At the time, this global mining company had taken over a mining operation, that in the past was not profitable. This organisation was running the mine site much leaner and more effectively, employing 600 employees where there were previously 1300 doing the same job. Furthermore, this organisation wanted to create the desired culture from the beginning and had engaged People Solutions to assist them with selecting all staff. As part of this, all new employees completed an Individual Safety Attributes Test (ISAT).
While the company had created a culture of being flexible and nimble, there were some areas of improvement to be made in relation to safety. An internal safety culture survey, and later a Department of Mines and Petroleum audit exposed some major challenges that needed to be addressed, one of these was safety leadership development.
More specifically, the organisation needed to focus on safety behavioural change at the Supervisor level to achieve the following: increase the level of engagement and performance of safety initiatives, develop their coaching skills, improve their accountability in demonstrating appropriate safety behaviours, increase how consistently they observe and intervene on at-risk behaviours and increase their effectiveness in adhering to and communicating guidelines.
They could have addressed this through an off-the-shelf safety leadership product, however they chose to commit to a sustainable process rather than a quick fix, to ensure knowledge and skills learnt transferred into the workforce. The organisation engaged People Solutions to work with them on the above challenges.
Using the results from the ISAT and other organisational safety metrics (e.g. safety audits, interviews with a cross-section of employees and safety surveys), People Solutions developed and delivered a bespoke Safety Leadership Program for Senior Leaders and Frontline Supervisors. Key areas of focus were: Accountability, Responsibility for safety, Consistency in Applying Rules, Coaching and Mentoring, Intervening on At-Risk Behaviours, Proactive Safety, Communication and Confidence in Delivery.
To ensure a sustained change in behaviour, People Solutions took the following approach to the Safety Leadership Program.
- A Foundation and a Recall Workshop – 2 workshops, 6 weeks apart. This allowed time in between for practical application of learnings, and reinforcement of key messages multiple times across a significant period.
- Group Coaching Process – Adopting a coaching facilitation style, the end goal was to transfer the skills and knowledge to the Supervisors to then use on the job. Theories and frameworks were discussed and developed in a practical, hands-on manner. Supervisors received feedback from the facilitator and their peers as well as opportunities to reflect on the development of their safety coaching skills.
- Action Learning Projects – This was a key component of the program. Each Supervisor decided on a project to improve their own safety leadership through the achievement of a goal that was critical for the organisation to achieve. Examples of these were: improving safety meetings, PPE compliance improvements and engineering control solutions.
- Ongoing Accountability – in between, and after the workshops, our facilitator and internal Supervisors checked-in via phone/email to assess the progress of projects.
- Management Round Table Project Presentations – At the end of the program, Supervisors presented what they had achieved to the Senior Management Group. A key step in creating behavioural change.
During and post the Safety Leadership Program, the organisation saw an increase in many of the lead safety indicators such as Supervisor observations/interventions, increased compliance with regulations and increased quality of toolbox talks. Supervisors also reported they felt more confident in their safety leadership skills, and their projects had a positive impact on site.
Supervisor results on the ISAT suggested the number of Supervisors who could identify the most appropriate and inappropriate behaviours in safety critical situations remained at, or increased in 15 of the 25 attributes, post program. The Superintendent ratings of the Supervisors safety communication increased from 2 to 16 qualities, where Supervisors (on average) were rated as competent to strong, 3-months after the program had finished.
Furthermore, over a 12-month period from the program starting (and the implementation of a whole range of safety initiatives by the organisation), LTI severity rates went from 25 to 0 and LTI frequency went from 0.70 to 0.10.