Raintree Solutions – Global Partners in Change Raintree

Firm uses concept of emotional ownership to change workplace safety culture

Raintree Solutions CEO Richard Lawton interviewed by Mining Weekly.

Raintree Safety, a subsidiary of Raintree Solutions, a deliverer of change to companies and communities, says it is critically important to bring about change in South Africa’s mining industry by targeting a mining house’s safety culture to foster open communication, the development of trust and working together to achieve common goals.

Raintree Safety can achieve this by using a people-focused approach in safety culture transformation, through the concept of emotional ownership. Emotional ownership aims to achieve individual and collective ownership of safety to change the overall safety culture in a workplace, despite the cultural differences among the workers, who often regard safety and communication issues differently.

Raintree Safety bolsters emotional ownership of safety and environmental change using theatre, psychologically based workshops, specialised video, supervisor training and interpersonal skills training. The emotional ownership of safety can be used in conjunction with the safety training or safety systems already in place at the workplace to further enhance the safety culture.

Raintree Solutions group CEO Richard Lawton tells Mining Weekly that South Africans struggle with problems that stem from their many different cultural understandings and beliefs that tend to influence their approach and understanding of safety. “It is important that South African mining houses create a space in which different people can connect to foster mutual ownership.”

As a result of different cultures, divergent interpretations regarding safety and communication issues, the Raintree approach is increasingly regarded as an essential and a frequently recommended process for projects worldwide, he says.

Lawton says the Raintree approach has been implemented at clients such as global engineering, procurement, construction, maintenance and project management services company Fluor, global engineering and con- struction company and power equipment supplier Foster Wheeler, energy infrastructure project designer, engineer and manufacturer CB & I Lummus, petrochemicals company Sasol, international energy group Shell and mining major BHP Billiton.

The company has clients in the mining, manufacturing, oil, energy and banking industries internationally and has now worked successfully with thousands of people from 18 cultures and languages from 14 countries around the world and has worked on many multicontractor, multicultural megaprojects internationally, including mining major BHP Billiton’s Mozal aluminium smelter project, in Mozambique; Sasol’s growth projects and Turbo project, in South Africa, which entailed the uprating of an existing polyethylene plant and establishing a polypropylene plant; and petroleum company Shell’s [MASSIVE] Houdini ethylene cracker complex project, in Southeast Asia and Singapore.

Other companies which Raintree Solutions has worked with include vehicle manufacturers BMW, VW and Nissan, as well as global miner Rio Tinto.

The benefits to customers who adopt the Raintree approach of emotional ownership to safety include improved safety and communication, stronger work team relations, and collateral benefits to productivity and quality. Lawton says the Raintree results directly impact on a company’s bottom line, as every accident or stoppage prevented – besides avoiding the disruption, considerable financial and reputational costs – represents the additional value of improved site cultures, which can influence quality and productivity.

Further, safety is also a management tool because safety is a topic that will not be met by resistance from employees and it also has the most potential for improved dialogue, explains Lawton. Safety is a management tool that management can use to establish good rapport with workers, which, in turn, encourages dialogue and can assist in diffusing the situations that currently exist in the mining industry such as wildcat strikes.

Lawton stresses that mining houses have to provide solutions that are specific to the current problems. He emphasises that the mining houses, with the help of Raintree, need to approach the problem mine by mine and do this collectively to find solutions for the entire mining industry.

 

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