Armidale Regional Council – Safety culture review


Armidale Regional Council amalgamated in 2017 with Guyra Shire Council and commenced operation under a new CEO and executive team who commissioned BWC Safety to conduct a safety review of the high level safety risks across Council.

Outcome from the WHS review

While the review confi rmed that many work processes were in order, it did uncover several instances where the level of safety risk could be improved through the implementation of a systematic safety program.

A tailored solution

The executive was determined to implement best practices in all facets of a safety transformation program, focusing on both safety culture and safety systems.
BWC Safety guided the implementation of the main components which are listed below:

1. Establish strong governance

through the formation of a Peak Level safety committee and supporting functional safety committees. Coaching and guidance was provided to all safety committee members and developed a WHS reporting process which tracked both leading and lagging indicators of safety.

2. Implementation of a safety leadership program.

Managers and supervisors received training and coaching in leadership and safety competencies. Leaders commenced regular, planned safety interactions with their workers which identified high risk tasks and considered ways of doing the job more safely.

3. Transition to an ISO 45001 safety management system.

The existing safety management system was quite rudimentary and loosely based on AS4801. BWC Safety revised the system and prepared it for transition to ISO45001 accreditation.

4. Safety Strategy.

Provide guidance in the preparation and management of the safety strategy and improvement plan.

5. WHS staff development.

The safety team received direct coaching and mentoring from the BWC Safety consultants which built internal capability and allowed them to gradually take over the safety transformation program.

Measurable Results obtained

Injury rates were reduced by 25% each year in 2017 & 2018.

Worker’s compensation costs reduced and a substantial bonus payment was made by the provider, StateCover, due to the reduction in injury claims.

The number of High Potential Incidents reduced from 6 per year to zero over the two year period.

The improvements in the safety management system enabled the Capital Works department to win substantial state road projects.

Comments from senior staff


“Dear Michelle, I am writing to thank you for your assistance in running Armidale Regional Council’s recent safety sessions. Thank you for sharing your safety journey and humanising safety, including the ripple eff ect on our workplace and communities. The importance of our commitment to being safe , both at work and in our normal life, cannot be underestimated. Feedback from staff that attended has been very positive and I personally thank you for making a diff erence to safety at Armidale Regional Council.”



“I have worked in many heavy industries before joining local councils.  Transport, Logistics, Fuel, Ports, Machinery and understand the importance of safety fi rst-hand. I had experience of some members of BWC Safety when they worked for DuPont 10 years ago when I was working with Aurizon.
Bernie Walker the Principal Consultant is one of the most experienced safety professionals in Australia and is well regarded internationally.  He is the best safety professional I have worked with in my 30 year career. His team worked tirelessly to improve the safety culture at Armidale Regional Council to impart and develop the internal competency of our employees to enable them to continue to work on safety culture over the long term.”


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