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    MAJOR CONTRACTOR TO FOCUS ON FATAL RISKS

    Laing O’Rourke rolls out radical ‘Safety Differently’ approach

    It has been reported that John Green, Laing O’Rourke Director of Health and Safety Europe, is leading a company mission to deliver “Safety Differently” which involves a move away from the culture of controlling all risks under the banner of “zero harm” towards an approach which concentrates resources on severe and fatal risks.

    The new approach follows the Laing O’Rourke Mission Zero campaign, adopted in 2010, which was similar to others in the UK construction industry, including Zero Harm at Balfour Beatty, Target Zero at Carillion and the Bam Nuttall Beyond Zero approach. Three fatal injuries on Laing O’Rourke projects during the time Mission Zero prevailed are said to have prompted the re-think on health and safety strategy.

    The company stress the new approach involves building on the foundations laid by Mission Zero with a new approach that will take the business in the right direction. Despite this reassurance it has been reported that the wisdom of the new strategy has been questioned by UCATT, the UK construction industry trades union.

    Australia leads the way

    The new UK strategy arises from work undertaken by Laing O’Rourke Australia where an approach was launched under the banner of Next Gear.

    Next Gear is said to build “safety resilience” on engagement and trust. The approach places people at the heart of safety decision-making and safety performance focused on understanding success and the many things that go right.

    Next Gear is designed to move beyond traditional safety practices and measures, by applying a framework described in the three principles:

    • People – are the solution and not the problem;
    • Positive – safety in the presence of positives not negatives; and
    • Ethical – safety is an ethical responsibility not a bureaucratic activity.
    Reduced bureaucracy, simplified systems

    These principles are supported by tactics which bring the principles to life across workplaces by:

    • Focusing on high consequence risks
    • Investigating for success
    • Reducing bureaucracy and simplifying systems
    • Empowering the workforce through engagement and trust
    • Leadership that challenges traditional thinking.

    At the heart of the approach is the belief that safety critical messages should be delivered by the business for the business. To this end campaigns and engagement programs are delivered by operational leaders, staff and workforce.

    The strategy recognises that statistics are not necessarily an indicator of safety success. This involves looking beyond failures to identify the positives.

    Comment

    The Next Steps approach to managing health and safety in construction is based on the ideas of Professor Sidney Dekker of Griffith University in Australia. The ‘Dekker’ principles are appealing.

    The challenge is to devise a safety management system based on these principles which also delivers the “reduction in bureaucracy and system simplification” sought. The aim certainly chimes with HSE policy.

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