The Pūhoi to Warkworth (P2W) project recently celebrated 8 million work hours. During the celebrations, the team reflected on the project’s journey and safety learnings.

The Pūhoi to Warkworth (P2W) project recently celebrated 8 million work hours. During the celebrations, the team reflected on the project’s journey and safety learnings.

On a recent visit by Justin Gardiner (Head of Health and Safety) and Olga Lukasiewicz (Southern Region Safety Manager), the P2W team presented their Critical Risk Program. Olga’s feedback was further recognition of the program’s great work.

“The pride the project team has of the safety journey they have been on is clear to see, as is how the integration of the Critical Risk Program has supported the project to gain control over key safety risks,” said Olga.


“The Critical Risk Training platform and tiered inspection groups ensure that safety is incorporated across the entire project and all share the responsibility.


“The project recognises that greater engagement and involvement is achieved by presenting safety messaging using visual aids. The Critical Risk Posters and associated QR codes are effective and well implemented.”


So why ‘Critical Risk’?

At the project’s midpoint, the team realised that safety performance had plateaued and the message needed to change. In July 2022, the project introduced a Critical Risk Framework Program that focuses on tasks that can result in serious harm. The key focus and wording was driven by what can cause significant injury. Nine key risks specific to the project were identified through a combination of project learnings, global industry best practices, and ACCIONA’s vast experience across its projects. The nine risks are Mobile Plant, Working at Height, Cranes and Lifting, Temporary Works, Live Services, Excavations, Live Traffic, Powered Tools and Equipment, and Servicing and Maintenance.

The framework of the Critical Risk Program focuses on a simplified safety system to drive engineering as a minimum for the control and management of all risks.

Rather than penalising staff not following the Critical Risk rules, inspections focused on driving positive two-way discussions with those on the ground. Teams used the discussions as an opportunity to educate and drive change. In many cases, safety improvements are discovered that can be shared with the broader team, and there was a focus on celebrating the positives. The project’s weekly newsletter shares inspection results, highlighting Health and Safety Champions and ‘what good looks like’.

The project also promoted a ‘leadership at all levels’ approach to safety. The philosophy was that a worker with five days of experience is a wealth of knowledge for a new starter. This was promoted to develop visible leadership through the teams.

The Health and Safety team developed a half-day Critical Risk Training platform that all staff must complete regardless of role or experience.

Tiered inspection groups were also implemented to incorporate all walks of life for site verifications. The groups are made up of staff from across the project, many of whom are office-based and would not typically experience construction-related health and safety practices in action. This way, the teams gain a greater understanding of the challenges faced by the frontline workforce.

The frontline workforce developed the tools and language to get maximum buy-in to the program, incorporating digital media and pictorial-aided Procedures and SWMS. QR codes were incorporated into all work posters, inspection tools, and safety booklets, allowing workers to access videos on what good looks like.

The improvements through the Critical Risk Program have resulted in an industry-led approach to safety that the wider New Zealand construction industry has recognised.

NZ Safety Manager, Leigh Mehmet, said, “Too often, the safety discipline highlights what’s not right instead of promoting what is right. The New Zealand market is a challenging one from a safety perspective. The benefit ACCIONA brings to NZ is their international experience and safety learnings, which via the Critical Risk Program has been embedded as BAU on Pūhoi and will be utilised on the upcoming Eastern Busway Alliance project.


“We’ve raised our standards through visual learning tools. The project developed a range of ‘what good looks like’ videos that can be accessed site-wide by the frontline workers via QR codes. And visual examples in our work packs and SWMS allow all nationalities – we currently have 37 different nationalities on the project – to quickly understand what’s required.”


Scan the QR code to see how easy it is to utilise technology to communicate safety requirements and digital safety aids.