Case Study

Ken Rivers

Lessons on a journey towards Zero Harm

Ken Rivers, Former CEO, Refining NZ

My problem

When I joined Refining NZ in 2007 our reportable injury rate was more than twice that of best industry levels. Worryingly, some managers thought this was okay; it was to be expected that people would get hurt on the job.

What we did about it

I acknowledged we didn’t have all the answers within the organisation. I brought in external safety experts and did a gap analysis – covering everything from procedures to investigations. To cut a long story short, the outcome was a change process fuelled by three things – visible leadership, high and well-understood standards, and good communication.

The results

We’ve gone from being a place where accidents were accepted, to one that’s shocked if someone gets a small cut on the hand. Our total recordable case frequency rate (per million exposure hours) has gone from 5.08 in 2007 to a current 12 month rolling average of 2.68. But for me safety is a journey not a destination. Even if our rates were at zero I’d want to keep working hard to make sure we stayed there. Because as soon as you take your eye off the ball there’s a risk they’ll start creeping up again.