Zero Harm – How Teams Choose Safe Work as Way of Life

The case for safe, sustainable and productive work is self-evident. Experts from organizations such as Dupont[1] recognize that the journey to zero harm for safe work, quality output and waste elimination is a necessary transformation from:

  • Reactive workplaces where full compliance delivers operations mediocrity, to
  • Interdependent workplaces where individual/ team choice delivers operations excellence.

The following anecdote demonstrates how teams can be set up to make the choice for safe work.

The Client

A medium sized, opencast/strip coal mining operation located in eastern Australia.


  • The outcome of a workshop safety audit was significantly less than satisfactory, multiple potential hazards were identified and workplace behaviors questioned.
  • What was required was an immediate supervisors action plan to address the potential for improvement. The time to develop and implement the plan was less than 12 months.

Key Methodology

The supervisors recognized that a workforce choice for change was the required ‘end’ and the ‘means’ included the involvement of all employees in developing improvement ideas and monitoring safety and housekeeping systems and measurement.


The supervisors plan included

  • A re-induction of everyone in their work teams, on a one-to-one basis, placing emphasis on safety systems and the establishment of a new foundation for their trust relationship.
  • A reduction from the multiplicity of policies, procedures and protocols to a handful of ‘Must Know Protocols’ re-written to concise ‘one pagers’, printed and laminated. The five-point safety protocol was retained as a ‘Must Know’
  • Workforce training and coaching in the ‘Must Know Protocols’, including safety data entry, incident and accident investigation, hazard identification and observations, and processing of associated paper work, was provided formally in classroom and informally on the job.
  • Start-of-shift communication processes were reviewed and upgraded. Frequent but brief during-shift and end-of-shift supervisor and employee discussions became the norm.
  • Any workforce identified problems, opportunities for improvement concerning the safety and housekeeping system, potential shortcuts or “why” questions were made point of focus.
  • Workforce improvement teams were enrolled in the write-up of new work procedures, cost-benefit analysis, justifications for system changes, new measures, the promotion of employee ideas to senior management and requests for capital / appropriate resourcing e.g. for white boards and markers in meeting rooms, materials to build shadow boards, supply of paint, signage, extra lighting or arrangements for the next shift to come in early.


The next audit revealed:

  • A workshop with many changes, including shadow boards with spaces for tools yet to be acquired; retractable reels for grease and water hosing; anything that previously required a ladder for access (e.g. lighting) now able to be lowered to floor level for maintenance; designated equipment storage areas located throughout the workshop and easily located and delineated with two-meter-high metal posts; floor level equipment stands set up to facilitate cleaning; the workshop floor painted and walkways clearly marked – everything with a place and everything in its place.
  • The shop floor spotless; over 12 months of zero injuries, zero accidents, but a significant increase in incident reporting, safety actions, safe work suggestions etc.
  • No task undertaken without the completion of a written risk assessment, all work conducted in the context of a safety plan, all safety observations and audits conducted by the workforce, and positive confrontation with respect to any deviation from a safety or housekeeping standard the accepted norm.
  • The cost of the improvements – not much more than the input of effort, energy, initiative and a little respect? Productivity increased by 30% but in addition the volume of work previously allocated to contractors reduced by half.
  • Choice for safe, quality and the elimination of waste is now way of life.

[1]‐and‐services/consulting‐services‐process‐technologies/brands/sustainable‐solutions/sub‐brands/operational‐risk‐management/uses‐andapplications/bradley‐curve.html. Accessed 18th June 2017

Learning – How to Fast Track Adult Know-how Transfer

  • If you could rapidly transfer your know-how and achieve > 75% comprehension at first pass from your adult learners, would you?
  • If the know-how transfer method required all learning experiences to be enjoyable, memorable, interactive and fun, would you the embrace the method?
  • If the learning approach was founded on peer to peer know-how transfer, a mix of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic techniques, assessment and measurement, would you standardize that approach?

Perhaps the following case study will appeal?

The Client

A prospective underground mine in Western Canada


  • A pilot study to incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI) and workforce of the future requirements into Operations design possibilities/ feasibilities, appeared to have lost momentum.
  • Other opportunities to re-define, clarify and detail additional pilot study work had been created but not actioned.
  • The acknowledged key requirements for a refreshed initiative were:
  1. Key teams and players working together for information sharing and plan definition
  2. A rapid knowledge transfer and uptake of innovative design ideas 
  3. A prioritised action list for sign off commitment from the managerial leadership team

Key Methodology

The system of Theatre for Industry (TFI) and Just-in-Time Doing and Discovery technique (JITDD).


  • Gaps in the client level of knowledge required three months of research and content development delivered into a bespoke, Theatre for Industry, intensive 2-day learning programme.
  • The programme was an outcome of full consultant/ client collaboration.
  • Rapid know-how transfer and high levels of content retention were achieved with the technique of doing and discovery as opposed to the traditional lecture/ tell process.
  • The entire programme was delivered by upskilled client resources with MDC facilitation support.
  • In-built features of each learning session were assessment, measurement and actions evaluated and plotted into a matrix for analysis.
  • The consultant report to address required new standards, recommendations, benchmarking opportunities and the pathways to the next levels of innovation.


  • A know-how transfer of the TFI system and JITLDD technique to internal resources.
  • The creation of opportunity to cascade the learning program to whole of organization.
  • The set-up of a smaller lead groups to accelerate the learning process.
  • Close out of the current ‘Definition/ Pilot’ phase.
  • All current and new learnings analysed and incorporated into future programmes. More than 20 High Priority actions were redefined into a Top 5 Priority list.
  • The consultant report and recommendations adopted.

The Size of the Prize

For organisations ready to develop a more Interactive model of trust relationships and problem-solving, the prize is real and definitely worth winning!

 Ask yourself

  • If you could help your workers increase their output by between 15-100%, at no additional cost, would you take the necessary steps to improve relationships and increase task-readiness?
  • If, through better planning and scheduling systems, your workers could handle more work orders and 80% of all difficult and unusual production and service tasks as though they were routine, would you embrace the changes?
  • If, through rapid know-how transfer learning processes, your workers could increase their knowledge, competencies, problem solving capability, creativity, cognitive and social maturity, would you apply/ implement these programs?
  • If you knew these improvements would result in increased revenues and productivity, would you be committed?

and finally,

  • Do you consider it important that your people build security and enjoyment while performing their work at full capability? 

If you answer yes to these questions, you’re ready to go Interactive.

Our work on developing Interactive workplaces is specifically designed for managers who, in search of competitive advantage, take on the challenge of nurturing involvement in the business behaviour by empowering their direct supervisors and work teams

Such managers / leaders build and maintain relationships of trust with their workers, provide them with satisfying work, encourage their involvement and enrolment and develop this to create workplaces that meet the standard of Interactive.

The prize for this effort can be substantial and can be achieved in a relatively short timeframe.