Going Back 2 Basics with Health and Safety

Richard McIntosh giving a prize to Doug Muir
Our major projects general manager Richard McIntosh giving a prize to Fulton Hogan safety manager Doug Muir for naming our Back 2 Basics health and safety mascot, OSCAR (Our Safety Controls Achieve Results).

In 2020 we initiated the Back 2 Basics programme to help reduce the number of preventable incidents across our construction sites.

Three years on, eight of our construction partners are now rolling out the Back 2 Basics programme as a critical component of their on-site health and safety toolbox process across all our construction sites.

Our major projects engineering manager Craig Matthewson says the Back 2 Basics programme has helped to reduce the number of reported incidents across our construction sites.

He puts this down to the programme's ability to make health and safety everyone's responsibility.

"It was essential for us to create a programme that site managers could roll out at different times or frequencies and be led by our teams on the ground across various shifts.

"For instance, a contractor working on one of our sites for a month would participate in a Back 2 Basics session each week as part of their induction."

Matthewson says the programme's success lies in its ability to break embedded hierarchies that prevent people from speaking up about their experiences and health and safety concerns.

"The Back 2 Basics programme encourages open dialogue, people to share their thoughts and life experiences, give feedback, and learn how to protect themselves and others on site better.

"What's great about the programme is it allows us to introduce health and safety modules that are more applicable to the environment they work in," he says.

Fulton Hogan foreperson Daniel Dennehy states: "What differentiates Back 2 Basics from other programmes is that it's not the same 'spiel' presented week after week.

"What stood out to me about the programme is that it required contractors and project managers working for competing companies to collaborate, share their learnings, and agree on a way forward.

"For many who attended the sessions, it opened their eyes to the hazards, such as blind spots and swing zones on machines. The sessions were highly applicable and practical to each site, so everyone took something away from each Back 2 Basics toolbox session."

Golden pathway exercise
Contractors set up toolbox session at one of Watercare’s construction sites.

Matthewson says fatigue training was rolled out across all sites in November.

"The fatigue training focused on recognising the signs, taking practical steps to reduce fatigue, and sharing experiences or insights on the issue. It really helped to break down barriers even further."

Early in 2023, new resources will be rolled out, including posters in different languages as well as a booklet for new starters describing the various tools and materials used.

"We have done this so that new people entering the workforce can have an easy reference guide as some people are unwilling to ask as they don’t want to look foolish in the eyes of their peers," Matthewson says.

We will give out the Back 2 Basics Health and Safety booklet to all contractors working on each site, and will be seeking feedback to make it as informative as possible.

"As well as an overview of each module's health and safety training, the booklet includes a glossary of common colloquialisms – and their definitions – that people can expect to hear onsite.

"The Back 2 Basics Health and Safety manual will be published in different languages to recognise the diversity of our skilled workforce across all our sites."

Our major projects general manager Richard McIntosh says the Back 2 Basics programme is all about keeping people safe by changing the culture around health and safety.

"We have seen our contractors come together and openly share their processes, learnings and ideas with each other.

"One of the biggest achievements we have made is getting genuine engagement across our site-based teams, who have stepped up to lead the cross-company worker engagement groups and are unlocking some amazing initiatives and ideas."