Making health and safety personal

The metrics are stark. In the past year, lost time injuries at Tenix have fallen 45 per cent, while there has been a 75 per cent improvement in the New Zealand and Pacific division. This notable improvement in health and safety performance has been achieved since the Zero Harm initiative was implemented, with alliance partner Powerco, two years ago.  Accident rates have fallen, more near miss incidents are being reported and staff are involved in improvement initiatives and are increasingly more aware of the importance of a good health and safety culture.

These results have been delivered in an industry where potential hazards can be extreme, including high- and low-voltage electricity supply, all manner of weather conditions and variable day/night working hours. Extreme weather conditions in the past year, including a once-in-70-years storm, have created special challenges and make the results achieved particularly impressive.

Tenix is a leading delivery partner to owners of gas, electricity, water, wastewater, heavy industrial and mining assets across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. They provide power transmission and distribution asset services to the New Zealand energy industry.  Since July 2011, the networks business has completed one million man-hours injury free.

The Zero Harm initiative ensures a company-wide focus on health and safety through five guiding principles: accountability for safety, engagement and empowerment to work safely, having the right resources, tools and support to work safely, identification and control of all hazards and risks, and always learning and improving.

Where incidents do occur, a TAPROOT investigation methodology is used to determine the root cause and frontline managers share safety learnings at fortnightly online meetings. But to avoid incidents, two particular instruments were introduced.


Dashboard is a reporting scheme which tracks leading and lagging indicators across the business against 37 metrics allowing for early and proactive intervention. These metrics are shared with the business in a transparent manner allowing the teams to participate in issue management.

Employee sounding boards allow frontline workers to highlight concerns and make suggestions which are then taken back to managers for inclusive problem solving. Much of Zero Harm's success is due to the feedback coming through the sounding boards.

When the fit of safety harnesses was identified as an issue in near-miss reporting, sounding board members worked with the manufacturers to redevelop the equipment, resulting in an improved version of the harness now being trialled in the field.

Driving related incidents were also raised in sounding boards and safety workshops, prompting investment in a ‘Safely Home' campaign, including new vehicle signage and posters at major work sites.

The issue of worker safety in remote locations was also raised by the sounding boards, and resulted in two initiatives, one of which also improved crew allocation.

Vehicles are now fitted with GPS, enabling Tenix and Powerco to track and despatch crews more effectively. To supplement this system, and the company's radio network, Tenix is also now deploying emergency location and activation devices to lone workers and remote depots.

The emergency services Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) kick into action when an emergency beacon is activated and they will initiate a rescue - usually by helicopter.

The Excellence in Health & Safety Award category is sponsored by Siemens.