Whilst Australian companies have made good progress in elevating safety and its importance to delivering operational and commercial success, there is more that needs to be done as the gig economy continues to grow.
In 2019 alone, there have been 138 work-related fatal injuries, only marginally under the total of 144 for 2018. Of these, 8 relate directly to the mining sector, well under the number of fatal injuries in other sectors such as transport, warehousing and agriculture. However, any fatality is one too many, so what can be done?
In the resources sector, the gig economy has long been an established part of the employment mix as companies regularly seek workers for short term contracts for shutdowns and turnarounds. Contract workers are a necessity due to the nature of the work and their use of them provides economic benefits to the organisations that employ them. This model however is ripe for an update and real benefits, such as improved safety standards for the individuals delivering the work, could be achieved through the adoption of collaborative work practices and strategies.
Taking a step outside of immediate in-house best practice, safety practices will become increasingly reliant upon the adoption of collaborative strategies – not just between competing companies but with a much broader ecosystem such as government bodies, universities, registered training organisations and non competitive industries.
So what is a collaborative strategy?
The key tenets when it comes to safety in the energy and resources sector include:
Industry collaboration to agreed baseline expectations regarding training and competence will standardise requirements to drive industry alignment. This then translates into freeing up valuable internal resources to focus on core activities such as competency development, proactive risk management, workforce culture and behaviors that will make a material impact and save lives.
- In Australia, Safer Together has kicked this off by creating the Industry Standard Induction (ISI) for all new starters in the industry. Ably supported by Woodside Energy, INPEX, Monadelphous, Santos, Clough and others, this is a positive step for our industry.
- In the UK, the Connected Competence programme, which draws upon the likes of Wood, Worley, Aker Solutions, Petrofac, Stork and Bilfinger Salamis provides another example of an initiative to drive competency assurance across the supply chain.
2. Creating common tools that leverage shared data to reduce administrative burdens such as data duplication (and data errors!) as well as manual, time-intensive processes. This can enable teams to focus on high-value workforce engagement and the delivery of meaningful safety improvement programs.
3. Adoption of a ‘bottom up” approach to health and safety. Even those best-laid plans and programmes will have limited impact if workers are not empowered at an individual level to self-manage their training and competency development, taking ownership of behaviour and safety awareness in the field. Technology is the medium to drive worker empowerment and employers can assist through the adoption of platforms that give workers this level of control. For some companies, this can be a scary proposition but providing tools that give workers ownership of their credentials reinforces an organisations desire to cover all the bases when it comes to improving safety standards.
The Gig Economy Opportunity
The Australian energy and resources sector has a real opportunity to pave the way forward in safety leadership and in the setting of the benchmark globally. Here at MyPass® Global we believe that embracing technology and the shared gig economy is a vital step to achieve this. It requires a change in mindset, and yes, there is always a need to compete, but safety and the protection of lives is a shared responsibility.