Co-designing health and safety with your supply chain
Colin Crampton, CEO, Wellington Water
Wellington Water, which manages the water infrastructure for five client councils, was established in late 2014 inheriting the systems from two previous entities. The contracting model was run as a traditional hierarchy system. But we were missing the synergy by working together with our contractors and consultants to focus on one vision, and to look after each other. We were also facing the risk of losing contractors to major regional infrastructure projects.
Bringing everyone together
I needed to start building a relationship with the suppliers who worked with Wellington Water. I visited them all personally to let them know we wanted to have a conversation outside the contract. We brought together 15 contractors, suppliers and consultants for the first time in February 2016 and now meet every two months. We make decisions together, a co-design process – it's not just Wellington Water making decisions and telling everyone. As part of that we wanted to build honesty and transparency into the way incidents on site are reported. So, we created an instant blog where anyone could let the rest of the group know about any near-miss or incident that had happened on their site. People needed to build trust that they were not going to be judged or have to defend themselves by being open.
What we've learnt
It has taken time to build trust, but we've now seen some great results, and I know this model has the potential to continue to improve safety, health and productivity for Wellington Water and our contractors. Some of our key successes include an increase in near-miss reporting and sharing of information, ideas and health and safety models and plans; the upgrading of contracts with suppliers and consultants to reinforce the peer-to-peer model; and our contractors are reporting wider benefits for their own businesses and other clients that they work with. One thing we're continuing to work on is how the peer-to-peer relationship will be managed when it's really tested, for example after a significant incident.