Case Study

Dave Chambers

Our Countdown to zero injuries

Dave Chambers, Managing Director Progressive Enterprises

The situation

In the past few years we have undergone a fundamental change in the way we view workplace health and safety. For many years our lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) had not fallen below 20.

Many of our 18,500 team members use potentially dangerous equipment on a daily basis, from high-powered band-saws in the meat works to fine meat slicers in our supermarket delis, or manoeuvre heavy loads on a forklift. Then there are 135 million customers walking through our stores each year. Let’s just say we have a diverse and significant risk profile. Though we developed a health and safety programme in 2007, it was another two years until our process and workplace culture began to change and we began to see results. 

What we did

Some important steps we took included ensuring we were measuring the right outcomes, driving the right behaviours among our front line managers; and building credibility with our staff through meaningful investment in safety. This included things like spending many thousands of dollars improving the guarding systems on our deli slicers. We also designed a unique guarding system for our band saws in our meat plant. We improved our reporting culture by actively discouraging under-reporting and raising the level of accountability for serious injuries. Instead of looking for fault the focus is now on having a conversation about what we’ve learned and how to share that knowledge.

The results

We have realised that real safety is about demonstrating a genuine concern for our people. Our Countdown to Zero health and safety programme, launched last year, is about setting our own robust health and safety standards and making sure that workplace safety is something all our staff play a part in. We’ve seen our LTIFR, which was above 20 prior to 2007 and down to 12 by the end of 2009, fall in the last few months to less than 5.  We still haven’t reached our goal of zero, but I now believe we can achieve that.