Michael Byrne: Linfox

The twin themes of Michael’s delivery at the Australian Logistics Forum in Sydney last month were safety and education, and he left his audience in no doubt about his attitude to both.

“There is too much effort and wasted time over probably 40 or 50 years around architecture in infrastructure. Where we are failing is in developing the skills and talent and the education in our people to handle the supply chains of the future. What we are not putting enough effort into is developing and nurturing our talent.

“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. If you think the world hasn’t changed, you’re already doomed. If you don’t think it’s going to change even more at an accelerated rate, hold on, you are going to get passed by.”

Lindsay Fox is renowned for his passion for safety and Michael explained the rationale behind that. “Vision Zero is not done altruistically. It came about because I had six men die in Australia and New Zealand over about 14 months, and four of them had amphetamine in their system. We took a ruthless stand on drug and alcohol. Since that time, we have done 79,000 drug tests. We started with a failure rate 11 years ago of about 50 in 500. We did 9,700 drug tests last year and we had 30 failures, half of them were in management.

“Over 53 million paid employee hours of work and 750 million kilometres travelled last year, we had 81 injuries.  We had six fatalities, all in Asia, and we had truck accidents where 19 people were killed of which 94 per cent of them were other people’s error. Trucks are unforgiving things. It’s just straight mass and dynamics. We are a self-insurer, but it’s not about money. It’s about the fact that you can’t be a great company if you hurt anyone so I don’t allow anyone in Linfox to say that we are a great company if we still have 81 injuries.

“Safety is the only thing that bypasses the chain of command in Linfox. The most junior English-speaking supervisor must ring me within 24 hours of any injury or major accident. In Thailand, we work with the government to try to improve standards. They have 12,000 fatalities a year. We are sending our driver trainers and our safety people from Australia and embedding them in those countries. Why? Because it gives us a differentiator and it’s the right thing to do. And that is supported by our safety management network and a strong safety program to ensure that safety is always our first priority.”

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