Grocon reduces injury numbers and frequency rate
Grocon, an Australian construction and development company, wanted to achieve a better safety record than its peers. However, to translate goals into reality, the company needed to shift its safety culture.
The construction industry, says Grocon, had traditionally accepted safety records deemed unacceptable by world-class performers and the longer serving employees and leaders of the company worked with the attitudes that could lead to prioritising project deadlines before safety considerations. And that’s not all - the safety management traditionally practised was compliance driven and of a policing nature, with a focus on disciplinary action.
In 2006, Grocon was introduced to DuPont methodologies and tools that could assist the company to achieve world-class safety standards. In 2008, the company commissioned DuPont to assess its practices and performance in a number of critical areas. The findings were benchmarked against world-class safety standards and the ensuing gap analysis showed some areas of excellence and some opportunities for improvements.
As a result of this initial activity, DuPont worked with Grocon’s leaders to develop a detailed and tailored improvement plan. It aimed to integrate safety into the organisation’s strategy, structure and culture, with a plan that catered for every employee and subcontractor.
Grocon’s safety culture transformation involved a three-year intensive partnership with DuPont. Training involved key modules such as conducting safety observations and incident investigations, as well as developing the most effective interpersonal skills required to deliver and adopt the safety message. Managers received one-on-one DuPont coaching to develop the leadership skills to understand, feel and demonstrate an active commitment to safety. Grocon’s achievements are the result of strategic implementations that filtered from the CEO’s office, through line management to site workers and subcontractors. The chart shows Grocon’s national safety data from 2008 to 2011. It depicts how the company managed to achieve a significant reduction in total injury frequency rate (TIFR), lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) and medical treatment injury frequency rate (MTIFR).
“The guidance that DuPont has given us, the tools and measures, the training and the way to position ourselves to tackle the right things, and to sequence our plans appropriately, were quite enlightening,” said Daniel Grollo, CEO, Grocon.
Grocon suggested its subcontractor Apps Electrics undertake DuPont coaching and training. Sustainability and reliability were key values for Apps Electrics and played a part in its leaders’ decision to accept Grocon’s suggestion. Michael Sharpe, Director, Apps Electrics, was introduced to safety leadership by a Grocon site worker, who approached him as he made his way to a site office. He discussed with Michael that he wasn’t wearing the required safety gear. “I thought it was really impressive that this guy took the time to walk over to me and explain that I was not following safety procedures,” said Sharpe. Apps Electrics has recorded a 73% reduction in its TIFR from 2010 to 2011.
The speed with Grocon’s state teams progressed varied: while Victoria and New South Wales were quick to embrace change, Queensland took longer to adapt. Reflecting on the three years of transformation, senior managers recall being introduced to some challenging ways of thinking. “The initial challenge was getting alignment with subcontractors and a fair bit of education was needed to get them onto the same wavelength as Grocon. It took time for them to adjust,” said Dayne May, Queensland Project Manager.
Once the Queensland team understood and accepted the concepts of safety leadership and the program was fully underway, there was an acceleration of injury reduction. By the end of November 2011, Queensland had achieved 84% reduction, from 80 down to 13. Despite differences in the rate of acceptance, hard work and the safety leadership of its managers saw Grocon nationwide achieve a reduction in TIFR.
In 2011, Grocon’s safety culture was recognised by WorkSafe Victoria with the awarding of the ‘OHS Management System of the Year’. The company has also won the ‘Best workplace health and safety management system - Private sector’ in the 7th annual Safe Work Australia Awards.
Today, everyone at Grocon sees safety in a new way, the kind that goes beyond compliance and legislation to a lifestyle. People make safe choices because it’s what they want. Grocon continues working to become the industry leader in safety, sustainability, community and innovation. As John Van Camp, Head of People and Culture, observes: “This engagement process has certainly paid great dividends - it is an ongoing journey and we cannot relax. It needs to be relentless.”
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