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Strong safety culture leads to safety award recognition


Smithbridge Guam was thrilled to be recognised at the Guam Contractor’s Association Awards. Smithbridge took out the Category Winner for Excellence in Project Safety, Speciality Contracting Under $10 Million for the Anderson Airforce Base Tank 3-1 Refurbishment. Smithbridge also won the Category Winner for Project Award for Government/Military Less than $10 million.

It has become a commonly held belief that safety culture underpins safety performance. Companies who have a strong and positive safety culture are likely to also have excellent safety results. Implementation of safety procedures provides a structure and control system for safety behaviours, but what really drives a true commitment to the right behavioural norms is the right organisational attitudes.

In fact, research by the Western Sydney University in 2013 concluded that investing in more protection and engineering a safer work environment does not always produce better safety performance without the improvement of safety culture. Smithbridge Guam is an excellent example of an organisation whose safety culture has driven a remarkable safety performance.
Smithbridge Guam has achieved over 4 million-man hours LTI free – that means they haven’t had an LTI since August 2000. In addition to winning ther Excellence in Project Safety award in 2018, Smithbridge was also the recipient of this award in 2016 for the Cetti Bay Reforestation. Guam Contractors Association Excellence in Construction Awards celebrates and rewards quality craftsmanship in the Guam construction industry and has a dedicated award for excellence in safety.

Simon Ridley, Mechanical Construction Manager at Smithbridge Guam, believes the team’s safety culture was key to their excellent safety performance on the Tank 3-1 Refurbishment Project and throughout the rest of the business. The awarded project scope included fabrication and installation of a new set of aluminium stairs and handrail for a jet fuel tank on the Andersen Air Force Base.
“We promote an environment where open and honest dialogue between co-workers is encouraged,” Simon said. “When planning the daily activities, particularly for the high-risk demolition phase where the corroded stairs and handrails were unstable and unknown, we held at minimum daily planning sessions with the team, ensuring they all understood the steps required to safely dismantle and remove the structure.”

Despite working to an aggressive schedule, an unrelenting focus on safety over schedule enabled the team to complete the project on time with zero incidents. The team introduced a modularised system of demolition designed to remove large sections safely and productively, addressing key project risks of working at heights, confined space, and complex crane lifts.
Smithbridge Guam adopted the DuPont Safety Training Observation Program (STOP) in 2003. When an individual sees another undertaking a task in an unsafe manner, the STOP card allows a positive discussion to take place without concern about disciplinary action. Every employee receives training to become skilled in recognising and eliminating unsafe acts and conditions which are the major cause of most injuries.

This is strongly supported by the Smithbridge Guam leadership team who invest time in the field interacting with the work crews through safety observations using the STOP cards.
This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue of Lifting Matters 

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