Driving a culture of safety in the workplace

Safely managing the operation of hazardous facilities requires a strong commitment to put our people, our customers, and our community first. It is this attitude that has led to our operations from Birkenhead and Port Lincoln, to Mackay and Devonport achieving some incredible safety milestones – with these terminals having no recordable injury or loss of containment incidents over the space of the last five through to 25 years.

Mackay terminal

Viva Energy Operational Safety Milestones

Operational Site Safety Milestone
Port Lincoln Terminal 25 years
Devonport Terminal 9 years
Mackay Terminal 8 years
Birkenhead Terminal 6 years

Never compromising on safety

To understand what it takes to achieve such a remarkable result, we spoke to our Operations Manager in South Australia and Tasmania, Darren Barlow. “We have developed a culture within our business that’s about caring for our people and this means we work together as a team and look out for each other by ensuring safety is at the heart of all our actions.”  

Having the right people and procedures in place is a critical part of this success. “We have a long standing team at Birkenhead who are highly experienced with our procedures. If we know that someone is unfamiliar with our site, we provide training and oversee the work to ensure it is being carried out safely. As an example, when a new ship arrives into port at one of our Terminals, we ensure the ship crew understand the local discharge process and requirements before the ship starts unloading.”

Maintaining this high standard also requires every person to hold themselves accountable. “Our people know that safety must and does come first. We’re all working to deliver the same outcome which makes for a stronger and more aligned team.”

“We have each other’s back, whether they are one of our own or a contractor working on site.”

“Being a small team means we have good line of sight over the job from start to finish. While this involves less touchpoints, it does come with greater responsibilities.” When it comes to safety the seemingly toughest decisions are the easiest ones to make. Every person is empowered to stop any task they deem to be unsafe.

“This has sometimes meant having to turn away customers from entering our site if they have failed to meet our standards, even if it is at 2am. We conduct regular inspections of our customers’ vehicles and there have been times when our operator has detected defects with the truck that they’ve been uncomfortable with. However, it’s reassuring to know that when we’ve made the decision to turn a customer away, the team have always been supported by the business. This makes it easier for us to meet the company’s expectations of having the ‘courage to intervene and the character to accept’.”

Learning through shared experiences

We believe that every incident is preventable and we work in close cooperation with our site contractors to ensure they meet our safety requirements. This includes sharing knowledge between us and the contractor.

“While we have a preference for using local contractors who understand the requirements of our industry, one of the things we are always mindful of is ensuring the contractors we use have the required knowledge and expertise for the job and on safety standards. We never assume that they will behave in a certain way. Generally contractors have seen most situations through their varied experience and are willing to share this information when provided with an opportunity. Our team have also brought with them a wide range of experiences from other industries which broadens their awareness and assists with identifying contractor shortcuts. We also learn from other incidents through safety shares.”

Our standard of housekeeping at our terminals also sets the expectation for visiting contractors and emphasises the level of professionalism that is required. Contractors are made to feel comfortable on site to put them in the right mindset without diminishing what our expectations are. “For larger projects, this could involve getting the contractor on site prior to the job and undertaking a pre-mobilisation walk-through to gain alignment on safety methods and controls and the equipment being used for the task.”

A rigorous safety regime

We are always striving for continuous improvement to ensure that complacency doesn’t impact the way we conduct ourselves. This includes having the proper systems, processes, and training in place.

Another important aspect is the maintenance of our operations to safe guard against any incidents. Each of our operational facilities has a planned maintenance program that is specific to that site. This can involve anything from undertaking tank maintenance, inspecting and replacing pipes, and upgrading our systems and security at our Terminals.

Achieving successful safety outcomes takes more than a plan. More importantly it requires the right people and the support of every one of us.

Learn more about Viva Energy’s commitment to safety.

Find out more here


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