On Tuesday 7 June Peter Cooper visited our office in Ruislip to learn about our behavioural safety programme ‘Be Safe By Choice with VGC’.
This was of particular interest to me as Peter, who lives mainly in Australia but also part of the year in London, is a consultant for the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC). Between 2005 and 2008, I was the project director working for a Balfour Beatty Laing O’Rourke JV on an ARTC contract upgrading the railway between Sydney and Brisbane. I discovered that Peter knew some of the ARTC staff I worked with.
ARTC is proposing to build a new inland railway between Melbourne and Brisbane, and is exploring ways of improving safety and safety culture, with specific focus on the construction of this new railway.
VGC chairman Sean Fitzpatrick gave an overview of VGC and how it has grown over the past thirty years to the company it is today. Along with this was the need to invest in the safety and welfare of its workers.
John Hannan, VGC’s HSQE director, gave a presentation on Be Safe By Choice with VGC. He explained how the use of key influencers, drawn from the workforce, is an integral part of the programme. John’s presentation was supported by HSQE manager Richard Wheeler; key influencer Danny Parkinson was there to answer questions on how the programme works from his perspective. Danny said that at VGC everyone knows that safety is at the heart of how we work.
VGC’s managing director Laurence Mckidd explained why VGC decided to make the commitment to invest in behaviour-based safety, and how it was rolled out to the company. Operations directors Chris Ryan and Jacques Kriel described how the safety culture of VGC has been significantly reinforced by this programme. A safe working culture is now well embedded within the company.
Peter said afterwards that he considered the leadership of this culture within VGC is ‘leading edge’. He expects it will create a “long term sustainable competitive advantage for the VGC Group”.
We will maintain contact with Peter and share each other’s experiences of implementing behavioural safety, because we consider that improving safety within our industry is something that we all must contribute to.
The Be Safe by Choice programme was developed with Steve Wiskins of Inspiring Safety Solutions.