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In 2010 Welsh Water in-sourced all our operational activity and grew from approx. 140 to 1700 employees. Over the last 5 years this number has grown to over 3000 employees. We needed to establish a new company culture and way of thinking about health and safety to ensure that all our employees were actively engaged in preventing injuries and ill health and that everyone goes home safely at the end of the day.

Working with RyderMarsh OCAID Ltd. we set up a training and awareness programme to help establish a culture where health and safety coaching conversations are the norm and there is an ethos of personal ownership at all levels. This programme became known as STEP – Safety Takes Every Person.

The programme started with the Executive and Leadership Team carrying out safety conversations. Over 300 line managers and supervisors were trained in tools to understand safe and unsafe behaviours and identify improvements. STEP messages were promoted through an awareness campaign, employee roadshows and a H&S Conference and 70 ‘STEP Cascade Trainers’ delivered 2 hour employee workshops. Materials including training slides, exercise materials and a DVD were provided for them to use.

We have seen a real ethos of ownership of health and safety right through the business from leaders down to front line employees. We have also shared our approach with our contract partners. This has resulted in employees and contractors making and reporting increased numbers of Positive Interventions year on year (over 28,500 in 2016-17) and also reductions in injuries (the overall RIDDOR Reportable Incident Rate has reduced from 851 in 2011-12 to 303 in 2016-17).


The success story

The first factor which made it a success was getting the senior leadership team on board. The whole senior team (execs and directors) received 2 x 1 day courses on BBS/ CS.

In the weeks between day 1 and day 2 they went out and had safety conversations. This is now part of their role, to have regular conversations on site. This increased visibility, together with a greater awareness of the issues people on the frontline have, has enabled the leadership team to support STEP.

Our Cultural Safety® Leadership  1 day courses for all other managers has helped them to understand human behaviour, human nature, and human error, leading to a more Just Culture when it comes to reviewing incidents and accidents, another success. They have successfully used “our” tools (TBO, Swiss Cheese, 5 Why’s) to get to the route cause and learn from incidents, thus preventing them from recurring (leading to a reduction of reportable incidents from 851 to 303).

The company appointed champions who rolled out the training to the frontline, and support was given to everybody through the proactive work of the safety team. Welsh Water hold 4 safety days a year and 2 health/ wellbeing days a year, as part of STEP to ensure a continual message is delivered, keeping safety in everyone’s mindset.

Further to this Welsh Water have just completed follow up sessions for senior managers, refreshing what they learnt 3 years ago and looking at current ideas around engagement and putting safety positively. It is now planned to roll-out similar refresher/ next steps sessions for the managers who took part in our Cultural Safety® Leadership courses.