A consistent approach to safety – one that is understood and owned by all – is important for any workplace, particularly where your people are diverse and geographically dispersed.
No one understands this better than transport company Allied Express.
Given that road freight transport has been identified as a priority industry in The Australian Work Health and Safety Strategy 2012–2022, Allied’s efforts to keep its drivers safe are not only timely, they’re a great example to other businesses in the industry.
Who is Allied Express?
Allied Express is the largest independently owned courier and express freight company in Australia.
They have over 1,000 vehicles across Australia from inner city bicycles to large haulage and around 650 sub-contractor and owner drivers.
Allied’s branch operations span six locations nationally, including Chullora, Tuggerah, Rocklea (Brisbane), Port Melbourne, Regency Park (Adelaide) and Kewdale (Perth).
A new lens on safety
Whilst the safety of their drivers has always been important to Allied, a recent internal and external review of their business identified areas where they could be doing even more to keep their people safe. After all, Allied Express strongly believe their drivers are key to their business success so Allied’s senior management knew they had to invest more in their safety.
Most importantly, Allied realised they could improve their national approach to safety to protect their culturally diverse and geographically dispersed workforce. With this in mind, they adopted a fresh new approach to safety across all their branches, starting with the recruitment of a national work health and safety (WHS) manager.
Acknowledging their culturally diverse workforce, one of the first safety initiatives Allied embarked on was to convert all safety jargon and ‘technical talk’ into plain English to ensure all their people understand how to stay safe in the workplace.
Improving their driver induction was also a key priority for Allied. Induction for drivers now spans a longer time frame nationally and includes a two-day buddy system with an experienced driver, followed by a full day of training focusing on what safety means and looks like to the workforce.
Allied’s National Work Health Safety Manager Brett Rolinski says the induction now has a strong safety focus.
“Before starting all workers are required to show proof that they have the required equipment and understanding of how to use that equipment to do the job effectively and safely,” he explained.
Allied now has a check system in place with fleet management whereby each worker must demonstrate their understanding of policy and procedures by successfully completing required tasks.
“We don’t allow our new drivers to get behind the wheel and start working with us until fleet management is satisfied they can do so safely,” Mr Rolinski added.
Standardisation, consistency and consultation are key
Standardisation, Consistency and Consultation are three important elements in Allied’s new safety approach.
They’ve commenced a national weekly safety ‘dial in’ to ensure all locations are on the same page and all workers have an opportunity to raise safety concerns or ideas they may have to improve safety across all sites. In addition, all employees are required to participate in WHS surveys to help Allied Express benchmark their safety culture and develop further initiatives.
“When it comes to safety, everything is done in consultation with our workers”, explained Mr Rolinski. “Our people play an active role in helping to identify safety hazards and risks, eliminating them where possible and coming up with innovative solutions to make the working environment safer,” he said.
Allied’s safety initiatives are backed up by robust systems and processes that ensure safety risks are tracked and monitored and everyone is accountable for a safer work day.
“All safety documentation is stored centrally using Employers Mutual Limited’s (EML) ‘EMSafe’ system which keeps us on the ball with all our WHS activities,” said Mr Rolinski.
“We’ve also started conducting regular WHS audits via our broker who is an accredited WHS professional,” he added.
Allied is committed to continuously improving its safety program. More recently, they’ve developed and run their very own safety culture survey across the organisation. From this survey they hope to gain valuable insights into the attitudes of their people towards safety and their views on how the organisation and their immediate workgroup operate when it comes to safety in the workplace.
We can expect to see more exciting initiatives like this rolling out over the coming months.
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