Safety is the thing we talk about first and most often. And that shouldn’t come as a surprise. The work we do is critical to the growth and prosperity of countries, but our workplaces are mills, mines, facilities, and sites where rules need to be followed so that people can go home safely to their loved ones. We sat down with Global Head of Safety, Fran Nores, this month to ask our ten most pressing Safety questions.
Fran, we launched the GFG Life Savers in October last year, why was this important for us?
Fran: When we looked at our incidents, we saw that there were similarities right across all companies within GFG. We knew we needed to focus on a core set of behaviours – we called these ‘Life Savers’.
Over 80% of our critical incidents are covered by our Life Savers. The Life Savers identify the critical behaviours we all need to have front of mind, always.
Another important element of the Life Savers is the request we have for all employees to intervene if they see another colleague doing something unsafe. With this, we are trying to build a workforce where we are all responsible for the safety of ourselves and for our co-workers. If there were a ‘silver bullet’ for Safety, this would be having a business made up of people who have the courage to intervene and not look the other way. By constantly intervening, reporting, and discussing human errors, we will develop unconscious safe behaviours with these Life Savers.
Since the launch, have there been any sites, businesses, or countries that have really embraced the Life Savers? And what did they do?
Fran: Yes, absolutely, most of the businesses across the world have started to roll-out the Life Savers and some others are planning to roll this out in Q1 of this calendar year. Different initiatives have been implemented across the businesses, which has been fantastic to see. From focus groups, toolbox meetings, pocket booklets, videos with our employees explaining each of the lifesavers, and even focus observations. There are so many great ways leaders have been drawing attention to Safety. However, we acknowledge that this is a journey, and we should use any opportunity we have each day business to discuss at least one Life Saver.
We’ve tragically seen a fatality at one of our sites this year, a first for GFG. We know that’s being thoroughly investigated and it’s not appropriate to comment on the specifics, but what can we do differently as individuals to prevent something like this from happening?
Fran: It is very sad that one of our contractors passed away in a work related incident. You are correct, this was the first fatal incident in a GFG operating site following more than 150 million working hours without a fatality. Sometimes good safety performance and trends can create a false sense of security and reduce the awareness levels of everyone. The most important learning we have to take from this incident is that we cannot take safety for granted and we have to keep safety front of mind always. We want to know that every person who shows up to work at one of our sites can go home safely at the end of their shift, and as I mentioned, we can all play a part in making sure that happens.
What are the most common injuries in our company, and how does this compare to the rest of our industry?
Fran: Most of our injuries are related to ‘hand and fingers’, and these incidents represent approximately 30% of our recordable Injuries across the whole company. This is aligned with the wider Smelting and Mining Industry. This percentage is slightly higher in our distribution businesses as the number of product to hand interactions is significantly higher than in the other businesses.
Do we see different injuries in different countries?
Fran: The types of injuries are very similar across all our businesses and regions. What is slightly different is the reporting culture across the different countries. What I observed is that the number of musculoskeletal injuries or illnesses reported in Australia is higher than in other regions, not only in our company, but also in the industry in general.
We have pockets of very good safety performance across all regions and businesses. Something I am proud of is the proactive reporting of at risk behaviours and unsafe conditions across the InfraBuild businesses in Australia, this has continued to improve since July 2020 and I have no doubt this has contributed to achieving, for the first time ever, three consecutive months Lost Time Injury Free.
What is one thing you wish people would think more about?
Fran: I would like people to continue to look after each other and to have the trust and the courage to intervene and report it. We recently had some incidents in which people were watching someone working unsafely however nobody had the courage to intervene. I would like everybody to keep in mind that when people feel something is not right they have to “stop and think” or if they’re witnessing something that isn’t right they must “speak up and intervene”!
What’s the biggest challenge for the Safety team, do you think?
Fran: The challenge on Safety is that one program does not fit all. Each business and site is in a different stage of the safety journey, based on several internal and external factors, such as site history and culture. The challenge is to road-map the safety journey in such a way that we build on the existing foundations, we integrate the “old” with the “new” and we crawl before we walk.
We often have competing pressures at work. How do we make sure that Safety is the number one priority?
Fran: Life is continually evolving and changing with competing priorities and challenges. When we talk about Safety, I don’t like to talk about priorities because priorities can continually change. Safety is something we have to integrate in everything we do. Our job is to safely produce steel and aluminium and to safely deliver renewable energy, and to safely mine iron ore and coking coal.
Finally Fran, what resources are available to our people who want to know more about Safety?
Fran: Over the last year, we have developed several resources in multiple languages. All these are available in our Global Safety Hub and Global H&S SharePoint.