Get the Ball Rolling with Safety

October 2020

Greg Wheeler, General Manager from Think Water Canterbury explains their journey to a safer work environment.

When Greg joined the team at Think Water Canterbury as General Manager, owners Andy and Sam knew they needed to do more work on safety and gave Greg the freedom to do this.

“When I first started we had a few documents like toolbox meeting notes. We began with developing more documents and regular safety training to get the ball rolling.” Greg said.

“I had to bring the rest of the team on board with our safety priorities, especially the field team. We emphasised the potential negative financial impact on the business, should there be a major incident” he said.

Greg made it clear to the team, that not only would the business suffer, so too would jobs, and that staff involved in an incident could potentially face significant financial penalties. Let alone the emotional toll this type of incident has on all concerned.

“Recently we invited the field team to nominate two of their peers to get involved on our safety committee, which meets regularly,” said Greg.

The safety committee at Think Water Canterbury considers incidents and specific safety issues and what improvements can be made throughout the business.

“Incidents are usually quite minor, although recently a team member had a bee sting on the job. We were not aware he had an allergy to bees! So this seemingly minor injury ended with four days away from work and some necessary medical care. Fortunately, all is ok now though. As a result of this incident, we spoke to all of our team about any potential allergies and found another health issue with a team member.

“We are currently focusing on getting our Safety Procedures right and want to share this with the group to create a safety database we can all benefit from. We are sorting through our staff to train and sign off their competency using the equipment. Many on the team have the experience, but don’t have this documented.”

“I’d recommend other Members start with the basics such as hand tools and work through the list,” said Greg.

According to Greg, the repetitive stuff causes the most injuries, like not using gloves and eye protection.

The Canterbury team uses both paper and digital safety systems. Simpro is the project software platform they use which also covers pre and post-site audits. Paper forms are used for toolbox meetings.

“It’s no good trying to fill out details after an event – we use pre-starts to pick up issues before they become a problem,” said Greg.

Greg also does weekly random site audits looking for additional hazards and other issues like keeping the work site tidy. As a result, the team is all on board and proactive with safety.