The University of New South Wales (UNSW), one of Australia’s leading research and teaching universities, recognized the need for an enhanced Environmental, Health, Safety, and Sustainability (EHS&S) system to meet its complex requirements.
In a discussion with Karl Baumgartner, Head of Safety at UNSW, led by Jessica Hogan, EHS Business Analyst of Product Management at SAI360, we explore Karl’s unique perspective and insights gained from his experience in the aviation and maritime industries, shedding light on how SAI360 has facilitated this transformative journey.
Q&A with Karl Baumgartner
Q: What made UNSW want to implement a new EHS&S system?
Karl Baumgartner: UNSW is responsible for managing safety across multiple faculties including Engineering, Science, Arts, Law, and Business, as well as disciplines of Chemistry, Biology and Radiology. We also run the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) in Canberra. The scope of safety at UNSW is huge.
“The university chose SAI360 because it offered a single solution that could scale as we evolve.”
We had two repository systems that held our risk management forms and safe work procedures, also known as Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) and Safe Work Method Statements (SWMS). One system was no longer going to be supported and the other one was not suitable, which meant we had two systems to replace. The university chose SAI360 because it offered a single solution that could scale as we evolve.
Q: Now that you’re consolidating two different systems, what have you learned from your data?
Karl Baumgartner: We’re just a month into the deployment of the new system, but we are finding the data to be very easy to access. From a user perspective, it’s easier to make a hazard report. We’re starting to glean a lot more—what I call fidelity—a lot more information, rich information about some of our key risks that we want to close in on. We will start to unpack the control effectiveness functions in the system as well. It’s growing every day. We’re putting more and more hazards in, more and more controls. Once we start connecting that and building the database up, that will provide a lot more reporting fidelity, as well.
Greatest EHS&S Challenge
Q: What do you think your biggest challenge rolling out the program is going to be in the next 18 months?
Karl Baumgartner: I’m pleased with the reporting side. It’s the safe work procedures and the risk management forms, as we call them, that’s the biggest challenge.
I’ve adopted a motto this year: “Think Safe, Be Safe, Home Safe.” “Think Safe” means before we undertake a hazardous activity, we should think about how we’re going to perform the task safely, identify the hazards and manage the risks with the view to prevent an incident from happening.
“Think Safe” is risk management. How do we identify our hazards and how do we manage our risks? “Be Safe” is the “doing:” Before undertaking a task, have we briefed everyone? Are communications clear? Are we fit for the task and received the training required to undertake the task? Have we reviewed our safe work procedures to understand what the key risks are and how we’re going to manage them as a team?
The risk management forms and Safe Work procedures are the document component of “Think Safe.” Our biggest challenge is to get people to start thinking about it instead of just ticking a box and being compliant. Our objective is ultimately to prevent a serious injury or at worst a fatality. How do we make it more real, more interactive?
Experience Working with SAI360
Q: What’s your most enjoyable experience working with the SAI360 team?
Karl Baumgartner: I found the SAI360 team to be flexible. Any changes requested were not a problem. The best part was the insight based on the team’s experience with other clients. They would ask “Have you thought about this?” or “Have you thought about that?” or “We’ve seen other people do it this way.” It wasn’t just a tech provider saying “Here’s a framework off-the-shelf. Now you take over.” It was insightful safety information.
EHS&S Benefits and Lessons Learned
Q: Is there any advice you’d give other customers thinking about implementing a solution?
Karl Baumgartner: In hindsight, have a look and go over your policy and procedures first. That forms the build of your electronic system. The electronic system is the enabler of your policy procedures.
The biggest success factor out of this is the two teams. We invested in resources to support the implementation project and engaged our frontline user base for their critical input. We didn’t see this as just an investment in an IT platform. We’re also building expertise in-house. So as the project team separates, and we get into BAU (Business as Usual), we’ve got that expertise and knowledge in-house.
Q: If you had an unlimited amount of time, resources, and team members, what would you like to do?
Karl Baumgartner: Safety needs to be embedded within the business at the front line, so for me, everyone owns safety not just the safety department: It becomes embedded in our culture where every day we “Think Safe” on how we prevent a serious incident from happening before we undertake the task.
“Safety needs to be embedded within the business at the front line.”
We have a small, centralized team to help support, coach, and advise. I could throw 100 safety people out there monitoring and doing proactive safety and assurance activity. But how do I get my frontline to think safe and be safe? How do I get them to think about it before they do something? What’s the risk? What are the hazards? How do we manage that as a team?
We’ve got a real opportunity to train our students in safety, so they go out to the commercial world already equipped in safety. “You train as you play,” I always say. So how you train is how you end up playing. If I can influence my world, it will only help my world. Reducing injuries, reducing mental health injuries, physical and mental, and knocking down my workers’ compensation claims. If we all make safety a daily discipline, it’s no different from how you manage your finances or a company’s share price.
SAI360 offers a personalized, configurable, and comprehensive EHS&S software solution that can help you improve compliance, reduce risk, and boost efficiency. Let’s start a conversation: https://www.sai360.com/request-demo/request-demo-ehs