Organisational life has never been more complex and challenging. Ever-increasing expectations on business have brought new pressures and threats – disruption, cost competitiveness, technology, corporate responsibility – which compete for our attention and resources, and community and regulatory expectations for safety have never been greater: anything other than ZERO is often not good enough!

The Brady Report was released by the Queensland Department for Natural Resources and Mines and Energy in December 2019, but most mining companies have yet to understand the impact, opportunities and pitfalls of (let alone deliver on) the report’s recommendations. There is an undeniable risk of reputational impact if the industry is seen to have been tardy in its response to improving the safety of work in the mining sector.

While most of the recommendations are relatively easy to comprehend, e.g. improving worker training and supervision, adopting leading safety performance indicators and assurance of the effectiveness of critical hazard controls, others represent a significant shift from the current management approach. Notably, the Brady report recommends that the mining industry should:

  • recognise that the causes of fatalities are typically a combination of banal, everyday, straightforward factors, and
  • adopt the principles of High Reliability Organisation (HRO) theory.

HRO is considered to be the genesis of the ‘new view’ safety theories, which have been described as evolutions or refinements of the same principles for guiding, enabling and executing work:

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HRO and the other ‘new view’ safety theories present a more holistic and integrated approach to creating the safety of work than the traditional management approaches (e.g. safety management systems, behavioural safety, critical risk management and safety culture).

Whilst one need not have a doctorate in safety science to understand the underlying concepts and complexities, many high-risk and complex major hazard industries (notably aviation and healthcare) have required assistance to interpret and adopt these evidence-based practices in the context of their current circumstances, resources, risk profiles, stakeholder needs and company objectives.

Over recent years, Forge Works has taken the time to understand the vagaries, constraints, complexities and realities of various high-risk and major hazard industries and has helped them plot a course for maturing their management approaches towards the ‘new view’ at the pace that suits their organisation. In doing so, the Forge Works Map™ was created to incorporate past, current and ‘new view’ safety management approaches to provide a comprehensive model of how successful outcomes are created through the capacity to:

  • guide work towards a common purpose
  • enable work to ensure mastery, and
  • execute work through entrusted autonomy.

The Forge Works Map™ describes these three capacities using 15 factors to help companies understand where they are in terms of their approach to managing work (the position) and the opportunities to create or improve the safety of work (the ambition). Notwithstanding that organisations’ approaches to safety management are as different from one another as the people who work within them, Forge Works has come to understand them broadly as Compliant (Systemic Management), Leading (Cultural Management) and Resilient (Integrated Management):

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The model presented by the Forge Works Map™ has been successfully used to enable both large multi-national organisations, as well as smaller companies, recover and refocus their safety efforts:

  • IGO is a diversified mining and exploration company that is currently producing (in addition to other ores) nickel, copper and cobalt from its Nova Operation in Western Australia which employs approximately 700 bold, passionate, fearless and fun people. True to their passion for innovation and their belief in a world where “people power makes amazing things happen”, the IGO Nova mine partnered with Forge Works to understand their capacities for guiding, enabling and executing work to drive successful outcomes for safety, productivity, reliability and quality. The partnership produced a worker-co-designed improvement strategy that recognises current strengths and capitalises on the opportunities to make a step change in their safety performance.
  • Tronox, a vertically-integrated producer of titanium dioxide employing nearly 7,000 people across six continents, adds ‘brilliance’ to the world by mining and processing titanium ore and manufactures titanium dioxide products that are used to add brightness and durability to paints, plastics, paper and other everyday products. As part of it’s uncompromising focus on safety, sustainability, environmental stewardship and governance, Tronox partnered with Forge Works to diagnose their current safety management arrangements at 16 operations across Australia, USA, Brazil, China, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, South Africa, France, Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Forge Works conducted targeted interviews (in English, Portuguese, French and Mandarin, considerate of the different cultures and operating contexts) with people at all levels of the organisation from the Executive team to front-line operators at every site. With a comprehensive and reliable diagnosis of their current safety management approach, Tronox and Forge Works were able to co-design a global improvement strategy to achieve their objective of ‘Inspiring world class safety and sustainability’:

Application of the Forge Works Map has provided fresh direction and possibilities for our globally diverse operations. The focus on business processes has engaged the entire organisation, resulting in a deeper exploration of work and new avenues to achieve and sustain safe outcomes. The result is a strategy that is regionally relevant and impactful to our operations, which will deliver not just safety, but operational excellence and sustainability.

Dylan Audeyev, Vice President – Safety, Health, Environment & Quality, Tronox

If you’d like to explore how the Forge Works Map™ can be harnessed to help you navigate a path towards the principles of HRO and other ‘new view’ approaches for enabling the safety of work, the Forge Works’ blueprint for improving the safety of work should be on your reading list.