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Winning the Safety Battle


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Author S Hanrahan and S McLaughlin


A case study is presented that details the safety journey at a North American project involving two major contracts: a 1000 m shaft recovery and rehabilitation, and the development of a drainage gallery in a large open pit operation. In the early stages of the contracts, there were a number of incidents that created tension between the owner and contractor, which resulted in the contractor being placed on a final warning with almost imminent potential termination. As a result of this, it was agreed to initiate a focused safety recovery plan as a ‘last chance’.

Over a period of two years, the engagement and consequent performance of the contractor was turned around, steadily working to set it up for success such that in one of the contract work areas, a record of ‘one year LTI (lost time injury) free’ was achieved. The journey involved the owner and the contractor teams working cohesively to educate all parties in the safety requirements and, most importantly, providing the context and understanding for certain requirements being put in place. Early on in the process, it was recognised that the owner team unknowingly was an impediment in that they did not fully understand the safety requirements and so was not able to lead the way for the contractor effectively. The journey to rectify the situation was supported and followed up by focused engagement with the project team, which generated a progressive improvement in a very challenging environment.

In particular, the contractor turnaround was significant and of enough value for the contractor to ultimately export some of the safety systems from this site to other contract sites. This demonstrated the ultimate benefit of the contractor understanding and buying into a safety culture and system.


Hanrahan, S and McLaughlin, S, 2016. Winning the safety battle, in Proceedings International Mine Management Conference, pp 181-186 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).