Keeping our people safe

Refining our approach to safety

Incidents in the past two years have prompted us to examine and evolve our approach to safety across our business.

Safety comes first in everything we do. We operate in technically challenging environments, with extremely large electrical and mechanical assets, and our people work in a variety of locations – at home, underground, inside large structures, on tall wind and hydro structures and close to large volumes of water. There is always a risk that an incident will lead to a fatality or serious injury for a staff member, a contractor, a customer or a member of the public, and we manage our risks as a priority to prevent this. We believe that everyone should expect to finish their work and go home in the same condition they started, and we’ve made some changes to continue evolving our health and safety culture and strengthen our defences.

Three serious safety incidents

In FY20 our calculated total recordable injury frequency rate for employees and contractors per 200,000 hours worked (TRIFR) was 1.23 (compared with 1.72 in FY19), representing eight people hurt (two injuries involved contractors and six involved employees)*. The main types of injuries to our employees and contractors in FY20 were hand injuries, slips, trips and falls.

ary barrier gave way, resulting in a fractured leg and 60 days off work. In November 2019 one of our employees who was working from home on night shift fell and sustained a facial injury that required surgery and 22 days off work. In April 2020 one of our employees cut his thumb while recommissioning a generator exchange at Te Āpiti wind farm, resulting in 10 days off work. We responded to these events with Learning Teams and subsequent actions to improve our defences.

Although we saw an improvement in our TRIFR in FY20, three of the eight injuries were serious. In July 2019, one of our contractor partners fell approximately five metres into a turbine pit when a tempor

* TRIFR looks at how many people are hurt when working for us, and includes contractors as well as our own staff in New Zealand. TRIFR is calculated by dividing the number of incidents that resulted in medical treatment, restricted work or time off work by the hours worked (1,162,135.33 by employees, 135,903 by contractors), and multiplying this by 200,000.

Total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR*)

Total recordable injury frequency rate chart
Meridian onsite (employees and contractors combined) Meridian onsite contractors Meridian employees
Total recordable injury frequency rate chart
Meridian employees Meridian onsite contractors Meridian onsite (employees and contractors combined)

* TRIFR is calculated per 200,000 hours and includes all lost time, medical treatment and restricted work injuries for Meridian NZ employees and contractors only. While we have incident numbers for Powershop New Zealand, Powershop Australia and offsite contractors, the TRIFR cannot be calculated as the number of hours worked for those periods has not been recorded.

Lost time injury frequency rate (LTIFR*)

Lost time injury frequency rate chart
Meridian onsite contractors Meridian employees
Lost time injury frequency rate chart
Meridian employees Meridian onsite contractors

* LTIFR is calculated per 1,000,000 hours and includes all lost time work injuries for Meridian NZ employees and contractors only. While we have incident numbers for Powershop New Zealand, Powershop Australia and offsite contractors, the LRIFR cannot be calculated as the number of hours worked for those periods has not been recorded.

Developing our safety culture

Our engagement survey asks our people to rate how they feel about our health and safety culture. The results in FY20 continued to be strong, with our people rating health, safety and wellbeing at 89% across the Group. The questions cover matters such as how people rate their workload, how well management care for their wellbeing, and how committed they believe the organisation and its leaders are to the health and safety of our people.

In FY20, with the introduction of new challenges from COVID-19, we evolved our already strong approach to mental health and wellbeing, as well as our approach to physical health and safety, to address the specific needs of people working from home.

While we remain confident that our safety culture and processes are strong, we’re not taking it for granted. So we’ve sought some specialist external advice, we’ve refreshed our strategy, and we’re making some changes to evolve our health and safety culture while keeping the bits that continue to work well. We've also created a new role - Head of Health and Safety - to lead the health and safety team.

Site-specific health and safety committees represent all employees on our sites, including contractors. These committees meet monthly to identify hazards and review incidents that have occurred. The representatives on these committees receive regular training in risk identification and controls and are supported by dedicated safety specialists in each of our business units, who provide deep technical expertise and support. This approach to safety applies to our assets in both New Zealand and Australia.

We’re also an active member of Stay Live, an electricity industry forum focusing on working together across the sector to improve safety. We have several Meridian people involved as chair of the forum and on multiple working groups.

We’ve introduced Learning Teams across our New Zealand businesses to replace more traditional investigations, with positive results. Learning Teams are an effective way of responding to events and improving our opportunities to gather better operational information and increase worker engagement.

Leading on safety

How leaders respond to safety is important and we’re continuing to invest in our leadership capability through targeted leadership development and tools to help leaders make decisions and support their people when things go wrong. We’re also simplifying our safety systems and reporting to make them more accessible and easier to understand for our people and contractor partners.

Being a business that deals with unique hazards like high-voltage electricity, large volumes of water and large machinery means we really need to know how well we’re managing the critical risks that come with these. We counter these risks through our ongoing improvement and upgrade programmes. Our process safety programme has continued to deliver improvements and assurance that can successfully manage the prevention and control of incidents that have the potential to release hazardous materials or energy, ensure that our assets are well maintained, and ensure we have effective safety systems.