are taking up the challenge on two fronts at Dutco McConnell Dowell: firstly, to ensure our employees understand what is expected of them; and then once they know what is expected of them, ensuring that they behave in a manner consistent with those expectations.
Our company induction process is where the process of informing our employees of their obligations and responsibilities commences. We have developed a company induction DVD that introduces our new employees to the company and explains in detail what we stand for, what is expected of our personnel with regards to their behaviour and the company culture, our safety philosophy and our 10 golden rules of safety. The DVD is presented by a number of company employees, including senior management, safety personnel and members of our staff of differing cultural backgrounds. The DVD, which is compulsory viewing for all employees, is dubbed into a number of languages to ensure all our employees are able to view and understand the messages portrayed.
The DVD, however, is only the start of the induction process. It must then be followed up by project-specific inductions and a continual process of induction into the project-specific procedures and processes, as well as job-specific training throughout the construction phase, to ensure that each employee understands the activities that will be carried out, the hazards that exist and how these hazards change with the site conditions. This process takes place through risk assessments for all activities and updates as conditions change; job safety and environment analysis for all activities; daily pre-start talks (or at the very least pre-start talks prior to commencing a new activity); and toolbox meetings.
From an analysis of incident reports, we have found that over 90 percent of the incidents (be it a near-miss, medical treatment case or LTI) are not caused by inadequate procedures but by supervisors and workers simply not following the procedure or taking shortcuts. We found that the vast majority of us know the right way to work, but that workers and staff still at times take shortcuts that are the cause of incidents. While some end up being a near-miss incident, others end up in serious injury. As such, human behaviour is a contributing factor to most incidents.
At Dutco McConnell Dowell, we are trying to deal with the reasons for this inconsistent behaviour. We implemented a safety improvement programme at the end of 2009 for 2010 that focuses primarily on management commitment to safety, as well as the safety behaviour and culture of our employees. The success of the programme can be seen in the outstanding results last year, with an increased awareness of our behaviours shown by almost 35,000 safety observations from our workforce and over 4.5 million man-hours without an LTI. Our focus has been on ensuring our employees are reporting incidents. By trying to increase the reporting of near misses and hazards we are able to concentrate on rectification of the issues and training in the specific areas of the deficiencies before someone gets hurt.
We have a safety slogan: "Home without harm, everyone, everyday". This slogan is everywhere: compulsory wallpaper and screen saver on all company computers; featured in the company induction DVD; on all notice boards at sites and camps; company brochures and literature; company procedures; and project procedures. Our aim is to ensure that all staff understand that our vision is above all else to ensure that all our workers go home at the end of every day without harm.
We place a very high importance on visible leadership in safety. It is no coincidence that the projects that have a good safety culture and good HSE statistics are led by a project management team that takes an active role in developing and maintaining the safety culture for the duration of the project. Our project and construction managers have specific key performance indicators (KPI) that are measureable and include: participating in every weekly toolbox meeting; attending pre-start talks with the work crews; chairing safety committee meetings; presenting safety awards; regular interaction with the workers during walks around site about their tasks and what they discussed at their pre-start talks.
Our senior managers are also expected to display leadership and support the project management team. Senior managers have personal lead performance indicators that include regular visits to projects (two per month) to review HSE performance. These visits serve to demonstrate visible commitment to improve the safety culture, ensure key safety systems and processes are applied effectively, and to identify opportunities for recognition or for improvement. The key to this initiative is to engage our employees during their visits. The manager is required to tour the site with the project manager or construction manager, stop at work crews and 'Safetalk' their work activity with them.
We consider the recognition of good safety performance an integral part of improving the safety culture and safety awareness of our workforce. Each month members of the workforce who have displayed an exemplary commitment to safety are selected to receive a 'Safety Man of the Month' award. Whenever possible, safety award ceremonies are arranged to take place during the senior manager's visit so that the senior manager can present the awards to the recipients.
In order to keep our safety message fresh, our 2011 initiative is "See something, say something", which is focused on increasing the reporting of hazards and near-misses. Safety awareness amongst our workforce is considered a critical factor in maintaining a safe work environment, and the more eyes and ears we have attuned to observing or detecting unsafe conditions, unsafe behaviours and near-misses in the workplace, the better it is. We have made a concerted effort to ensure that all our personnel are aware that they have a moral obligation to look out for their co-workers, and if they see somebody working unsafely they have an obligation to stop them and not walk by. If they see something that is unsafe, they are expected to take action immediately.
Dutco McConnell Dowell's safety performance has steadily improved over a number of years, but we can never rest in our quest to keep our employees safe from injury. We must continue to be vigilant and invigorate the safety message by focusing on the behaviours of our staff and workers and the overall safety culture of our projects.
Jeremy Coles is the Managing Director of Dutco McConnell Dowell (ME) and manages the Dutco McConnell Dowell interests throughout the Middle East region (specifically, UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia). He has spent the last 16 years working in the Asian and Middle East Regions.