SNG with QRMCThe November quarterly Safety Networking Group session was hosted by Qantas at the Base Maintenance Facility in Brisbane.

Duncan Burton, a Qantas Operations Manager, presented on the application of the Six Sigma 5S system within their Base Maintenance facility. The presentation included practical examples of the improvements made to productivity, quality and health and safety through applying the 5S structure of:

  1. Sort the equipment – Sorting the needed from the unnecessary to reduce clutter and facilitate a neater, more efficient work space.
  1. Set the workplace in order – Have equipment where it needs to be – equipment stations were used to ensure equipment is always in the correct place when needed.
  1. Shine the work area – Creating a best practice approach to keeping the workplace clean and tidy at all times, with a simple example being painting the inside of hangars white.
  1. Standardise activities – Consult with employees on the best procedures to use to ensure effective and safe operation, provide visual controls and create systems of work. A weekly check sheet was developed after consulting with workers – it combines health and safety elements and other checklists.
  1. Sustain – Ensure all activities and changes that have been implemented stay implemented. Discipline is required to sustain the system. A saying had been adopted – “Doing something when it needs to be done even though we don’t want to do it”.

The benefits of 5S were detailed as better workplace organisation, safer workplace conditions and less slip/ trip hazards.

Sean Walker, the National Manager Safety Service Delivery, shared details of the Qantas Safety Services transformation to a centralised safety services business partnering model.

As a large organisation with seven separate airlines, Qantas has undergone a major transformation, moving towards a shared safety model:

  • to share learnings and leverage operational scale, remove duplication, align group wide priorities, and increase adaptability and simplification; and
  • Increase adaptability and ensure simplification.

The concept of Business Partnering was introduced to Safety Services where the safety team moved from a traditionally servile role to one of a being a partner with the business units. Together with this, Safety Services transitioned to become an enabler, with a focus to assist people in the business to undertake traditional safety activities. Whilst this is a challenge many businesses face, it would appear that Qantas is seeing successes in this area.

The morning concluded with a tour of the Qantas’ Base Maintenance Facility including the highly customised working-at-heights and aircraft scaffold docking systems.

The next Safety Networking Group function will be in late February 2017.



In 2005 QRMC founded the Safety Networking Group for senior safety professionals working in South East Qld. QRMC continues to coordinate and arrange for speakers to present at quarterly meetings and discuss information on contemporary WHS issues. Group members also share information from their workplaces or industries, which other members frequently find interesting and useful.

More information on the Safety Networking Group can be found on our website. Senior safety professionals contemplating attending meetings in Brisbane can contact QRMC.