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Ron Mitchell (left) leads the Heavy Haul Rail and Road Systems practice of Ausenco in Perth, Australia, and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; and Rob Close (right) is general manager, Health, Safety, Environment and Community, in Ausenco's Vancouver office.
Senegal, West Africa, is a place without much safety culture. Truck loading crews are expected to ride on the vehicle's bumper. Few employers provide hard hats. And the philosophy is "whatever it takes" for getting the job done. However, in a project involving a short-line railroad in Senegal, we were able to achieve 4 million person-hours without any lost-time incidents (LTIs).
Ausenco is a Brisbane, Australia-based provider of engineering and project management services. Ausenco's portion of the project in question involved repairing 110 kilometers of existing one-meter gauge railroad, adding 25 kilometers of new track and building an export facility in Dakar. All of the track crossovers and loop ends (siding turnouts) had to be replaced, and there was extensive sleeper (crosstie) replacement.
For this project, Ausenco supplied engineering and procurement services from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and construction and safety management personnel from around the world. All personnel joined the mining company, Grande Côte Operations S.A. (GCO), in GCO's desire to have a healthy and safe workforce. Steps that Ausenco and GCO took to build a safety culture along with a railroad are applicable in any part of the world. The philosophy we followed was that safety is everyone's business — that everyone on the site, at whatever level, has both the right and the obligation to report unsafe situations and practices. Some success factors: