Cadbury Australia Revisits the Values of the Past to Drive a Safer Future

Published: 2009

In the early days of its history, Cadbury Brothers was a family business in the widest sense of the word with the employees being thought of as part of the family. With the expansion of the business, a more formal management structure evolved in 1905, and works committees were set up to deal with matters concerning working conditions, health, safety, education, training and the social life of the workers


This early attention to the welfare of employees has been at the heart of Cadbury’s culture ever since and led the company to engage DuPont in December 2005 to undertake a global Behavioural Based Safety Readiness Audit. The goal of the audit was to determine the strength of the sites’ safety culture and practices. Amongst the sites around the world nominated to undertake the audit were the Tasmanian manufacturing site at Claremont and its subsidiary site at Burnie.*

*Safety statistics and commentary for ‘Claremont’ include both sites.


“We’ve come a long way culturally and safety is ‘business as usual’ now, as we move into a new phase of becoming a Centre of Excellence. But a COE isn’t just about the kit but also about ensuring the engagement of the whole factory, getting everyone to step up a level. As we train our teams and immerse them in new ways of working, safety is the key message. If you can’t do something safely, don’t do it,” said Damian Carden, Site Operations Manager.




With relatively few manufacturers in the area, the Claremont plant is staffed by a loyal, long-serving workforce. They were a confident team of people, who had become accustomed to long-standing work practices without assessing their safety, and to injury rates that elsewhere would be considered unacceptable. It was a case of not knowing what is missing until it becomes apparent.


Prior to 2006, Cadbury Australia’s safety agenda was administered by an outsourced safety function, under the agency of the HR department. Manager, Nigel Cowen, remembers ‘we had a third party provider for safety management, which sent the wrong message to employees, that safety wasn’t a key concern for the site leadership. The safety advisors had little influence over the leadership team with the result that the safety strategies didn’t get the traction that they needed to be successful.’


Claremont’s safety performance had remained stagnant in the six years prior to the engagement of DuPont, with LTIs fluctuating between 54 and 75 per year. It became clear that the existent strategy was failing to serve employees and the Cadbury heritage of corporate responsibility.


The initial DuPont evaluation, made a number recommendations ranging from the creation of a detailed safety improvement plan to better, more consistent communication between business units, operators and contractors and management and their confectionery teams.

“The kind of culture required is characterised by integrity, honest communication and top to bottom corporate ownership”

Dwane Scott, Manager

Further it was emphasized to the leadership team that ‘you get the level of safety excellence that you demonstrate you want.’ Taking this message onboard, the leadership team determined to own the issue of safety within the Claremont site, appointed an in-house Safety Management function and engaged DuPont Consulting Solutions as the vehicle


for change. In the words of one of the site’s area managers, Dwayne Scott, ‘the journey with DuPont has been an experience in which experienced professionals have guided our business to finding the right way for us to go, to make the changes we needed to make.’




In 2006, the first phase of the engagement saw the leadership team work with DuPont to develop the structures and tools the site required. Some tools enabled leaders to connect meaningfully with all members of the site community through safety observations and incident investigations, whilst others assisted them in improving the reporting of incident data to track more effectively and react more efficiently to incidents.


One of the structures established was a set of life-protecting rules which set clear boundaries of responsible behavior for the whole site and clearly defined the consequences of any breach. However, rules alone do not create the culture required to keep a workforce safe and later other structures were added to underpin and compliment the set of rules.


Another important structure was the Safety Leadership Team and its sub committees focusing on specific aspects of safety such as the three most common types of incidents recorded in 2004 and 2005, manual handling, ergonomic and positions of people.


The second phase saw the training of Supervisors and frontline leaders as the new philosophy of ZERO HARM filtered through the organisation and galvanized a growing belief that ALL INJURIES CAN BE PREVENTED. Middle level employees became proponents of safety observations and incident investigations, through which they and their teams learnt to identify both safe and unsafe acts and take action to ensure improvements.


The findings of the observations and investigations were recorded as Cadbury staff developed the skills to collect and analyse safety data and were now able to identify trends in the organisation to inform the focus their future efforts.


2008 saw area managers and frontline leaders learning to train their teams and newcomers. This important skill development enables the site to continue its journey towards safety excellence and develop an increasingly interdependent, engaged workforce.


During 2009, the fourth phase of the programme is enabling all levels of the organisation to employ Safe Act Observations and Root-Cause Analyses. A further development in 2009 has been the introduction of a Contractor Safety initiative, which is enabling Cadbury to keep a tighter control over the safety of everyone working on the site, including sole traders and labour hire personnel that principally work in installation and plant maintenance. Ensuring that everyone working onsite is conversant with Cadbury’s practices not only increases the level and awareness of safety for all but ensures that Cadbury’s own culture is not diluted by external influences.




Jamie Salter, Area Manager, recalls the first development he noticed, as a result of the programme was in the way he looked at safety; ‘coming from the floor, I probably had some of the old habits myself, but being a leader now, I learnt not to walk past an unsafe act and how to get people to stop and think. A few years ago the primary concern of management was the speed and continuity of production, but now, if it’s unsafe our team knows to stop and find a better way of doing it.’


What Jamie describes is a demonstration of FELT LEADERSHIP, the philosophy of management that clearly and publicly announces safety as a core value. Instilling this shift in leaders’ thinking and inspiring a positive response in work teams has had a profound effect upon the Claremont site as the chart below illustrates.

“We clearly understand the impact that poor safety has from a financial point of view and also from the perspective of staff morale.”

Nigel Cowen, Manager for Continuous Improvement

Continuous Improvement


The leadership team is always looking for ways to improve both safety and production and ultimately the bottom line.


Nigel Cowen has recently been appointed to the new position of Manager for Continuous Improvement, with responsibility across all agendas, driving to realise greater value.  Nigel explains, ‘We clearly understand the impact that poor safety has, from a financial point of view and also from the perspective of staff morale. Ownership and empowerment issues can lead to poor performance and whether you’re looking at a performance issue with a piece of equipment that’s not producing as it should or you’re managing a performance issue related to safety, it has the same detrimental effect on the bottom line.’


Moving forward, the site faces one of the biggest challenges in its history. In late 2009, Cadbury Australia will restructure its production sites to create centres of excellence. Claremont will become the centre of excellence for moulded chocolate blocks and the changes to machinery, premises, process and practice are unprecedented. The discipline that managers and teams have harnessed in their efforts to improve workplace safety will be called upon again to achieve an efficient transition towards specialist production. In talking about the restructure plans, Dwayne Scott, Area Manager for Assortments comments, ‘if a business wants to make any change for the better, the kind of culture required to make that happen is the same culture that DuPont Consulting develops, characterised by integrity, honest communication and top to bottom corporate ownership.’


Nigel Cowen adds that the Cadbury team is proud of the evolution the site has made but stresses, ‘getting a regular DuPont ‘health check’ to identify the gaps, suggest what could be done better and review our continued progress is still warranted as we go forward, for a while longer yet.’


ABOUT CADBURY Cadbury is a company with a long history in Australia and a passionate commitment to making everyone feel happy. To learn more about Cadbury visit: www.cadbury.com.au