Zulu Engineering Ask “Are You Your Brother’s Keeper”

Every worker on site has a responsibility for safety on the job

Accountability is one of three critical components that empower workers to protect one another from poor decisions that lead to risky actions and ultimately, accidents. The other two components are responsibility and authority. Together, the three components create an essential balance that prevents unsafe acts and promotes a safe work environment.

The balance is achieved when a team has a clear understanding of its responsibilities, has the authority necessary to fulfill those responsibilities and takes accountability for the consequences of their outcomes. What may seem alien to us all is a culture whereby work can be halted if it is thought there may be an unsafe act. It may seem awkward or uncomfortable to point out a hazard or intervene during a work task and ask questions relating to a safety concern even if you do not know the person you are speaking to. No one is safe unless someone takes action to tell them about the hazard. The challenge is that people have never been taught techniques to share safety in such a way so they would feel comfortable. Safety starts with each and every one of us. Don’t walk by.

I first saw this type of safety culture at the now defunct Coryton oil refinery in Essex, UK between 2004 and 2009 and during my time there I (like so many others) was involved in the promotion of ‘Brothers Keeper’ – A site wide safety culture like no other I had seen at that point in time (well not on such a scale anyway).. At first it seemed somewhat awkward however you soon realised that the asset owner and all the contract companies at site had total by-in to the concept and that in no time at all you became part of the culture. Training was paramount as was regular interaction between all companies at site. There were no demarcations in terms of client/contractor or office staff/site workers. Everyone pulled together for the common goal of working in a safe environment. Safety meetings every week with representation from all companies based at site – including the client senior management, a dedicated safety champion from the client assigned to each contract company to promote all things safety…I can honestly say I haven’t seen this level of culture anywhere else or since!

At Zulu, we have rekindled those qualities and are actively adopting the very same ‘total safety’ culture within our business. Our services are carried out in dangerous and hazardous areas. We promote process safety and joint integrity – it is our core business activity and our passion but at heart we are our Brothers keeper. We may well be given the cold shoulder or receive the odd negative comment if we ask others around us “is the job safe?” we take full responsibility for each other and those working around us and we ensure that everyone goes home safely each and every day. …

Are you your Brother’s Keeper?

Credit: Chris Mellows, Zulu Engineering, part of Vanguard VML Group