Coates Hire takes safety very seriously – it is regarded as a critical part of the day-to-day business operation.
Whether it is addressing workplace regulations, transport operations, the health and wellbeing of employees or issues such as body-stressing injuries, the safety team at Coates Hire has a rigorous, systemised approach that puts a premium on health and safety outcomes.
A case in point is the move to modernise and streamline the Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner and the Australian Government Building and Construction WHS (Work, Health and Safety) Accreditation Scheme, which took effect on 1 January.
These changes are aimed at reducing the workload of applicants while maintaining the same high level of work health and safety. Companies must still meet the scheme’s high safety standards if they want to tender for Australian Government-funded building and construction projects.
Adrian Ditcher, Safety Systems and Reporting Manager at Coates Hire, says mobile plant is subject to strict plant-risk assessment requirements and audits on all equipment and safety operations, including maintenance, service and inspection details. The rules apply to all such plant on Australian Government projects, so companies such as Coates Hire need to be on top of their game when hiring out this equipment.
“We’ve got a very strict and comprehensive program in place to ensure that these requirements are met,” Ditcher says.
He adds that Coates Hire takes this rigorous approach to ensure all of its equipment meets this standard, not just those applicable to Australian Government work standards.
A proven safety management system — whereby ownership of each process is specified and continual improvement in people, processes and performance is delivered — means Coates Hire is ready and able to meet stringent safety standards across all of its operations.
“We constantly monitor what’s happening in the industry in general and we adjust to ensure that our customers are provided with safe gear,” Ditcher says. “And with our own workforce we ensure that our employees and our contractors, when they go onto customers’ sites, are also meeting the required standards.”
Ditcher says health and safety is never an add-on to normal operations at Coates Hire. A motto of Safety First, Zero Harm is part of a pledge to aim for a workplace that is injury, illness and incident free. It is currently the only hire company in Australia with ISO certification across quality, environment and safety.
Coates Hire will focus on four key WHS initiatives this year: safety leadership and cultural change, best practice safety systems, safe and compliant contractors, and employees’ health and wellbeing.
While there is a strong internal commitment to these areas, Ditcher says a commitment to safe and compliant contractors is also a given, especially in the area of transport operators delivering heavy plant equipment to sites.
“Our philosophy is that we treat our contractors as if they are our own employees,” he says. “We certainly don’t look at using them to manage risk but we require them to comply with our systems and processes.”
The introduction of a program of Random Transport Safety Checks has helped Coates Hire to understand who may not be following protocols around disciplines such as loading and unloading trucks.
“We will not hesitate in turning around and identifying these drivers and prohibiting them from working for us again,” Ditcher says.