Safe Hands campaign in Australia


Hands on Safety

It’s hard not to take our hands for gran­ted. Whether we’re tex­ting on our phone, driv­ing or work­ing, we of­ten don’t give them a second thought. Yet the in­stant our abil­ity to use our hands and fin­gers is taken from us, we be­come acutely aware of how much we need them. That’s ex­actly what KAEFER team mem­bers in Aus­tralia ex­per­i­enced first-hand. As part of the Safe Hands Cam­paign that took place in April 2022, KAEFER em­ploy­ees worked in small teams to con­struct a pros­thetic hand for people in need around the world. The chal­lenge: do­ing it with their dom­in­ant hand im­mob­il­ised. The idea was to ex­per­i­ence just how dif­fi­cult it can be to work without the use of your left or right hand and to high­light the plight of dis­ad­vant­aged people, who have to over­come this chal­lenge every day. It also served as an ef­fect­ive re­minder to take care of hands and fin­gers in the con­text of daily work.

Lend­ing a hand

The ses­sions in­volved both team co­ordin­a­tion and prob­lem solv­ing, as the groups of three had to use clear com­mu­nic­a­tion and dis­cus­sion to con­struct a pros­thetic hand from a set of parts us­ing de­tailed in­struc­tions, whilst their dom­in­ant hands were im­mob­il­ised. “Build­ing the pros­thet­ics was an idea that came from Melissa Vainu, HSE Su­per­in­tend­ent – Ac­cess Con­tract at Olympic Dam (a re­mote BHP site in South Aus­tralia) who had heard about the concept and sent me a note about it,” Roy Ab­ra­ham, HSEQ Man­ager – East­ern Aus­tralia, ex­plains.

“The idea to pro­mote the Help­ing Hands Cam­paign came from a de­sire to im­ple­ment learn­ing that is en­ga­ging and genu­ine,” Vainu says. “Not only does it pro­mote a prac­tical ele­ment that lit­er­ally forces the par­ti­cipants to re­cog­nise what life could be like if they were to sus­tain a ser­i­ous hand in­jury, but it also al­lows them to be a part of something very spe­cial, as the pros­thetic hands built in this activ­ity are donated to those im­pacted by the loss of their hand.” Ab­ra­ham adds that there was a great deal of en­gage­ment from the par­ti­cipants: “as we worked our way through the ses­sions, en­ergy levels began to rise and there was much dis­cus­sion and in­ter­ac­tion. They were so ex­cited to talk about their own ex­per­i­ences and re­flect upon what they had done, and ul­ti­mately it res­on­ated with them just how im­port­ant it was to al­ways look after their hands, as life without them was dev­ast­at­ing.”

The fin­ished products were donated to people in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries who had lost hands or limbs to ac­ci­dents, ill­ness or land­mines, for ex­ample. Par­ti­cipants were also able to dec­or­ate the car­ry­ing cases and write a mes­sage on a greet­ing card for the re­cip­i­ent. For par­ti­cipant Gareth Calder, Senior Su­per­visor at KAEFER, “the Safe Hands Cam­paign has been the high­light of the year for me, know­ing that the hands we built were go­ing to as­sist oth­ers in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, which made me proud of get­ting in­volved. You never know when a help­ing hand will change an­other per­son’s en­tire life.”

Hand on heart

Hand and fin­ger in­jur­ies are wide­spread across in­dus­tries around the world. As part of KAE­FER’s safety cul­ture, it is es­sen­tial to tackle this head on and de­velop an ini­ti­at­ive to high­light hand safety and re­duce in­jury. “We had two main activ­it­ies for the Safe Hands Cam­paign,” Ab­ra­ham out­lines. “One was build­ing the pros­thet­ics and the other in­volved em­ploy­ees paint­ing their hands in the col­ours of our SMART Choice pro­gramme and pla­cing them on a ban­ner with their name and the reason why they want to take care of their hands.” This single-minded cam­paign, which also in­cluded posters, quizzes, fact sheets, present­a­tions and hand ex­er­cises, was ex­ecuted across all pro­ject sites in Aus­tralia with over 300 KAEFER em­ploy­ees at 12 sites tak­ing part in the pros­thetic hand build.

Cli­ents were also en­cour­aged to join in. This ini­ti­at­ive ties in to KAEFER Aus­trali­a’s ex­cep­tional per­form­ance in health and safety. “Our col­leagues Down Un­der have shown ex­cep­tional com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing em­ploy­ees,” says Head of Cor­por­ate Health, Safety & En­vir­on­ment, Mi­chael Sturm. “Suc­cess­ful im­ple­ment­a­tion of the team-based SMART Choices cul­tural pro­gramme has fur­ther im­proved line man­age­ment as well as em­ployee en­gage­ment and con­tinu­ing high per­form­ance in health and safety has led to the re­gion be­ing awar­ded the Best Safety Cul­tural Pro­gramme 2021 at the KAEFER In­ter­na­tional Man­age­ment Meet­ing.”

En­thu­si­asm was high for all ele­ments of the Safe Hands cam­paign, which led to an in­creased ap­pre­ci­ation for hand and fin­ger safety. But what had the most im­pact upon the par­ti­cipants was not just the chal­lenges in­volved with be­ing lim­ited to us­ing just one hand, but also the stor­ies of the am­putees whose lives were changed by the Help­ing Hands Pro­gramme. From young chil­dren in In­dia who had suffered ac­ci­dents to adults who had waited their whole lives for sup­port in over­com­ing their chal­lenges, these pros­thet­ics brought help, hope and a new sense of self-worth, all while rais­ing aware­ness on the other side of the world of how im­port­ant our hands truly are in all as­pects of our lives.