Due to the significant growth APA Group has experienced in recent years – predominantly through acquisitions – the company found that it was burdened with multiple legacy systems across the various states and business units, leading to duplication and an inconsistent approach to the way health, safety and environment (HSE) matters were managed across the organisation.
In September 2011, following eleven months of development, APA launched ‘Safeguard’ – a new, purpose-built national HSE system that provides a framework by which the processes relating to the company’s HSE activities are written, approved, issued, communicated, implemented and controlled.
The new system aims to deliver on APA’s HSE commitments, including providing a zero-harm work environment and a sustainable future. APA aims to achieve this by maintaining a positive culture based on continual improvement, and by ensuring that all business activities are conducted in a manner that protects all of its employees, the environment, and the greater community in which the company operates.
“The system is premised on the belief that effective HSE management is based on a systematic, risk-based and consultative approach that empowers all employees to contribute to HSE excellence, promotes continual improvement, and has appropriate governance structures in place,” says APA General Manager – HSE Deanne Boules.Article continues below…
“Here at APA, we want all employees to go home at the end of the day in the same condition that they came to work in.”
APA has adopted a change-management approach to implement the Safeguard system. Ms Boules says that the new system is a group-level system that defines a broad range of activities, business areas and stakeholder groups, so it was critical to take this approach.
“We engaged a dedicated Change Manager in the months prior to the launch, and a change strategy was developed,” says Ms Boules. “The Change Manager spent a lot of time working with the business units, conducting impact assessment and stakeholder analysis workshops to enable us to have a thorough understanding of the impact or perceived impact the implementation of the system may have on the various business units. Communication was key to the success of this implementation.”
Ms Boules says that Safeguard typically describes requirements in terms of key concepts and fundamental obligations rather than high-detail micro actions.
“For example, our ‘Authority to Work’ system was unable to be implemented across all business units due to the nature of the tasks each individual unit undertakes. Safeguard sets the minimum standard and provides a level of consistency, but still allows business units some flexibility in their approach,” says Ms Boules.
“Through conducting the impact assessments and stakeholder analysis workshops, we recognised that different parts of the business would have different compliance levels to the new system at the initial roll out, and therefore allowed business units some flexibility in the way in which they implemented the new system.”
Implementation workshops were held throughout the country with each of the various business units, providing them with the tools required to implement the system. As part of this launch, APA introduced the tag line of ‘working together for zero harm’.
“As with anything new or different there is always some resistance,” says Ms Boules. “However, by adopting the change-management approach, listening to our stakeholders, and focusing our communications on the ‘what’s in it for me’, we found that we had – and are still receiving – positive feedback.”
System development and implementation of the next layers in the system are currently ongoing, with all elements of the system planned to be fully developed and implemented by 30 June 2013.