Culture Survey says AE Smith is on Track with Right Attitude to Safety

When it comes to workplace health and safety, having the right culture is just as important as having the right policies and procedures

22 Jan 2013


81% participation rate of all AE Smith employees – well above the industry average of 65% for survey participation – provided valuable insights

With this in mind, AE Smith National Safety Manager, Nick Daley believes measuring and understanding safety attitudes and opinions is a vital step in putting safety first in the workplace and the journey towards Zero Harm.

“Historically we’ve done a lot of work on understanding risks and preventing incidents, but we also need to understand how our attitudes toward a safe workplace can effect the ways policies are implemented day to day,” says Nick.

In July 2012, every AE Smith employee was invited to participate in the inaugural AE Smith Safety Culture Survey administered by Insync Surveys, an independent survey provider.

“Monitoring our thoughts about health and safety in the workplace and what we can do to improve is incredibly important,” he adds.

And a 81% participation rate of all AE Smith employees – well above the industry average of 65% for survey participation – provided valuable insights says Nick:

“The fact that four out of every five employees took the time to complete the survey shows a really positive commitment to safety issues across the company – and this commitment is key to working safely all the time.”

This above industry average response and the high total participation number underscored the validity of the overall survey results.

“The survey results demonstrated that AE Smith has a positive safety culture and we take safety very seriously,” adds Nick.

Favourable responses in six key areas were at the heart of the encouraging survey results and included positive answers to the statements:

  • My safety at work is important to the organisation;
  • I feel safe at work;
  • The person I report to is interested in my safety;
  • The person I report to takes suggestions for improving health and safety seriously;
  • I understand the safety standards expected of me; and
  • I am proud to be working here.

But the intent of any survey is to also highlight areas for improvement, better systems and further training – which were also identified by the survey results.

“Our collective thoughts and attitudes about safety are really positive. However, the survey also showed that we can look to improve some of our policies, systems and education,” comments Nick.

Some areas identified for improvement included how near misses could be avoided again in the future; clearer safety procedures and standards and the effectiveness of AE Smith’s current Safety 1st Task Force as well as the Safety Bucks program in improving safety awareness.

A variety of new training initiatives and systems are now being put in place, spearheaded by Nick Daley. Incident analysis training is about to commence at each branch to review and investigate incidents and near misses, while current safety procedures are being simplified with additional training being undertaken.

“The survey told us the old Safety 1st Task Force wasn’t as effective in communicating as it needs to be. So we’re replacing it with a new Safety Management Team, reviewing who the team representatives should be and charging its members with the important responsibility of “closing the loop” by sharing more feedback to worksites, projects and their branches at our regular meetings,” adds Nick.

The Safety Bucks program will also undergo a review. The first change will see the removal of Lost Time Injuries (LTI) milestone team rewards.

“We discovered that people’s behaviour towards disclosure potentially changes as significant LTI milestones targets drew close. Hardly the behaviour we want to encourage in building a strong safety culture.”

And while surveys, policies, standards and training are helping to strengthen and reinforce a positive safety culture at AE Smith, Nick is also quick to point out that safety is also a personal choice.

“Safety is choice and the choices we make each and every day makes a difference. When it comes safety, set your expectations high because your loved ones have an expectation of you.”