A Case Study from the Construction Industry

Construction work is dangerous and leads to fatalities every year.  There are many other high risk industries that rely on physical labour where there is a need to focus on reducing workplace injuries and fatalities.  Often levels of literacy amongst this workplace are higher than average.  Yet the use of written documents to convey safety critical remains common, albeit incorporating photos.

David Broadhurst, the co-founder of Codesafe, is a construction industry veteran.  He opens Ep 49 with a story from nine years ago about an incident where someone on site where he was supervisor was almost killed.  He began searching for a better way to ensure that workers in high risk sectors actually understood safety critical information and worked safely.  He created the Codesafe methodology which has captured the attention of safety bodies in Australia and been the subject of research by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) to understand what makes the approach effective.

Rae Grech is a health and safety manager who has a training background.  In 2013 Rae engaged David’s team to create video materials for high risk processes in ceiling insulation.  Their work together resulted in significant systemic improvements in safety at the organisation.  While easy to access content is part of the reason for this, the real driver is a participatory approach that engaged workers and unlocked their tacit knowledge.

Episode Highlights

– The near-miss that ignited David’s mission to find better approaches to safety training and comunication in the construction industry

– Rae’s work at a ceiling insulation company that led her to David’s visual approach

– The three step Codesafe methodology

– Research into the methodology and why it works by Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)

– How looking through a camera at a work process helps you to see it differently

– How Rae redesigned ceiling access with worker participation after seeing it through a camera lens

– The power of valuing and respecting the people doing the work – and tapping into their tacit knowledge by creating psychological safety to discuss actual work practice and engaging them in process redesign

– How people can access videos and other safety resources online at point of need

– The safety KPI improvements that Rae saw as a result of adopting this approach, and the longer-term shift in health and safety engagement in her organisation

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