Back to news
« | »

Building a culture of collaboration



An interdependent culture is an environment where all stakeholders and contractors are engaged, look out for one another and work together to achieve a common goal. This is the safety philosophy at Apollo Projects Ltd. It is a philosophy which has driven change as we strive to create a truly collaborative safety environment.

The following document charts Apollo’s transition from a ‘systems heavy’ safety environment relying on the main contractor, to a streamlined system focused on engagement, ownership and collaboration.


Apollo Projects Ltd is a Christchurch based design and build construction company operating primarily in the food and beverage sector. It was established in 2001 by Paul Lloyd and Craig Waghorn.

The company’s first project was the Wairau River Winery and whilst they wore hard hats, the safety systems were minimal. However, this changed rapidly as Apollo completed work for more and more corporates – Fonterra, Lion, Tegal, and Foodstuffs to name a few.

By 2012, Apollo’s systems, inherited largely from Fonterra and Site Safe, had forms for filling out forms. Site Managers and Projects Mangers were required to keep registers for everything under  the sun and the simple fact was, only the surface of what was required was being done, and most employees and contractors alike, didn’t know what was really required.

Apollo identified that many issues started with the SSSP. Apollo had a standard  policy  which required all contractors to supply a SSSP, in line with or better than Apollo’s. This is the standard process throughout the construction industry.

In principle this is a great idea. In reality it is difficult to manage. Considerable time and energy is required to chase, review and provide feedback on companies SSSP’s – a challenge when there is available time, let alone when a project is under pressure! And then the documents sit on a shelf, untended, collecting dust. The effect was workers were disengaged and saw health and safety as paperwork.


In 2013, Apollo changed their policy. Instead of projects requiring each contractor to submit their own SSSP; therefore having ten or twenty or thirty SSSPs for a site, a simple solution evolved – develop one SSSP and make all contractors sign an agreement to follow it.

 It was a sort of Lord of the rings mentality – one SSSP to rule them all.

The effect this had was to instantly streamline safety on site. Contractors still had to complete a:

›    work method statement;

›    JSAs,

›    Provide training registers,

›    MSDS sheets and hazardous works notification;

But the key change was the site was being run using a ‘best practise’ system which eliminated double ups and confusion.

Essentially, it made safety easy.


In 2014, during a meeting with Fonterra, Apollo Projects CEO Paul Lloyd noted a cultural chart he believed suited Apollo’s direction. The cultural chart was the DuPont Bradley Curve. The chart illustrates how as a culture moves from a reactive, to a dependent, independent and then interdependent culture, injury rates drop.


The concept sat well with Apollo, as Apollo has always done things slightly differently. Paul challenged Apollo’s H&S manager, Gerry Sullivan, to adopt this cultural philosophy across the company.

Gerry identified that for a safety culture to develop, individuals need to have ownership of the process. Ownership comes when individuals know what to do. On the whole, people want to do the right thing, and when shown what it is, they will do.


Through the MOU with Fonterra, one of Apollo’s KPI’s was to score aspects of a project’s H&S performance against a measurement of culture based on the Bradley curve. Below are a snapshot of the results and the consequential effect of implementing the learnings from each project to the  next.


›     H&S was managed externally by a Fonterra appointed consultant

› Not one incident was reported to the H&S Manager by a contractor or site manager, which indicated the culture, was dependent on the H&S Manager, rather than a collaborative role.

› To move the culture from dependence to interdependence on future projects, Apollo focused on incorporating the H&S into the project management structure


› This project was undertaken within a ‘Ring Fence’ system in which the site was sealed off and all construction Health & Safety was under the management of Apollo

›     Apollo appointed a Site Manager with a dedicated H&S focus for this project.

› Systems were designed to encourage daily operations and safety meetings between site management, contractors and operations staff.

›  The overall project was a success and central to this was the application of the Apollo manager  and the open communication established between Apollo, the Store Management and the contractors.


› R22 unsurprisingly had the highest level of compliance out of the three Clandeboye projects. This was unsurprising as there was a consistency of the contractors used from CD2and the Butter Loadout Canopy.   The contractors knew the systems and expectations and worked to these.

› One area of note was the low-level of incident occurrence as identified by the Apollo Site H&S Manager. The manager undertook an investigation to identify if all reporting was being done in  all instances. The investigation identified no lack of reporting. He identified that contractors delivered a high standard of H&S compliance throughout the project.

› The key reason for the compliance was placed on good communication between trades, excellent attendance at site co-ordination meetings and the adherence to the Work Method Statements/JSA ensured incident free work.

› Also noted was the pro-active stance taken by contractors in toolbox talks, with clear communication providing excellent cooperation and good safety levels.

› Overall the R22 project was a successful project that reinforced the importance of having clear systems for contractors to follow and that safety is best managed when all personnel are collaborating and working together. On this project an ‘independent’ rating was achieved with moments of ‘interdependence’ where contractors took the lead and showed new contractors  how to meet the H&S requirements.


Central to safety is contractors knowing what they have to do. A daily  co-ordination meeting provides the forum for all parties to communicate and collaborate on what is happening, when and what needs to be done for it to occur safely. It is the safety tool in the guise of site management which gets buy in from contractors and develops relationships on site. The key also is once contractors understand the routines; they then guide others new to site.

H&S meeting   H&S board






H&S is most effective when systems are easy to follow, visible and individuals have ownership of. Apollo has applied the lessons learnt over the last three years to ensure all Apollo sites are run the same way and contractors know what to expect. Two crucial developments have been visual safety boards which capture key data and individual safety folders for each contractor.

The key component is to make it simple, the onus is on the contractors and the systems are visible. The effect is sites are run in such a way that contractors, because they know each other and communicate with each other, work in together and look out for each other. Sites are truly interdependent.


Interdependence in H&S terms is like a Nirvana. It is a state that we strive to reach. A state where all persons look out for one another, think about what they are doing and pre-empt the safest way to do it, before they start.

It is also the process of contractors ‘mucking in’ to support each other and understand they are all working towards the same goal. When it happens, it is great to be part of.  And the best thing is,  most don’t even realise they are doing Health and Safety. It becomes intrinsic. They’re just looking out for their mates!


“Apex has been completing Carpentry & Concrete packages for Apollo Projects over the past 3 years. We sub contract to many main contractors around Christchurch and find Apollo to be the leaders in Health & Safety along with fantastic QA systems, this provides an enjoyable culture onsite.”

Mike Hyslop, Contracts Manager, Apex Projects


“We worked with Apollo during 2015 on an $8m new build project for Fliway Limited. Apollo’s level of engagement on site and with us as the client around health and safety was of an extremely high standard and created a culture of openness, opportunity and collaboration throughout all areas of the project. It was clear from the moment you walked on site what expectations were in place and how you could operate within them. During an audit of their health and safety for the project our consultant found them to have a 100% compliance rate which is a first for our projects.”

 Lissa Birse, Development & Asset Manager, Southpark


“In undertaking my role as a Field Officer for SafeRebuild Canterbury I have witnessed the commitment to Health and Safety of Apollo Projects, whilst undertaking a site review with Gerry Sullivan.

On approaching the site I was impressed with the up to date and comprehensive Hazard Board. It was while referring to this information that I received a thorough induction including vital information on the possibility of an evacuation due to an ammonia leak at the nearby Freezing works.

The on-site H&S documentation was clearly organised and company specific, allowing easy access for clarification of task analysis, hazard identification, and hazard controls.

The regular morning contractor meeting allowed for easy co-ordination of the day’s tasks and resulted in plenty of cooperation between various subcontractors, not only on use of plant resources but also any possible H&S issues created through having many separate tasks underway. There was also good interaction between the subcontractors and project management, working together to anticipate issues and proposing solutions.

I believe this collaborative approach is a key factor in the success of Apollo Projects H&S process and have often referred to it as being “best practice” in my interactions with other companies; indicating that incorporating robust H&S practices into a business plan can create solutions that benefit the organisation.

Upon undertaking a site “walk around” it was evident that Gerry had anticipated many potential  H&S /production issues and made allowances in the schedule to mitigate them. I appreciated how thorough Gerry was in his comprehension of the building process and any possible ramifications on the Health and Safety of his workers. I recall his proactive actions in seeking to mitigate a potential issue with the recycling skip after becoming aware of an issue on another site.

I commend Apollo Projects for their open communication with their subcontractors and their pre- emptive approach to Health and Safety issues.”

 Leon Frapwell, Field Officer, SafeRebuild Canterbury


“Apollo Projects Ltd operates an engaging and collective approach to onsite Health and Safety. The format that they conduct their Pre-Start Meetings at the beginning of each day provides the opportunity for all contractors to understand each other’s daily tasks, as well as providing an open forum to help develop better communication between sub-trades.”

 David Fry, Director, David Fry Drainage.