Wheatbelt Steel: a people centric approach to safety

I was recently in the Wheatbelt visiting Wheatbelt Steel (WBS). One of the first things that a person will notice is the cleanliness and order of the work site.

Whilst it may not seem much, there is a deep routed professional culture that has been developed below the surface. The culture is supported by systems that are designed with people in mind. They are designed to reduce the risk to people and in turn the company.

An example of this is identifying and registering risks, prioritising them and then developing controls to treat the risk. However, those controls are designed with human behaviour and human needs as central to successful implementation. 

Wheatbelt Steel uses software to support a culture of continuous improvement, identifying, registering and prioritising risks and then developing controls to treat risks to people, customers and the company.

The controls draw on motivation theories, whilst also developing the abilities of the individuals in the organisation. They support positive role perception and adjust the environmental factors to support success. 

MARS model of individual human behaviour. A key framework used by VUCAP consultants in managing change. Image Credit: https://saidurcywlc.wordpress.com/

We often talk about leadership, culture and systems. WBS however, is an example of how the leadership of the outgoing CEO Pat McRoberts and the WBS Managing Director Russel Draffin, has come together to develop a culture that focuses on the wellbeing of people both internal and external to the organisation. They've achieved this by adopting a systems approach which increases productivity, customer service and ultimately the company's value. 

Strategic recommendations

1. Philosophically understand your organisation as an open complex system, driven by human beings and their behaviour. 

2. Develop quantifiable systems and subsystems that align behaviour towards ethical strategic goals. 

3. Adopt technology that allows for data to be aggregated and support good decision making. This will assist the organisation to make quick decisions based on evidence. 

4. Monitor and review these systems regularly at a board level, confirming that they are meeting human needs and adding to the organisation's market value. 

Further reading:

Organisational psychologists adding the competitive advantage


Andre De Barr


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