Zero Harm

Our approach

At Downer, Zero Harm means working in an environment that supports the health and safety of our people, allows us to deliver our business activities in an environmentally sustainable manner, and advances the communities in which we operate.

Our Zero Harm culture is built on leading and inspiring, managing risk, rethinking processes, applying lessons learnt, and adopting and adapting practices that aim to achieve zero work-related injuries and minimise environmental harm.

Zero Harm is embedded in our culture and is fundamental to our future success. Our business is founded on our deeply held value of Zero Harm. Achieving Zero Harm requires strong leadership and relentless commitment from everyone at Downer.

Our approach to Zero Harm enables us to work safely and responsibly in industry sectors that may be inherently hazardous. We firmly believe that our work can be conducted with zero harm to our people, the environment and the communities within which we operate.

We conduct our business in a way that is sustainable, taking into account a range of factors, including climate-related risks and opportunities. Developing and delivering environmentally sustainable solutions for our customers is a priority. While focusing our attention on managing our risks associated with environmental management and climate change, we also take advantage of the commercial opportunities this presents for our business.

Our commitment to Zero Harm is visible across our business. It is expressed through the behaviours of our leaders and workers and in our Zero Harm performance.

Downer is proud of the strong and resilient Zero Harm culture we have established. We continue to focus on maturing this culture to prepare for the workplace of the future.

Our senior executives and managers actively empower our people to maintain safe, responsible and sustainable working environments and to perform work without harm to ourselves, the environment, or others.

We achieve our Zero Harm culture and strong performance through:

  • Visible, caring, informed, involved, evidence-based management
  • Active engagement and involvement with our workforce, with supervisors leading Zero Harm on site
  • Identifying opportunities for improvement and empowering our businesses to implement initiatives that improve the safety of our workforce
  • Encouraging our employees to expand commitment to safety outside of the workplace – we encourage our people to share experiences of working safely at home, or in the community
  • Consolidating, enhancing and focusing work practices around critical risk controls
  • Continuing to improve and simplify our management systems to increase our efficiency and allow our businesses to focus on the safety needs of the business
  • Fighting complacency and fostering ‘chronic unease’.
  • Setting clear leadership Zero Harm expectations and accountabilities, developing and involving our people, acting with integrity, and ensuring a ‘just’ culture for errors and non-compliance
  • Information, instruction, training, mentoring, coaching and supervision for competency
  • Culturally embedded risk management and planning, with consideration of Zero Harm in design, manufacturing, importing, supply, installation and construction
  • Widespread knowledge of our critical risks – those that have the potential to cause the most harm, and identifying, supporting, improving and monitoring the controls that manage that risk
  • High level of reporting and benchmarking, with a focus on lead indicators and communication about lessons learnt
  • Auditing implementation and effectiveness

Risk management

We have improved our management systems to ensure critical controls are well defined, effective and in place. This has enabled us to enhance the management of risks that carry the potential to cause serious harm.

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Downer is continuing to improve upon our Zero Harm performance with a focus on critical risk management. We have maintained our focus on understanding and managing risks that have the potential to cause serious harm to our people.

There have been substantial reductions in the occurrence across all top 10 categories of High Potential Incidents over the past three years, ranging from nine to 100 per cent change in occurrence. In addition, two categories of High Potential Incidents no longer appear amongst the top 10. This reduction demonstrates that the Critical Risk Programs implemented have resulted in a reduction in risk across the business. Even with these positive results incidents have continued to occur, which demonstrates that our focus must remain on these critical risk activities and the relevant programs aimed to address them.

Initiatives are underway which aim to address the top critical risk activities across the Group, which are:

  • Working with mobile plant or equipment
  • Vehicles and driving
  • Working at height
  • Working with electricity
  • Working with stored hazardous energy
  • Falling or dropped objects
  • Working in a confined space
  • Working in vicinity of existing services
  • Working with cranes and lifting equipment
  • Working with hazardous substances.

Responsibilities and accountability for Zero Harm are clearly defined through our governance framework and Zero Harm management systems.

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The Board oversees the Company’s Zero Harm performance via the Board Zero Harm Committee. The Board Zero Harm Committee oversees the development and implementation of strategies, systems and policies to ensure compliance with our legal and regulatory obligations and other commitments. The effectiveness of these systems is monitored through extensive internal and third-party audit programs, with oversight by both the Board Zero Harm and Board Audit and Risk Committees.

Our Executive Team has overall accountability for our Zero Harm performance. It is incumbent on the Executive Team to ensure that robust systems, procedures, processes, and practices are in place to enable our people to deliver on our commitments. The Executive Committee has adopted a Zero Harm Management System Framework which sets the minimum standard for Zero Harm across all divisions. Downer uses a company-wide Risk Management Framework and divisional integrated management systems to identify and manage Zero Harm risks.

Our divisional and operational managers are accountable and responsible for implementing these and for driving continuous performance improvement. Each division is required to have an operational Zero Harm Management System that meets Downer’s Zero Harm Management Framework. All Downer divisions’ Zero Harm management systems are audited by both internal and external independent third parties. All of Downer’s divisional systems have been certified (as a minimum) to the following standards: AS/NZS 4801 or OHSAS 18001 (for occupational health and safety management systems), and ISO 14001 environmental management systems.

Our people have a responsibility to follow, and be involved in developing, agreed work practices, complying with our Cardinal Rules and, when required, to stop, challenge and report work practices that are unsafe or environmentally irresponsible.

The method for measuring our performance is clearly set out in our governance framework and we offer short-term remuneration incentives for senior managers in relation to our performance against Zero Harm targets.

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The Short-Term Incentive remuneration plan for senior managers includes 30 per cent allocated for performance against Zero Harm (safety and environment) related key performance indicators, with a balance of leading and lagging indicators, including:

  1. Safety performance – fatal incidents, LTIFR and TRIFR
  2. Environment performance – Level 5 and 6 Incidents, GHG emissions reductions
  3. Leadership – ensuring a focus on meaningful conversations between senior managers and the frontline employees on critical risk, control verification and cross-divisional information sharing
  4. Critical Risk Management Program evolution identifying opportunities to harmonise the way we manage those critical risks that are shared across our service capabilities.

Further details of these Short-Term Incentives can be found in the 2018 Annual Report.

Engaging with our people

We engage with our workers, share information and provide Zero Harm awareness opportunities to our people through the following pathways:

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  • ‘Pre-start’, ‘toolbox’ and Health and Safety Committee meetings
  • ‘Safety moments’ at the beginning of meetings
  • Site visits, observations and active engagement by senior management
  • The publication of Enviro News, an internal newsletter highlighting our environmental solutions, performance and commendable achievements
  • Group-wide topical promotions including activities aligned with Earth Hour, National Recycling Week and World Environment Day
  • Working with employees to implement popular ideas via Downer’s Innovation Hub including the winning entry from our National Recycling Week Innovation Challenge – hard-hat recycling, which is being rolled out across various sites
  • Zero Harm noticeboards
  • Our intranet
  • Competitions.

These processes are in addition to our more formal consultation processes, such as health and safety committees, engagement with health and safety representatives, one-on-one meetings and performance processes.

Recognition and awards

Downer's commitment to sustainability, innovation and relationships is recognised by external organisations. Awards achieved this year include:

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  • VEC won the Civil Contractors Federation Earth Award for the successful replacement of the St Paul's River Bridge near Launceston Tasmania. The Earth Awards celebrate excellence in infrastructure project construction and environmental management. VEC received the Earth Award for projects in the $5 million -$10 million category, and was a finalist in three other award categories.
  • Downer was awarded the first Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia's (ISCA) ‘As Built Infrastructure Sustainability (IS)’ rating to be awarded to a renewable infrastructure project for work on the Ararat Wind Farm. This is Australia's only comprehensive scheme for evaluating the sustainability of design, construction and operation of infrastructure projects. This award recognises the long-term environmental and social benefits the wind farm brings to Victoria.
  • Downer's work with Transport for NSW on the Transport Access Program has been recognised by the awarding of a Precincts and Infrastructure (P&I) Safety Award. It recognises the visible leadership and genuine commitment to the safety and welfare of workers on the project.
  • Downer Blasting Services has been awarded the Economx Time Saving Initiative Award for its innovative Speedloader, which has reduced the blasting cycle by one hour, increasing productivity by 23 per cent and reducing fleet wear and tear.