• Defining Your Safety Culture

    4 September 2017

    As President of the Australian Branch of the Lighthouse Club and Senior Vice President with responsibility for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region at HKA, I spend a lot of time travelling throughout the region. My role provides me with an insight into the construction industry and our collective commitment to safety in the workplace, whether in the office or on-site.

    Earlier this year we introduced HKA, the new global brand that unites the former Claims and Consulting Group of Hill International and associated subsidiaries, including McLachlan Lister. Launching the new brand has shown me the importance of identifying a company’s culture – its shared values, beliefs and behaviours. Merging our worldwide operations – 960 professionals in 40 offices across 21 countries – required defining the cultural objective to ensure effective integration. In addition, integrating a positive safety culture across regions is critical to embracing best practice. But what does that mean in reality? I believe it means we practice what we preach by sharing our vision of a safe workplace.

    According to Safe Work Australia’s latest statistics, the fatality rate has decreased by 44% from 2007 to 2015. This is the lowest fatality rate since the series began 13 years ago and is contributed to by the introduction of regulations and reporting for safe work practices, particularly in the construction industry.

    Did you know that construction workers are six times more likely to die from suicide than an accident at work? And apprentices are up to two times more likely to take their own lives than other young Australian men. Alarming statistics, aren’t they? Which is why MATES in Construction was formed to provide a development program for suicide prevention and mental health and wellbeing to construction workers across Australia. Since the program was introduced in 2007, suicide rates in the construction industry have fallen by nearly 8%. The Lighthouse Club Australia is proud to support the work MATES in Construction continue to do, by sponsoring a number of their programs.

    In Australia, we are very proud of our growing portfolio of transport infrastructure projects where safety is paramount at all stages of project delivery. Exciting examples include the Australian Hyperloop Network (Hyperloop) which offers a new way to move people and freight along the East coast of Australia, solving a number of critical economic, metropolitan and regional development and infrastructure issues. Travelling at 1,000 km/h, it will be critical that Hyperloop delivers a safe ride.

    Upgrading the nation’s transport infrastructure is a key objective for the Australian Government: Sydney Metro in New South Wales, Australia’s largest PPP and one of the largest ever transport infrastructure projects; Melbourne Metro in Victoria, which includes the construction of a twin rail tunnel; and the Bruce Highway Upgrade in Queensland, the largest road project aimed at improving safety, f lood resilience and capacity.

    The last 12 months has seen growth in construction, particularly multi-level apartment developments in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In projects such as these, Safety in Design (SiD) has gained momentum, even in the absence of legislation. SiD is aimed at preventing injuries by considering risks and hazards in the planning and design process. It is initiatives such as SiD that will support Government imposed regulations and reporting and ensure we are all thinking of safety throughout the lifecycle of an asset.

    I, together with my colleagues, thrive on the day-to-day challenges of dealing with and decoding the complexity that comes with working on major engineering and construction projects. Our approach is simple. We create a culture that is committed to safety, encourages success and supports our people as they achieve the best possible outcomes for our clients.

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