All jobs are associated with some level of risk, but in our industry the risks can be particularly significant. The potential for serious injury or even death occurring while working at heights, working in confined spaces, handling hazardous materials, or working adjacent to plant movements on a congested site – to name a few – are ever present, every day.
McMahon Services’ Work, Health, Safety, Environmental and Quality (WHSEQ) team understand these risks. Therefore, fundamental to everything the team does is to ensure that every employee, everyone in a client’s team and every public person we interact with goes home safely, every day.
McMahon Services WHSEQ team is led by Craig Rutjens, who provides strategic, operational and cultural direction on the company’s safety performance. He is supported at a corporate level by WHSEQ advisors James Stockdale, Tim Cotton and Kevin Seery, and at a project level by site safety supervisors in all States and Territories, everywhere The McMahon Group of Companies operates.
2017 has been a busy year for the WHSEQ team with many safety improvement initiatives being achieved in the last 12 months.
A key role undertaken by the corporate team is maintaining compliance with our various accreditations. McMahon Services and associated operating companies have long been certified to the Federal Safety Commission Scheme, AS/NZS 4801:2001 Occupational Health & Safety Management Systems, ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management Systems, ISO 14001:2004 Environmental Management Systems and Achilles.
In 2017, the team expanded our accreditation coverage achieving Federal Safety Commission Scheme certification for McMahon Services’ Northern Territory operations, while our Melbourne, Townsville and Karratha offices were similarly incorporated into our AS/NZS and ISO accreditation umbrella.
The corporate team also implemented a regular audit schedule to assess the WHSEQ performance of projects across the country. Working in partnership with site teams, they identify any gaps in meeting accreditation compliance, and then develop and implement action plans for project personnel to undertake filling those gaps.
Maintaining accreditation is critical to our business. Without these certifications we would be unable to tender for and deliver almost all the work we currently perform for our existing client base.
The biggest initiative to come out of 2017 is the Safety Focused Personal Assessment tool, otherwise known as SLAM.
SLAM is an informal risk management process designed to assess a task prior to its commencement for the purpose of identifying and controlling hazards associated with the risk.
Astute readers will notice that SLAM is not an acronym for Safety Focused Personal Assessment, rather it is an acronym for the four steps each worker should go through in their mind before starting a task:
- STOP and think, look at each step
- LOOK before, during and after the task
- ASSESS for the right equipment to perform the task safely
- MANAGE and take action to eliminate or minimise any hazards.
SLAM cards were first trialled in the high-risk Demolition Division where it proved to be a valuable initiative.
SLAM cards were then issued to all site personnel across all projects, while training on how to apply SLAM was delivered to all site and office based personnel.
To the best of our knowledge, our SLAM system is a first for any construction company anywhere in Australia. It was created by the WHSEQ Team after observing similar systems around the world.
On McMahon Services sites, crews are not expected to record anything, but there is an expectation that they use the SLAM process all day every day. SLAM chats are also occurring on a daily basis on all sites, where teams focus on site relevant hazards, past, present and future. Crews are issued with a lanyard hosting their own SLAM card so they can refer to it at all times.
Since the introduction of SLAM, there has been a noticeable reduction in incidents and near-misses across all projects nationwide, as well as an increase in the frequency of reporting and addressing identified hazards with this process.