Aughinish Alumina describe, in their own words, the safety training 2macs delivered and the impact it has had:

At Aughinish Alumina we understand that even though we are part of Rusal – a world class organisation with proven procedures, effective systems and a well-trained, intelligent workforce – we still have serious accidents.

There are many reasons why accidents and incidents occur. It might be inadequacies in our  systems, procedures or training. In almost all cases the way we (people) act or interact has a significant impact on the cause of an accident. This might be a direct cause – by the injured person not following procedures or an indirect cause – where someone didn’t complete a task properly or write a procedure correctly.

As a business, we focus much of our attention developing and training people in our systems and procedures. We spend far less time and attention on how we act together.  With the continued occurrence of recordable case accidents, we set the objective to address behavioural safety. We didn’t want the negative connotation linked to the term behavioural safety and chose Safety Awareness as our programme.

We had proposals from several specialists to help raise safety awareness in the company. We recognised that Macnaughton McGregor offered professional experience which was grounded in the oil and gas industry and similarities to our own. They had a direct and effective approach. The first step was for them to understand our company ethos, the capability of our workforce and the nature / scale of our business. Macnaughton McGregor spent time on site meeting a cross section of management, functional teams and sitting in on our core daily meetings. Together we agreed the format for the training programme and ran a pilot workshop with the Plant Health and Safety group (PHSG). The feedback from the PHSG was excellent and the group felt it was worth running for all employees.

The workshops are aimed at challenging the way we view loss control. They question how we each think about safety and the work we do, as well as provide tools for us to interact differently with our colleagues. The workshops use drama-based learning. They are far removed from the usual PowerPoint presentations. Two Macnaughton McGregor trainers run each of the highly interactive and thought engaging sessions. They use their own experiences, case studies (living and otherwise) and group work to illustrate why we do some things and not others, why we make mistakes, how we communicate and what barriers do we / don’t we overcome. On the second day small groups practice what was learned on day one through safety conversations with people in the plant. Safety Awareness training has been given to the whole workforce. In the first year 350 frontline people were trained between February and May. These workshops comprise a cross-section of operations, craft and line management. There was an excellent commitment from everyone. The remaining 100 people in the plant were trained in early 2015. The nature of the workshops made it easy to achieve 100% attendance – a rare achievement.


The difference made

It is equally rare to hear consistently from people that they have enjoyed a workshop – but that was the feedback. Within months we started to see changes in the way those who had attended the workshops viewed their work. The level of safety awareness increased.

The feedback from the workshops themselves was very positive. A lot of open comments on problems from the past and recognition of the difficulties this new way of working would pose. There was an overriding willingness to embrace the safety awareness and give it a go. Some persistent themes emerged. Some people perceived problems with the plant safety culture – the competing focus with production, problems as people reach retirement. In many cases people simply acknowledged the need for change. There was specific feedback on workplace practices and conditions, with positive improvement suggestions.

The awareness process raised the hard challenges of running the plant safely and working through the issues. We started a powerful process of open and honest conversations about issues that affect the safety of us all. We recognised we couldn’t resolve them all at once – but through sharing the information we were better able to tackle the important ones. The foundation of Safety Awareness has enabled the organisation as a whole to embrace Just Culture, to use safety conversations at all levels and to build towards the ultimate objective of peer to peer conversations. This is not all plain sailing.

We still have accidents, injuries and process upsets – only now our approach to overcoming and learning from them has changed and is more open. As a company we engage with all levels and there is a collective willingness throughout the company to get to the root cause without judging and so help each other to express our concerns and share our safety awareness. Most importantly there is an emerging common acceptance that this is in everyone’s interest. It may be a coincidence, but even though we had 2 LTAs, our overall recordable accident rate reduced and in 2014 we had the lowest incidence of first aid accidents in the 30 year history of the plant.

This was in a year when we introduced a major project 6 months ahead of schedule and had an accident free annual day shutdown.