Health and Safety Culture Change

You have brought a lot to the company and we have only to thank you for that”  

Company Director & Engineering Manager

The environment 

For this Australian Land Development Consultancy, employee safety was a top priority, as was retaining their ISO accreditation for Safety, Quality and Environmental Management Systems. Working in an industry where compromised safety could mean death or serious injury, the staff knew how important it was to adopt safe practices and follow company process and yet they didn’t always follow recommendations. Recognising the need for revised processes and tools, we worked with staff to implement positive, long lasting behaviour change.

The challenge

Not following safety processes

Recognising that the concept of safety was important, it became evident following discussions with staff that staff were not following processes because:

  • They didn’t understand the tasks being asked of them; or
  • They didn’t agree with the tasks being asked of them as being the best/important enough to replace their existing behaviours

While in some cases the first situation explained the behaviour, the fear of technology and unfamiliarity with processes for the 50+ staff newly integrated into the company following a merger meant that both persuasion and explanation would be required to encourage change. 

Fear of technology

In travelling to all office sites, it became evident that staff, especially those in regional offices were more inclined to continue utilising existing processes due to their familiarity, with some still resisting even the usage of computers in their daily work. For these staff, there was a genuine fear that they would either be replaced by the technology or replaced because they couldn’t use it.

The strategy

Having taken the time to understand the habits that seemed hardest to change and examining those which would have the greatest positive impact, we designed a hybrid change, training and communications strategy largely entrenched in gamification and behavioural science principles to encourage staff to be more proactive about on-site safety and environmental conservation.

To address the fear of appearing foolish or obsolete a playful strategy was adopted. Facilitating workshops for groups of up to 25 staff, we brought along props and practice scenarios to encourage staff to understand what near miss and minor incidents were and when and how to log them. 

This strategy utilising gamification and incentives was also incorporated into initiatives to improve environmental conservation and adherence to internal processes and procedures. Working to improve employee engagement and ownership for environmental and quality processes, we utilised behaviour change strategies to implement the following initiatives:

  • OFI (opportunities for improvement) of the Month (as chosen by the Managing Director)
  • Creation of new quality, safety and environmental committees of between 5-20 staff each to champion these new initiatives

The outcome

  • Transitioned across all 8 offices to new online platform with 90% adoption within 3 months.
  • Increased near miss incident reporting and reduced staff injuries by 30%.
  • Increased staff reporting of continuous improvement opportunities by 150% (up to 10-15 suggestions per week)
  • Improved recycling and energy usage habits of staff in head office of 150 staff resulting in cost savings and a reduction in overhead expenses.