Supporting those who get us home safe

Making safety part of the Women in Industry awards is partly the result of the award’s sponsor, gas supplier BOC. Recognising that a culture of safety is of benefit to the industry as a whole, BOC has sponsored the award for the past three years. In addition, BOC has acknowledged the importance of identifying the value of diversity in the workforce, having sponsored the Women in Industry Awards since it began.

The reason for this support starts off close to home. According to Michelle Blume, head of human resources, South Pacific, BOC values a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects the broader community.

“We want a diverse workforce, and if you look at women in particular they are 50 per cent of the community, so you want them to be 50 per cent of the workforce,” said Blume.

This aim reflects the drive of BOC’s workplace to attract and retain female talent in an industry that has traditionally not been front of mind for women, and goes towards its valuing of inclusion.

“We have some great female engineers working for us and also some other amazing women across our business. Inclusion is one of our key values and sponsoring the Women in Industry Awards gets us out as a great place to work for,” said Blume.

With inclusion as a value, safety, however, is fundamental at BOC. “Safety is our number one priority,” said Blume. “It’s really important to us that our people, our customers, and the community, go home safely, so that’s the reason why we chose to sponsor the safety award in particular.”

At its own facilities, BOC implements a culture of safety across the board, much like the one that Kristen Sandford, winner of the 2019 Safety Advocacy Award, implemented at her employer, CSR.

“One of the things that we’ve known at BOC for a while is that safety is about behaviours. We spend a lot of time upskilling people on how to look out for hazards, talk to people when they go on site, and recognise good and poor safety behaviours.”

While BOC has trained and coached all its staff to fulfil these goals, to keep safety front of mind, ongoing coaching and feedback is vital. One of the programs that BOC has implemented is named “fresh eyes”, which Blume explained.

“If you go onto a site, what you do is you walk around the site and you have a look at everything because you ask new questions with fresh eyes. You talk to the people you’re meeting with and ask questions about why things are in certain ways because often what happens when you’re working on an industrial site is you see the obvious but you don’t see what somebody coming in sees, and asking questions will trigger that.”

For Blume, it was fitting that Sandford won this year’s award. Not only for the programs and initiatives that she implemented, but about how she was working to change the culture around safety in her workplace and beyond.

“When I went back through Sandford’s nomination, it was about doing the walk arounds with people and identifying the hazards and very much shifting that behavioural culture, which we think is important,” said Blume.