How Meerkats Created an Award Winning Safety Culture

All for One – The Meerkat Way has sold to over a thousand organizations worldwide, in a
variety of languages. It has also featured as part of a number of awards for safety training
programs. Two Australian organisations are among the safety award winners.
The pharmaceutical company, Alphapharm Pty Ltd, the winner of the Australian National Safety
Award for the Best OHS Training Program, used the meerkats as the symbol for behavioural
safety awareness. The program was launched in a training room decorated as a Kalahari
Desert scene and both posters and meerkat mascots (soft toys) were widely used as part of
the program.

THE ALPHAPHARM TRAINING APPROACH

Background

Brisbane based Pharmaceutical company, Alphapharm, has grown from a company with
twelve staff and four products, to a leader in the manufacture and export of Australian made
pharmaceuticals. Last year, Alphapharm manufactured more than 2.5 billion tablets and
capsules. It is the leading supplier of prescription medicines available through the PBS.

The Safety Initiative

A decision was made to develop and implement behaviourial-based safety within
Alphapharm, which involved the creation of a well structured and engaging training program
aimed at the establishment of such a culture. This program was designed to provide a
sustainable behaviourial change and subsequent culture change which required a change in
employee behaviour at all levels. Employee participation and ownership of the process was
identified as being essential.

The Safety Program

The 2.5 hour training program was developed inhouse and delivered to all 560 employees at
the manufacturing site located in Carole Park, Brisbane. The program was based on:
Blended delivery style, themed environment (room and presenter dress-camoflauge style),
use of video presentations (to reinforce concepts), computer based exercises, and team
based activities.

Highly visual presentation that utilised 3 real life stories, inlcuding Meerkat learningreenactment
of a true life work accident and the consequences of the actions.

Features of the Initiative

To achieve an ongoing sustainable behavioural modification program, the Behavioural Safety
training workshop needed to deliver a message that would engage and motivate staff to think
safe 100% of the time.

The Meekat was adopted as Alphapharm’s symbol for safety. Staff were introduced to ‘The
Meekat Way’ based on the DVD – ‘All For One – The Meerkat Way’.

To reinforce the ‘The Meerkat Way’ eight (8) simple principles were introduced:

Step up to Safety
Listen to your Safety Instinct
Be Consistent
Communicate
Learn from each other
No blushing
Keep Improving
Cooperate

A training room was themed to replicate the Kalahari desert and nomad tent . The room was
sealed off from site use and no one allowed entry until their scheduled sessions.
Communication to site staff training schedules communicated, Meerkat images and
messages placed around site (buildings & gardens). These messages were designed as
‘teasers’or the program.

Employees

Personal Safety – Presenting staff with a new way of thinking about safey. This can heighten
their awareness of personal safety and the impact an incident can have not only on
themselves and their family, but their co-workers as well.

Teamwork – looking out for one another. Good teamwork requires trust (identifying unsafe
acts as having someone’s best interests at heart) , respect (for anyone that identifies unsafe
situations, no matter who they are) and communication (idenitfy hazards, accept criticisms if
doing an unsafe act). Following the example set by Meerkats ‘Interdependant SafetyCulture.
Morale’ knowing your co-workers and the company has your best interests at heart. This
promotes an overall feeling of a workplace ‘family’ and a commitment to adhering to safe systems of work.

Culture

The health and safety culture within Alphapharm has developed into one of a consultative and
supportative nature. Staff at all levels are comfortable in challenging unsafe behaviours and
accepting similar critique where necessary.
Safety Performance
The safety performance of Alphapharm has improved considerably over the past years that is
demonstrated by reduced injuries and insurance premium costs. The introduction of
behavioural-based safety will only serve to enhance this performance.

Program Outcomes

It is envisaged that the outcomes from this program will be a workplace that is free of injury
and a workforce, through a consultative and supportive attitude, that is fully committed to a
safer workplace.

Program Successes

The overall feedback received from the participants was unprecedented in Alphapharm’s
history. The vast majority of participants rated the training very highly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.