Case Study

Mike Bennetts

CEO intervention supports contractor safety

Mike Bennetts, CEO, Z Energy

Shutdown over safety

In 2011, I shut down work on a $35 million nationwide rebranding of Z Energy’s service stations for nearly six weeks over concerns about contractor safety. I took this step because I believe I have accountability for the safety of our contractors. I wanted to intervene in a way that would make a difference. If I’d sent an email no one would have taken much notice. But when I stopped the work – well, that got everyone’s attention.

Leader’s commitment

At Z we’re personally committed to the safety of everyone who helps make our business a success. I also have a personal commitment to safety. Frankly, I don’t ever want to have to ring up someone’s mother or brother or son and tell them, I’m really sorry but while your loved one was contracted to us they were killed. The shutdown sent a clear message to our contractors that we are serious about their safety. It also gave us time to work out what we had to do to support them to keep safe.


Prior to me intervening we had three breaches of our life-saving rules at the first 10 service stations being rebranded. Following the intervention there were seven breaches over the remaining 200-odd sites. Clearly the frequency of breaches declined significantly. Importantly, we also met our quality and budget goals – and logistical improvements prompted by the shutdown meant we also hit the project’s hard delivery deadline.