Hockridge oversees new safety culture

Injuries decline as Aurizon's culture improves

Hockridge oversees new safety culture
Aurizon CEO Lance Hockridge.


CEO Lance Hockridge says Aurizon’s safety record has been a key focus during his leadership at the rail giant, with significant improvements since he joined what was then Queensland Rail (QR) in 2007.

Speaking to the Bond University business leaders’ forum last week, Hockridge described the government-owned entity as a bureaucratic dinosaur.

"While QR was a respected rail operator with extraordinary potential, on occasions it felt like I had gone back in time," he says. "We were buried in bureaucracy, customers took a back seat, and safety was appalling. 

He says the 2010 privatisation of the QR business provided the biggest catalyst for change.

"Here was an opportunity for genuine transformation, beyond a new name and a new logo."

The cultural change he engineered included a new workforce-wide attitude on safety.

"From trackside to senior management, I was told that accidents were inevitable," he says. "I could not accept this.

"Fundamentally it was and is about behavioural change."

Hockridge says he instilled a sense of responsibility for safety across the workforce, both in terms of individuals and teams.

"I gave every employee licence to challenge on safety; no matter if it was the company chairman or their closest mate."

"Most employees now believe all injuries are preventable."

Aurizon has reduced the amount of time lost to injury by 97 per cent since 2010.

"But most importantly, the improvement means we have reduced the number of employees seriously injured by 100 over this same period."

Hockridge says the same cultural change has also made the company more customer-centric and values-driven.

"In the five years since the float, labour productivity has increased almost 60 per cent."


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