Seven steps to maximising safety and profits

Monday, 19 April, 2010


Safety and profitability can and should coexist in every company, even in industries like mining and construction, where hazards are a daily issue for workers and production schedules are critical to management. For safety and profitability to successfully coexist, it is essential for the people who employ workers in these fields to understand that an outstanding safety record is directly linked to the company’s bottom line.

Most companies actively promote safety to their existing staff, but when it comes to screening and selecting staff - full-time employees and contract workers - safety is sometimes a secondary consideration.

As a national recruitment-solutions provider, WorkPac has a multipronged safety process that addresses worker safety and helps minimise clients’ operational risks. We employ around 4000 full-time equivalents among a pool of 250,000 potential employees on sites spread across Australia, undertaking both long-term project-specific and short-term temporary work. Like other labour-solutions companies, we face additional safety risks due to the diversity of our work placements.

To meet the extraordinary challenges of delivering staff to a wide range of worksites operated by a diverse group of clients and ensuring worker safety, WorkPac established an initiative that ensures safety protocols drive businesses. It’s a process that embeds safety as the number-one priority for all employees and is backed by purpose-built software that flags any attempt at shortcuts.

We believe this process delivers outstanding safety results, with a 12-year history of no fatalities, no prosecutions, no environmental incidents and no regulatory breaches. We have also retained AS 4801 safety certification, which is reviewed by an external auditor every six months. Since the system was introduced five years ago, hours lost through injury have dropped 50% year on year.

We endeavour to share our successful seven-step safety process with our clients and industry at large:

  1. Safety is part of the recruitment process. All staff undergo strict medical and fitness-for-work assessment and cannot start work without occupational health safety supervisors reviewing the results of those tests.
  2. Qualifications and licences are scrutinised. All paperwork is viewed, verified and recorded in the employee’s file along with any requirements for updates.
  3. Injuries are proactively managed. WorkPac considers itself an employer and takes those obligations seriously. An entrenched notification system ensures any injured worker is properly treated to ensure a timely return to work and the risk of aggravation reduced.
  4. Clients are audited. WorkPac is selective about who it works with. New clients undergo a workplace site inspection to ensure they offer a safe workplace. This was particularly important during the global financial crisis, because unsafe work practices were often a symptom of stresses elsewhere in the business.
  5. Ongoing site visits. WorkPac ensures that its safety commitments are being fulfilled at all times. Regular site checks ensure employees are doing the job they were assigned, that protocols are followed and that all correct safety precautions are being taken.
  6. Candidate safety assessments are regular and ongoing. The performance of candidates is constantly reviewed. Candidates are monitored and given a rating out of 10. This quantifying of performance identifies risks and ensures a commitment to continual improvement of our workforce.
  7. Incident reporting. WorkPac participates in thorough investigations of any incidents and learnings are shared with relevant parties within the week they occur. Real-time logging and communication of incidents ensures transparency and identification of potential issues.

Rather than see this ‘hands-on’ approach to safety as an intrusion, clients respond well to the systemised process. Generally they see it as being active in supporting their own efforts to entrench safe work practice and welcome our input. There’s no magic bullet, but most accidents are preventable if you do the basics and do them well.

Theresa Moltoni* CEO of WorkPac, Theresa Moltoni, oversees 37 offices servicing the mining, manufacturing, healthcare, engineering and construction hubs of Australia and is the architect of the company’s industrial relations framework.

Moltoni has 22 years’ experience in specialist recruitment and industrial relations, with prior positions including Global Head of Human Resources at Supercheap Auto, Queensland HR Manager for Telstra Mobile Communications Group, Queensland HR Manager for Franklins Supermarkets, Regional Manager of the Office of the Employment Advocate and Director of IRIQ.

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