BopCons has safety entrenched as its top priority, and has an ongoing approach to safety through the risk reduction program – a joint project between BopCons and SAFCEC to enhance safety on sites. The goal of the program is to improve not only the safety of procedures on sites, but to incorporate safety and risk reduction as a fundamental approach to work. The program is implemented across site processes with improvements tracked, and culminates in a prizegiving for the best performers.

The basis of the risk reduction program is built around a change in behaviour rather than a strict set of rules that demands maximum compliance. The program differs substantially from other initiatives tried in the past, which were largely based on specific outcomes (reducing the number of services damaged on site, for example).

At the start of the risk reduction program, I asked the members of the workforce if anyone believed in an incident-free environment – no one raised their hand. Realistically, neither could I. With the task of changing attitudes ahead of us, we set out on the program which overlapped the December shut down – a blessing in disguise as we usually see a natural increase in incidents after an extended break due to a relaxing of attitudes. This year, thanks to the program, was different.

I believe our biggest successes came from our SMMEs. Although not the overall winners, many achieved the bi-weekly awards for best performing team. It was encouraging to sit in production meetings and hear how time was set aside for improving safety on site as this had seldomly happened before. This time set aside slowly decreased from half a day to just thirty minutes a day — a clear indication that safety had become part of the daily activities and no longer required extra time for implementation.

A personal vote of thanks goes out to the management of Lovedonia Enterprises, an SMME that struggled due to many factors beyond their control. This SMME began with a score of just 69%, but with the intervention of BopCons management along with their own efforts, they finished on a score of 94% – an incredible achievement showing a big improvement in their employee’s individual attitudes towards safety on site.

A big thank you to Kobus and the SAFCEC team for their input and guidance. They have designed a program which is effective at changing the mindsets of participants. It is easier to correct mistakes than attitudes and the results show the effectiveness of the program in doing so. I have personally noticed how safety has become a constant topic when discussing productions and planning. Risk assessments have improved in terms of the quality of risks identified and the attention to detail. Near misses are constantly reported, which gives us an indication that risks are constantly being considered during activities.

Overall, the risk reduction program was an undertaking that showed impressive results that those involved can take with them when moving to other sites. It will remain the duty of senior managers to drive what was learnt every day and continuously make safety a habit rather than an afterthought.

Fabio Bento