Safety collaboration

Collaborative safety planning, management and delivery of the Thameslink London Bridge Area Partnership works

This case study reviews the collaborative aspects of safety planning, management and delivery of the Thameslink London Bridge Area Partnership works.

In December 2017 Jacobs were commissioned to undertake a review of the collaborative aspects of the planning, management and delivery of the Thameslink London Bridge Area Partnership works in Key Output 2 in order to produce a legacy document that will inform and inspire subsequent programmes of work.

To gather the required information, a series of seven workshops were held during January 2018 with a cross-section of key staff, both past and present, from all partner organisations. Workshop discussions were captured and reviewed and a number of recurring themes identified. This case study considers safety.

The full report can be read here

Background Information

It is understood that there were significant improvements in safety performance between KO1 and KO2.

Success Factors

Independent safety culture survey

NR used an in-depth independent survey process in order to understand the supply chain’s cultural position as it related to safety. This involved numerous workshops with 10-15 people at each session. This reflected NR’s desire to be collaborative rather than ‘directive’ in this area.

Openness and sharing of best practice

There was a sharing of best practice between contractors which is rare in the industry and helped drive improvements in safety across the whole Partnership. Contractors and sub-contractors in particular have been known to hide safety issues, but this was definitely not the case here. In some cases, sub-contractors have actually been more willing to report issues than directly employed staff.

Going beyond compliance

There was a focus placed on going beyond compliance with an emphasis placed on care and wellbeing, mental health and dietary information etc. This was found to be good for team building and strengthening the collaborative team ethos.

Willingness to change

The Partners trusted NR, understood their issues and where appropriate changed their processes as a direct result. One example is the development of a ‘Just and Fair’ approach by Costain. This new process is led by their works superintendent and ensures operatives who have fallen below the required safety behaviour standards are given the opportunity to tell their side of the story. The facts in each case are properly assessed and a proper decision is made the following day. This has generated important learning as well as delivering improvements in performance.

Red and yellow cards

A yellow and red card system was introduced for PPE issues and expanded to all safety behaviours. This was applied directly to Balfour Beatty and their sub-contractors. If NR or others infringed the required standards Balfour Beatty removed them from site and wrote to their employer explaining the circumstances; Siemens have upheld all red cards issued to their staff (resulting in a 6-12 month ban from the site).

Directors’ Safety Group

When safety incidents occurred the management approach was ‘no blame’, open and honest with a willingness to share failings. This led to the development of the Directors’ Safety Group (DSG) across the Partnership which focused on finding the best way to put things right. Over time DSG evolved from formal meetings only into a more open ‘expo’ roadshow talking to staff on site. This was found to be much more effective at influencing staff behaviours at all levels.

Our Safety Culture Journey

Safety Leadership Team

Balfour Beatty drove the development of a very successful Safety Leadership Team (SLT) with membership from NR, BB and sub-contractor staff as well as labour agencies, civils, signals and track teams. The team met monthly to resolve issues and implement solutions.

Collaborative design of CDM strategy

The CDM regulations were not a straightforward fit with the project requirements in KO2. A series of workshops were held with Partners to model possible scenarios and find a model that would work and would comply with the regulations. A total of five scenarios were voted on by the Partners and the so called ‘doughnut model’ was selected.

Focus on ‘Significant Events’

NR typically focusses on reporting in accordance with the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013 (RIDDOR). To improve on this a Significant Event Process was implemented which switched the focus from ‘actual harm or damage’ to ‘potential for harm or damage’. This revised approach was seen as a real enabler of a collaborative approach to safety. It meant suppliers were able to be entirely open about both the incidents and the root cause analysis that was undertaken. The key features of the process were:

  • Senior level engagement and joint discussion of incidents in real time.
  • A simple matrix developed to classify and define significant events.
  • Regular ‘Embedment Checks’ reviews to confirm the new approach was working effectively
  • A documented process with timescales etc.
  • Sharing of learning across all Partners.

Potential Learning

Challenges in consistent application of policy with regard to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This lack of consistency across construction and maintenance has caused some issues and it would be sensible to look at how these may be avoided in future.

Further information

For more information on this Learning Legacy case study please email