Smart Staff International (SSI) has successfully completed a pilot programme providing suitably qualified personnel to operate as HSE advisors for a large-scale coal facility shutdown in the Bowen Basin.

The roles are targeted specifically to assist contracting company personnel efficiently and effectively meet the site HSE requirements. Shutdowns are traditionally pressure situations where the maximum amount of work is attempted to be undertaken in the minimum amount of time. Often the time required to identify specific site rules and regulations is underestimated and leaves contract personnel with a decision to make; stop the job and investigate the requirement or continue with the job and hope their perceived compliance requirement is correct. Due to the nature of contracting often the perceptions can be skewed as the workers are consistently exposed to different sites and varying HSE requirements.

SSI managing director, Dave Thomson, states: “The requirement for additional HSE personnel to assist during shutdowns has been identified repeatedly. The challenge has been getting the correct mix of competencies identified to achieve the biggest impact from the role.”

Through consultation with key site based personnel, SSI formulated a specialised role designed to mitigate some of the identified risks associated with having new people in a new environment. The scope of work of the role is briefly described as “working with shutdown personnel to ensure conformity to relevant site based and statutory safety legislation through continual assistance, mentoring and education.”

Mr Thomson describes the role as “a unique blend of personal attributes, a solid hands-on maintenance background, a firm understanding of all relevant HSE legislation and most importantly, patience, empathy and temperament, to mentor staff in, what is normally a high-pressure environment.”

SSI identified early on in the pilot programme how important the role of mentoring was. “The advisors need to ensure they actively assist without adversely affecting productivity,” Mr Thomson went on to say. “Observing and learning from our pilot employees experiences has enabled us to develop an accurate behavioural profile for the role, to assist with the programme’s progress and expansion.”

With the success of the pilot, SSI is now looking forward to several large shutdowns scheduled to take place in the same facility in 2011. The client has stated that the roles “certainly added value to the safety aspect of the shutdown, with the additional bonus of having a fresh set of eyes on site to help identify and recommend general safety improvements within the facility.”