City Enterprises are Palmerston North City Council’s operational and services business unit. Their staff of 265 takes care of Palmerston North’s core infrastructural services - from construction to repairs and maintenance. They keep the city’s water and wastewater treatment plants running around the clock and collect rubbish and recycling from 30,000 homes each week.
Fuelled by a strategy of “continuous improvement”, City Enterprises recently achieved ACC Fleet Saver Gold. “We look for every opportunity to be more productive and maintain our competitiveness,” says General Manager, Ray McIndoe. “We are safe operators. That’s the most important thing.”
There are 53 gleaming trucks in Palmerston North with brand new ACC Fleet Saver Gold stickers on them – and they all belong to City Enterprises, Palmerston North City Council’s internal civil construction unit. Despite the big job they’ve got on their hands keeping the city’s infrastructural networks and facilities running 24/7, they’re always looking for ways to make their business safer and more productive. After four successful ACC audits to Workplace Safety Management Practices (WSMP) Tertiary Level, General Manager Ray McIndoe and Senior Administration Officer Sylvie Hickton found themselves asking, “what next?”
“You get to this really high level of safety, and you’re proud of that – but it’s difficult to maintain the impetus on safety. You have to do something next,” says Ray. That’s when ACC Fleet Saver came up.
“The auditor recommended going straight for ACC Fleet Saver Gold,” says Sylvie. City Enterprises did just that, bypassing Bronze and Silver to aim for the highest level. “When I got the (ACC Fleet Saver) audit standards from ACC, I found that we had already covered most things through our WSMP tertiary accreditation. So we came right out of our WSMP tertiary audit and within two months we had attained ACC Fleet Saver Gold.”
According to Sylvie and Ray, there were no big changes to their safety processes. “It was just a matter of bringing together the documentation,” says Sylvie. “ACC Fleet Saver is just another example of continuous improvement and keeping the emphasis on the importance of safety,” Ray says. “It maintains the safety ethos of the business” which Ray believes is important - “because any business that doesn’t take safety seriously is not going to survive in the long run.”
City Enterprises’ staff are involved in system reviews, and Sylvie noticed how drivers took ownership of the ACC Fleet Saver programme. “They take it all on board,” she says. Since joining ACC Fleet Saver, drivers are more aware of safety issues. “They’re more conscious of all of that now. Their whole environment within their vehicles and machinery is safer. And they’re really proud of that.”
“The thing you notice is that the guys take pride in their vehicles,” Ray agrees “more than they did in the first place. It gives me confidence as the manager to know staff care about their work environment and safety.” Recently Palmerston North’s new mayor Grant Smith joined City Enterprises’ staff on the rubbish run. “He was impressed not only by their competency but the way they took pride in their gear. They didn’t clean it up for him. That’s what they do.”
Grant Smith and the previous mayor attended City Enterprises’ ACC Fleet Saver Gold presentation ceremony. “That demonstrated to all our staff that safety is seen as important,” Rays says. “Having the stickers on their vehicles is a way to demonstrate the focus the business puts on safety,” adds Sylvie. “It displays not just to our staff, but to members of the public, that we are committed to providing safe practices and safe workplaces.”
“We are safe. That’s the most important thing,” says Ray. “The other thing is, we do actually make savings.” For a business that must demonstrate market comparability for the $40 million worth of business they do for the Palmerston North City Council, it’s important to be able to demonstrate productivity and safety to ratepayers. “With ACC Fleet Saver, we can make operational savings and maintain the focus on staff safety.”
Since gaining ACC Fleet Saver Gold, City Enterprises has further reduced their low rate of accidents. That has a positive flow–on for staff and productivity. “Even a minor incident like a ding to your rear vision mirror or park light can be a huge disruption to the worksite,” says Ray. “You just need a vehicle off the road for an hour or two for it to really affect your productivity.” Not only does that affect productivity, but it means that staff have to work late to compensate. “The guys would have to work ‘til 6 or 7 at night if a truck was off the road. That makes a difference to your staff – and that’s most important,” says Ray.
Joining ACC Fleet Saver has made City Enterprises an estimated $9,000 of annual savings. They save on ACC registration costs, fuel and maintenance costs. “There’s not a lot of process around it, so it’s not costing us money to access these benefits,” says Ray. “In fact, being able to demonstrate that we’re maintaining those processes lets us make savings in terms of our ACC cost.”
Looking ahead, Sylvie feels that ACC Fleet Saver stands them in good stead for any upcoming health and safety changes. “The question is,” laughs Ray, “what do we aim for next?”