A high-risk hazard facility in South Korea sought out Forge Works for strategic support – to increase safety awareness among its workers and the broader company at large.


Building safety awareness at work

20 October, 2019

The opportunity

Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (Asia Pacific) (MIRA) owns and operates a significant number of energy and utility assets throughout Asia.

After a fatality occurred in a high-hazard waste to energy facility in South Korea, management decided they would use this incident as a strategic change opportunity for the company involved and the broader organisation.

The MIRA management team is focussed on improving the safety, operational performance and culture of all its assets. Starting with this facility in South Korea, they engaged Forge Works from Australia to bring new insights and perspectives from outside South Korea and Asia.

The only way to understand the nature of work and safety in large facilities is to talk to workers. Forge Works partnered with a local safety consultancy to assist with data gathering and to communicate deeply with the workforce, from CEO to those on the frontline.

We do this to gather rich and compelling insights into the real-world experiences of workers at all levels so that safety improvement programs address the most important issues facing people exposed to the risks.

Forge Works was engaged to provide a fresh perspective on safety.

The solution

A three-day strategic and operational review of the facility in South Korea helped Forge Works to identify the biggest safety improvement opportunities within the organisation. We engaged with all internal stakeholders as well as contracting companies to understand how they currently viewed safety.

Each group openly shared what they thought were the challenges and opportunities, when it came to the safety of work. This qualitative data was collated and delivered to the facility management team with three key areas highlighted for priority attention.

The review revealed three main issues facing workers and the organisation more broadly: firstly there was a lack of safety hazard awareness capability among frontline workers and contractors.

In addition, the review showed the company needed to improve the ownership and leadership of safety among the management team.

Thirdly, to ensure the sustainability of safety improvements, the company needed to address the lack of effective supporting safety processes in the business.

The outcome

Having identified three priority areas and delivered a detailed actionable plan, Forge Works created an opportunity for the local safety consultancy to continue working with this company, while Forge Works continued to provide strategic support to Macquarie Korea and MIRA.

The review revealed that many workers weren’t aware that they were managing potentially hazardous situations and materials every day, which made it impossible for them to manage the their work safely or even know that they should be best performing their work.

This situation was an example of company norms around work practices that don’t necessarily enable workers to objectively see the work that they’re doing. During the review, Forge Works took on a coaching role and began to ask a range of questions to build awareness throughout the organisation.

Rather than starting with the safety processes, we focused on the work and the people doing the work, asking: How do people do this? Do you think this is safe? Is there a better way we could do this? How do you feel about people performing this task in this way?

By discussing the way that people were performing tasks involving managing chemicals, working at heights and working in confined spaces, the company began to build greater hazard awareness and recognition among employees and management.

Mobilising a company-wide safety review of this South Korean business helped the operating company as well as Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (Asia Pacific) to understand what it means to improve the safety of all its assets.

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