Pipeline and Civil

Congratulations to Pipeline and Civil for taking out the Safety Leadership Award at the 2018 Site Safe Health and Safety Awards.

A four-year journey to improve health and safety is paying off for one Auckland-based civil engineering company. We spoke to Pipeline and Civil’s General Manager/Health and Safety Manager, Hugh Goddard, about how a whole-of-business approach to health and safety has boosted profitability.


A medium-sized civil contracting company with over 70 workers, Pipeline and Civil specialises in water pipelines, water retaining structures and pump stations on both small and big projects. Their vision is to be New Zealand’s premier constructor of pipelines and related infrastructure.

What they did

Eager to step up to bigger projects, the company made the decision all of its systems needed to be top notch, including its health and safety, Hugh says.

The company’s goal become to maintain its “small company feel” but to operate with “tier one” systems.

“Our drive to improve wasn’t in response to an accident or injury – it was really responding to where our business needed to move.”

“We work with, and compete with, some of the biggest companies in New Zealand and our aim is to be able to keep up with and even better them, so that was a motivating factor for us.”

Having a clear vision for the future of the company was key to the decision to strengthen the focus on health and safety, Hugh says.

“We redefined our vision to be New Zealand’s premier pipeline construction company and that gave us the will to differentiate ourselves. For us it was all about where do we see the business in the future and what does success look like, and then working towards that.”

As well as keeping the team safer, making the long-term investment in health and safety gives their clients the assurance they are working with safe contractors, Hugh says.

“It’s around the whole concept of operational excellence – if you’ve got your planning done well and you’ve gone through it with the team and it’s been reviewed by all the parties, then when you go to do the job you’ve got it all ready to go - and that results in a much more efficient job – and that’s where it feels like we are now.”

Some of the steps the company has taken include:

  • Rolling out a bespoke safety training programme
  • Monthly site walk-throughs by directors on an ongoing basis
  • Introduced safety “Golden Rules”
  • Focus on “Big 5” risk areas
  • Invested in better edge protection systems
  • Developed a new pre-start task analysis process
  • Annual wellbeing checks and health monitoring
  • Created a safety dashboard to present key data to leaders
  • Senior leaders take part in Business Leaders’ Health and Safety Forum
  • Annual weight loss challenge
  • Invested in range of new software systems
  • Created new training and competency system
  • Manual handling training
  • Introduced mental health policy
  • Set up bi-monthly health and safety committee
  • Introduced annual safety culture surveys

Outcomes and Benefits

While the journey hasn’t always been easy, especially as a smaller, employee-owned business, Hugh says they have succeeded in securing the team’s buy in on the new approach.

“Changing the mindset of some of the workers was a key part of the process – and that takes time - but it was time well spent.”

“It’s all about building trust. People need to believe that the change is going to produce positive benefits in the long run. If employers are really engaged and wanting to keep everybody safe, workers will respect that sentiment and the team can see there will be benefits.”

“It all goes back to that engagement - if people know they are part of the team and feel that they are part of something then they will try harder to improve themselves as well.”

“Once you’ve got people involved – the sky’s the limit.”

Hugh says the changes have gone hand in hand with improved revenues, higher productivity and improved quality.

Other benefits include:

  • Decrease in injuries, and a decrease in severity of injury, despite staff numbers increasing
  • Increase in incident reporting
  • Health checks have resulted in the number of workers classed as “high risk” (in terms of health) being reduced from 50% to 16%
  • Improved staff retention and recruitment
  • Higher chances of securing contracts

Hugh says he hopes Pipeline and Civil’s story will inspire other medium sized businesses to think differently about health and safety.

“We wanted to share our story so that other businesses could see the benefits of having an engaged health and safety culture. Given our size, this has been a real effort requiring lots of hard work from the whole team, but it has really paid off – and at the end of the day it’s simply the right thing to do.”

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"Once you've got people involved, the sky's the limit."

Hugh Goddard, General Manager/Health and Safety Manager