Case Study: Safety in Design – Tauriko Greenfield Winstone Wallboards Gib Plant 

In the manufacturing sector machinery compliance is key. When projects span the globe, compliance can become a tricky issue, as codes don’t often cross geographical boundaries, and generally differ from country to country.

Winstone Wallboards (WWB), part of the Fletcher Building group, planned to construct a large greenfield plasterboard plant (GIB) with a value in the hundreds of millions to supply plasterboard to the NZ construction market. However they needed to ensure the highest safety standards were achieved and that the equipment coming out of Europe and North America would comply with NZ standards.  It was important that issues, risks and standards were raised, evaluated and verified early and throughout the project to ensure the finished plant complied to these highest standards. Therefore they engaged TEG Risk to apply a Safety In Design approach to the project. 

TEG Risk had worked closely with the WWB team at their Auckland site previously and understood their machinery and processes, as well as risks. This meant they could advise clearly around these considerations. This ranged from machinery risks, safety control systems, hazardous substances and areas, and combustible dust.

To ensure equipment coming from Europe and North America complied to the highest New Zealand safety standard the project broken down into several phases:

Pre-procurement specification: Based on a detailed understanding of the legacy equipment at the Auckland site and the new equipment and plant likely to be installed at Tauriko TEG Risk worked with WWB to produce a detailed specification for the project that would not only ensure international suppliers could meet NZ standards but that the residual risks would be very low with no ambiguity around acceptability of design.

Preliminary Safety in Design Reviews: TEG Risk worked with the WWB design team during preliminary design phases providing technical advice around areas such as hazardous areas (combustible dusts) and possible classified zones and extents. WWB used this information to produce a design that reduced the number and extent of zones, and limited the effect that zones of combustible dust might have on plant and equipment. This reduced the risk of fire and explosion and electrical compliance costs.

Pre-build Risk Assessment – HAZOP: Prior to the installation of equipment TEG Risk Facilitated Process Safety HAZOP’s (Hazard And Operating Analysis) across all plant areas where Process Safety Risk existed. This commenced during COVID lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 so the HAZOP’s were facilitated over video call with teams located in Canada, Sweden, Germany and multiple New Zealand locations.  Detailed assessments and improvement actions were identified, which the supplier and WWB then integrated into the design.

Pre-build Risk Assessment – Machine/General Risk Assessment: Like the HAZOP’s these were facilitated over MS Teams with participants located at multiple locations around the globe. This was done using 3D models of the plant and videos showing the plant installed at other locations. This included assessing the proposed machinery against NZ Standards and evaluating the residual risk the design would produce. General area and task based factors were also considered and this resulted in many safety improvements with the supplier (Gyptech). Leading to them creating new designs for the existing plant, to not only reduce risk but to improve operability or eliminate hazards altogether.

As-built machine risk assessments: Risk assessments of the machines were conducted after the machines had been installed. Risk assessments were conducted on-site and included the following: 

  • Verify the safety controls in place are as per the design stage risk assessments, and meet the NZ safety standards. Any non-compliances and improvements required were communicated to Winstone Wallboards (WWB) so the suitable remedial actions could be implemented by Gyptech (the supplier).
  • Machine details, risk assessments and safety controls were recorded in MinRisk. MinRisk is a purpose-built software for conducting and recording machine risk assessments and allows convenient record keeping / maintenance and access to machine data by a wide range of stakeholders (user management allowed). 
  • ‘Hazard overview cards’ are generated from MinRisk records and viewed through the Training Module. This is new software developed during this project for operator training. Operators can conveniently access a summary of risk assessments from any machine, on-site, via mobile devices. Hazard overview cards display information such as risks, safety controls, how to keep safe and photos of respective hazards.
  • Also, the lockout tagout (LOTO) details for each machine on site can be accessed via the Training Module.

With any large scale safety work there are challenges and this Safety in Design project was no different. As this work was carried out during the COVID lock downs and restrictions it was essential that tasks were completed remotely. Added to this complication was the multinational sites and stakeholders in multiple time zones. The scale of the project, number of moving parts and number of individuals involved also added to the complexity.

With the challenges outlined above, providing  Safety in Design advice in a timely fashion to resolve risk issues with no known solutions was challenging. The TEG Risk team drew on their manufacturing safety experience, engineering knowledge and TÜV training to overcome these challenges and provide timely solutions.

An additional challenge was that As-Built Risk Assessments were done in parallel with the installation and commissioning of the machines. This complicated and restricted the working environment, with a lack of data at times and shifting timelines. However it was important that this work was completed concurrently to allow WWB to access and address any non-compliances and improvements in real time, as well as provide operator training. 

The scale of the project was inherently challenging. 650+ unique machines were assessed. Which were combined into about 300 functional groups and risk assessment reports. This scale of work, complexity of site spread, disconnected time zones, and covid restrictions could only be carried out at speed and with accuracy with powerful safety software. In this way MinRisk was pivotal in helping our team carry out this work to a high standard.

Risk information needed to be communicated to the machinery operators most exposed to the risk.  This needed to be done in a way that was accessible and easy. Therefore TEG Risk developed the MinRisk Training Module to deliver Hazard Overview Cards and LOTO Cards to operators via mobile devices in a way that could be added to SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures and Training Records). Not only did this Training Module transform safety outcomes for WWB machine operators, but the Module is now accessible to any MinRisk account holders as an optional add on.

For WWB the safety outcomes from this project were excellent. At the conclusion of the safety work with TEG Risk they had a safer Plant with improved operability. A system and software for smoother verification and validation processes when commissioned. As well as a team empowered to make safety decisions with greater clarity around scope, especially concerning standards and compliance expectations. This resulted in a simpler process for managing machinery variations.

WWB also came away with an expanded useability and application of machine risk assessments. No longer a ‘one and done’ document, but a living software capable of collating risks across multiple machines and sites. Beyond that the Training Module, developed as a solution to key challenges on this project, had multiple safety benefits for users going forward. Machine risk assessments are now more accessible to WWB operators and present complex information in a format that operators can easily understand (via hazard overview cards). 

If you’d like to find out more about our Safety In Design expertise, or our large scale Machine Safety Risk Assessment Service, Hamish is happy to have a chat, or feel free to email:


Posted on

May 14, 2024