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Bottom-up approach pays off for Secon

Secon Freight Logistics overhauls occupational healthy and safety standards, giving its workers more authority and reaping dividends in return

By Brad Gardner | April 19, 2012

A bottom-up approach to occupational health and safety aimed at driving changes at the coalface has paid off for Melbourne-based outfit Secon Freight Logistics.

The wharf cartage and warehousing operation run by the five Considine brothers decided in 2010 to bin about eight years of work on OHS and start from scratch.

CEO Terry Considine says the top-down approach of management drumming the safety message into staff was not enough to prevent a high number of minor incidents such as slips, strains and cuts.

The company brought in an external consultant who advised Secon to switch focus and give workers a direct role in managing their safety, such as monitoring standards, designing signage and designating walkways.

Two years on, Considine says the changes have delivered significant gains.

“We’ve seen a major drop-off in incidents in general. And that goes from truck drivers to forklift drivers and everyone in our organisation. The number of incidents we have had has dropped off,” he says.

“We’re actually seeing at the bottom level guys pulling up pedestrians that come onto the site and making sure that they know where they should be and they’ve got their safety vests on and all of that. Whereas before that might have been a supervisor, now Joe Bloggs the forklift driver is willing to do it.”

As part of the changes, Considine says each division was given a safety checklist to tick off each month. Employees rate themselves out of a score of 100. When the score falls below 100, they work out what went wrong and how to rectify it.

General Manager Steve Nailer, who Considine credits as the “driving force” behind the changes, says Secon has handed workers the authority to be involved in their own safety.

“What the consultant advised us was, let’s start from the bottom [and] get everyone engaged at the bottom. Instead of having 10 pairs of senior management eyes, we’ll have 100. And it’s driven by our people,” he says.

Check out the May edition of ATN for the full story on Secon Freight Logistics’ approach to training its workforce and improving safety.

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