29 October 2021

The art of continuous improvement – Be safe

By Scott Puddy, Head of Safety

As October’s National Safe Work Month has come to an end, it’s an opportunity to reflect on this year’s theme and think about its relevance to us a business, and as individuals.

Read my last blog which focusses on encouraging effective safety performance and the art of working safe.

To ”Be Safe” at work relates to the ongoing process of managing and monitoring WHS risks through the lifecycle of a business. Safety can’t just be a set and forget system, it takes focus and a committed culture of continuous improvement.

Incessant attention to enhancing safety is the lifeblood of effective WHS management. Ensuring our organisation regularly checks the pulse on safety control mechanisms and improves them following all incidents, near misses and hazards is the most critical element in our safety profile. It ensures our teams, contractors, customers and other visitors are always as safe as possible when attending any of our work environments.

Our commitment to industry best practice around safety management is just the beginning. Our obsession with safety metrics and leveraging the data to create a continuous improvement methodology was a key element in the robust audit process that preceded our achievement of ISO45001 certification during 2021. You can’t improve what you can’t measure so we capture data wherever possible to ensure we learn and progress our approach whenever we identify an opportunity for safety enhancement.

As we scale our business and build more and larger data centres to meet the exploding infrastructure needs of customers, so too does the number of people we engage on site balloon. Therefore, we place a huge focus on learning from incidents and near misses in our current facilities, to prevent them from reoccurring.

All the WHS knowledge we acquire along the way then contributes to additional safeguards being applied to future data centre designs and processes. At scale, they have a compounding effect on the overall safety profile of the business, its capital works projects and facility operations.

Below are some of the ways we apply continual improvement methodologies across NEXTDC.

Physical safety:

  • Learnings from hazards, incidents and near misses are shared across the organisation by the WHS team on company all-hands calls each fortnight.
  • Safety risks and associated controls are tracked on a local and national level through Risk Registers, which are reviewed quarterly for ongoing control.
  • Monthly WHS Committee meetings are held where risks, hazards and incidents are discussed; and innovative ideas are presented. Each site is represented by an individual Health and Safety Representative.
  • Two-way safety sharing’s conducted with national suppliers and contractors on a quarterly basis. Learnings are collated and distributed among all participants for industry-wide learning.
  • Monthly WHS performance meetings with Principal Contractors working on capital works projects across the country. Where appropriate, incident learnings are shared with disparate contractors and suppliers to prevent recurrence.
  • A holistic approach to creating safe spaces at work for everybody is not just about physical risks. We understand and respect that continuous improvement is a company-wide responsibility that requires equal emphasis to continual improvement on identified psychological risks in all workplaces including work-from-home environments. Our goal is to provide the most comforting, supportive, collaborative, engaging and innovative work environment we can something that also requires regular review and improvement.

Psychological safety:

  • Living the NEXTDC values in all we do. Having direct conversations when we need to, but agreeing as an organisation to ‘disagree, and then commit’ once a decision has been made.
  • Empowering and supporting multiple viewpoints, not only within our organisation through initiatives like the 40:40 Vision for gender balance, but within the IT industry through our support of events like the Women in IT forum.
  • Engaging industry leading specialists in office design for our office and facilities work stations and workplaces to provide an environment conducive to innovation and relaxation.
  • Availability of 24/7/365 EAP free counselling service to all employees and their immediate families.
  • Supporting the training of 18 Mental Health First Aiders during 2021 (one for every NEXTDC location).
  • Regular sharing of health and wellbeing initiatives such as:
  • Nutrition week,
  • Healthy sleep awareness,
  • Mindfulness in May program,
  • Engaging external speakers from organisations like Beyondblue to present to the all-company group on lived mental health experiences.

The above actions are all a part of NEXTDC’s unrelenting determination to include a keen focus on the Health, Safety and overall wellbeing of our staff throughout the year.

Read more here about NEXTDC’s commitment to safety.