BHP has made significant changes to the way it engages and manages contractors – who comprise two-thirds of the company’s workforce – as the last seven fatalities across its operations involved contractors or subcontractors.
The new requirements for engaging and managing contractors were rolled out across BHP while assurance programs have been established to monitor and verify the implementation of the requirements, BHP said in its latest sustainability report.
Global contractor safety requirements now form an integral part of its company-wide safety standards, which are based on lessons from previous fatalities at BHP.
The standards guide leaders on how they can effectively help to keep contractors and subcontractors safe while at work, while assurance activities from frontline leaders and internal audit and advisory team audits have also been established to monitor, verify and improve contractor safety.
The next phase of this work is to integrate a number of guiding principles into contractor management within BHP:
The sustainability report noted that BHP’s total recordable injury frequency performance increased to 4.7 per million hours worked during FY2019 (compared to 4.4 in FY2018) and this was due to an increase in injuries across BHP’s Australian and Americas mineral operations.
High potential injuries declined by 7 per cent from FY2018 while its high potential frequency rate declined by 18 per cent.
High potential injury trends remain a primary focus to assess progress against BHP’s most important safety objective, to eliminate fatalities.
During FY2019, the sustainability report also noted that BHP improved its investigation processes, leadership and culture to effectively embed the lessons from safety incidents across the business.
“We prioritise near misses and injuries with fatality potential for in-depth investigation and appoint those with investigation expertise to facilitate and lead these investigations,” the report said.
“Senior leaders are actively involved in leading high potential incident investigations, providing them with an opportunity to learn through practice, which we believe will positively impact their ability to share lessons and influence learning across their existing leadership networks and routines.”
Organisational, cultural and leadership factors are also examined to understand whether they have contributed to an incident.
A repository of investigation findings from across the BHP group are also made available, with investigation findings presented in a standard format that can be filtered and searched.
“In FY2019, we improved the quality of investigations and established a network of investigation facilitators across the group,” the report said.
“We will also investigate positive safety performance and apply those lessons where applicable across the group.”
To strengthen BHP’s safety leadership and culture, the sustainability report noted that the company is also educating its people about chronic unease (being mindful of the possibility of what could go wrong, and creating a culture where it is safe to speak up and report hazards and incidents).
“Hazard identification and reporting continued to be a priority given a healthy reporting culture provides us with the signals to urgently and swiftly respond,” the report said.
“This will be supported by a new incident management system and process that will be implemented in FY2020.”
Safety leadership and culture are also a primary focus for BHP’s global field leadership program, in which leaders from all levels of BHP spend time in the field engaging with employees and contractors about safety.
They are also responsible for verifying fatality risk controls that are behavioural in nature and ensuring that elements of the company’s health, safety and environment management system are working as intended.
Through this engagement the report said BHP is also able to identify positive behaviours, at-risk behaviours and opportunities for system improvements.