Mitchell Service’s Journey towards ‘Safety Differently’
Through the published work of authors such as Sidney Dekker and Todd Conklin, ‘Safety Differently’ as a concept and methodology can make a step change to the culture of an organisation. But to do this, it can’t just be driven by an external consultant it must be driven from within the organisation. Starting with leadership having a firm belief in the concepts of ‘Safety Differently’, Mitchell Services ‘Operation Homestretch’ was an initiative born out of a need to have a practical application of these concepts in an aim to reduce the number of injuries during the high risk end of year period.
Management acknowledged that the real experts are the people doing the work, not the people planning it. Operation Homestretch recognised and accessed the knowledge and experience of our workforce to improve work outcomes, including safety. An initial roll out by leadership was followed by ‘Our People Our Solutions’ which sort improvement ideas for normal work, daily discussions on team resilience and the capacity to deal with variability, and “Crew Chats” a series of videos from operational teams demonstrating that our strength comes through our diversity of backgrounds and abilities.
Building trust with our workforce was essential to the initiative’s success, and a positive communication strategy combined with a use of social media platforms, enabled management to engage with workers across the business. Aside from reducing injury and injury severity, our culture has continued to grow, with several changes in the behaviour of management including their reactions to incidents and how events are investigated and communicated. The following year’s
communications allowed us to build on our initial themes and promoted a culture of investigating and celebrating individual and team successes (“success stories”) rather than just incidents/failures and focused discussions on how we have the capacity to ‘fail safely’.
We are continuing our ‘Safety Differently’ journey so that it is just a way of doing business, and its implementation would not have been possible without gaining the internal support of our operational teams.