Whiteboard meets pushback

Northpower took a two-phase approach to their health and safety programme aimed at improving job planning and encouraging staff to take a harder line with their own safety.

The first initiative - Whiteboard - means that before a job begins, there is an open discussion aimed at identifying hazards and putting in place systems to manage those risks.

The whiteboard remains accessible throughout the job to remind every person of their individual roles and responsibilities - if they are unsure they can refer to the whiteboard which includes a pictorial guide. The whiteboard is also available to all managers, supervisors and independent auditors, so as to provide a transparent guide to the planning of the job.

Northpower says the idea behind Whiteboard is that a crew who is well informed from the outset will have clarity about the task at hand and be able to have confidence that throughout the job their health and safety will be paramount.  It is also vital when you have multiple crews or disciplines onsite.


The second initiative - Pushback - empowers employees to speak up and stop a job if they feel that their health and safety is being compromised. Risks can be reassessed and if the problem can't be fixed in the field, the job will be rescheduled.

Northpower says the two programmes have brought about a distinct change of attitude among its crews. Workers are comfortable speaking up because they know the company is prepared to tolerate shutdown over-runs, cancellations and additional costs if they are necessary to keep staff safe.

Examples include a supervisor calling in management over the conduct of a worker subsequently tested positive for drugs. In another case, a foreman refused to dig a hole because he had not been given plans showing the location of a live 11kV line he knew was in the area. In another, a planned shutdown on a busy highway was postponed after staff arriving at the job felt traffic management measures weren't sufficient to make the job safe.

Northpower says the programmes are creating a new culture whereby staff are more empowered and have a greater awareness.

Pushback has resulted in greater attention to planning and improved preparation of job packs to ensure all essential information is provided. The number of Pushback events has declined as processes have improved and jobs are running more smoothly.

Northpower says Whiteboard and Pushback remain key drivers of the company's safety philosophy and continue to lead to health and safety improvements.

In 2011 the Excellence in Health & Safety category was sponsored is Siemens.