Third time Accredited companies say Scheme has raised safety standards
The Australian Government Building and Construction OHS Accreditation Scheme (the Scheme) has reached another milestone as a number of companies achieve accreditation for the third time. This milestone prompted the OFSC to speak with WHS contacts from a number of the third time accredited companies about their experience with the Scheme. Patrick Pearl from BMD Constructions Pty Ltd, Chris Sabatini form Doric Contractors Pty Ltd, and Gary Burroughs from Hansen Yuncken Pty Ltd reflected on the key benefits of accreditation and the impact the Scheme has had on the safety culture of the building and construction industry.
For each company the obvious benefit of accreditation has been the ability to tender for Government funded work, however in the opinion of Sabatini, Burroughs and Pearl a greater benefit for their companies has been a raised safety standard. As Patrick Pearl from BMD Constructions stated “the most important benefit has been the increased level of due diligence by all levels of staff in maintaining and improving the safety and risk management processes throughout the organisation. The scrutiny required for compliance has clearly improved the level of incident reporting and the analysis of trends to eliminate any potential risk.” Gary Burroughs of Hansen Yuncken suggests that much of this improvement in his company has come from audits by Federal Safety Officers, “these audits have tested our systems and we have used these as a learning experience to improve.”
The Scheme has not only provided benefit to individual companies, it has arguably led to changes in the safety culture of the building and construction industry (BCI) as a whole. Though only head contractors on Scheme projects require accreditation under the Scheme, the third time accredited companies have found that the Scheme’s high WHS standards have trickled down through the industry via subcontractors and head contractors that also work on non-Scheme projects. While acknowledging that it is difficult to speculate on the impact of the Scheme across the BCI as a whole, Chris Sabatini from Doric Contractors noted that within Doric accreditation has “fostered a positive influence of safety recognition and improvements and I imagine this feeling is mirrored across the industry.”
So what advice would these veteran companies give to new companies seeking accreditation or companies embarking on reaccreditation?
The key message is to be prepared. This includes brainstorming with fellow employees and subcontractors about your company’s WHS systems and ensuring all levels of management are made aware of the requirements to maintain accreditation. It is also important to make sure that the processes and procedures in place to meet Scheme audit criteria suit your organisation, including flexible processes for dealing with various subcontractors. Gary Burroughs advises that this is made easier by aiming to fully understand the Scheme criteria and the objectives behind them.
The third time accredited companies also stressed that accreditation should not be entered into lightly. According to Patrick Pearl of BMD Constructions, “seeking accreditation for accreditation’s sake will not be good enough, the scheme criteria raises the level of safety due diligence required to ensure that workers have a safe environment and that identified risks are addressed. This process should not be seen as just another certificate but rather an opportunity for an independent review to monitor and guide organisations to provide a safe environment.”
The FSC congratulates those companies that have achieved their third accreditation, and looks forward to continuing to work with these companies to improve the safety culture of the industry.