Innovation and Safety in Construction

February 21, 2023
  • Safety
  • Innovation

Pete Zmuda, CPB Contractors Manager Safety, Health, Environment, Quality & Sustainability, explains that on the upgrade of Melbourne’s M80 motorway our team trialed an Automated Cone Truck, designed to reduce manual handling and risks associated with traffic management.

The construction industry is seeing a drive for more innovation, with newer, better, stronger, more newsworthy delivery methods being regularly unveiled. 

The amount of new technology available to assist safety risk management is astounding. At CPB Contractors, we evaluated over a dozen different systems to minimise people and plant incidents, and continue to trial these on our projects in an effort to keep our people safe. 

We want to prioritise solutions that make work simpler, more productive and better able to deliver safe outcomes. Safety is a core part of our organizational culture and we’ve integrated our safety protocols into the delivery and management processes we follow across all operations. 

This is driven by two key programs, our One HSE Culture and our Safety Essentials. framework. One HSE is a leadership framework that applies to everyone, regardless of role or location, while our Safety Essentials set the minimum requirements that must be applied to manage critical risks.

A commitment to a safety culture must be sustained and supported over years. It’s a long-term investment that must be consistently supported. This is an important point to make – because it takes time to embed a culture, to change the way people behave and to change “the way things are done around here”. CPB Contractors does not change its safety approach with each project or with every management change – consistency is key. Both our key safety programs have been in place for more than ten years.

Of course, having a long-term commitment to a safety culture shouldn’t be confused with a resistance to change. On the contrary, CPB has earnt for itself a reputation for innovation in safety. We’ve learnt that the successful adoption of new technology relies on people, change management and training. 

On the upgrade of Melbourne’s M80 motorway, our team trialed a new safety innovation, an Automated Cone Truck, which was designed to reduce manual handling and risks 
associated with traffic management. By placing and retrieving traffic cones automatically, it reduces the need for road workers to enter high risk live traffic environments to manually place and remove the cones.

The M80 trial proved the innovation could operate successfully in a live project environment, while also enhancing productivity and improving safety. There were three key lessons we learnt:

  1. Support from the client is essential. We were fortunate to have a sophisticated client that saw the potential merits and benefits and was open to collaboration and working with us to trial something new on their project. 
  2. Focus on things that matter the most. The innovation addressed a critical risk – working with live traffic – not a second order issue.
  3. Innovations need to be embedded. If innovations are a one-off then we have lost the opportunity. We are now working with the supplier of the Automated Cone Truck to develop new vehicles and bring them to market. This will ensure our whole industry benefits from the solution. 

The success of the M80 trial was confirmed with winning the Victorian Government’s Major Transport Infrastructure Authority Director General’s Health and Safety Innovation Award. 

Looking ahead, CPB’s experience implementing successful trials provides confidence for the future. Our ongoing commitment to One HSE Culture and Safety Essentials mean that we have strong foundations in place.

These foundations enable innovation. They give us confidence that the fundamentals have been taken care of and we can look for new solutions with confidence. 

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