Andy Wiggan, Komatsu’s National Service Manager, outlines what’s behind START SAFE – Which is a new process change designed to ensure Komatsu technicians start and complete every job safely with the goal of encouraging an active Safety conversation.


This supports our overarching Komatsu Safety Strategy – Safety by Design, Safety by Culture and Safety by Lifestyle! We also provide some comment and feedback on this new process from those who work with it every day, and the difference it’s making to them.


  1. 1. Engineering
  2. 2. Digital
  3. 3. Safety systems, policy and procedures



  1. 1. Leadership
  2. 2. Stories
  3. 3. Look out for yourself
  4. 4. Look out for your mates



  1. 1. Fitness
  2. 2. Mental health
  3. 3. Work life balance


At Komatsu, we have a vested interest in the safety of our people; our aim is Zero Harm, and we want each of our team members to go home in the same or better condition than they came to work. In order to achieve this, we have recently implemented a process we call Start Safe.

This will replace the old Take 5 which we have had for many years. START SAFE requires an employee to have a Safety Conversation, with another employee, before they start their job, to confirm that all risks associated with performing a task have been identified.

This conversation will also provide a means for the employee to confirm that these risks have been controlled as effectively as possible.

START SAFE will provide an opportunity for an employee, who is less experienced on a task, to learn from a more experienced employee, without feeling awkward about asking for help. It provides a means for more experienced employees to share their knowledge with other employees strengthening our Safety Culture.

It will provide our supervisors and managers a means of connecting with our technicians and showing their commitment to Safety. It is a real means of demonstrating that “Safety IS our First Priority”.

START SAFE is built around our Golden Rules. It adds a control verification step, specific to our Golden Rules 1 (Isolate all energy sources), 2 (Use appropriate prevention or fall arrest devices) and 6 (Never work within the fall zone of a suspended load) as per illustration 1.

We believe it will significantly help us to remove or mitigate the risks covered in our Golden Rules, by setting up the job safely at the start using input and experience from others.


David Butler, Komatsu’s National Service Technology Manager, explains how Komatsu developed and implemented START SAFE


START SAFE was developed in the KOMSERV platform, Komatsu’s service technician portal, an advanced platform to capture the end to end service process, such as – digital timesheets, condition reports, PM service and warranty reports directly through mobile devices.

KOMSERV itself was created internally by Komatsu with the aim to provide easy access for users through mobile phones, laptops, tablets and PCs. One of START SAFE’s main objectives was to align Komatsu’s safety processes with Komatsu’s Golden Rules.

START SAFE was initially introduced as a pilot in September 2019 to branches in Perth, Wacol and Auckland, later followed by all our other branches.

An important element of START SAFE is a verification process, which means that any time someone is working with stored energy, working at height with risk of fall or working with suspended loads, they are required to have a conversation with a Peer or Supervisor about the task before starting.

Although this was a major change from the TAKE 5 process, it has been well received by Komatsu technicians, supervisors and managers.

The number of START SAFE’s has increased by 40% since its inception. Because of this step change in START SAFE for the validation of controls – Our service technicians on average take an extra 2.5 minutes setting up the tasks safely.

Additionally, there is also greater detail of the task, hazards and controls, including photos and comments which are added to START SAFE.

Thanks to feedback from START SAFE, we are now developing and integrating an augmented reality (AR) system, which we have called KOMAssist. This new system allows face-to-face video chat, including sharing of the verification requester’s screen where they can add annotations to highlight hazards/ controls. The verifier can add comments and is required to sign off on the START SAFE, providing approval for the technician to proceed with the task.

KOMAssist is currently being piloted in Auckland, Perth and Wacol, with plans to roll these out nationally by the end of March 2020.


Feedback on START SAFE:

The Branch Manager - By Mark Harris, Komatsu’s Perth Branch Manager


The introduction of START SAFE on the KOMSERV platform provides a number of mechanisms to verify the elimination of risk and encourage conversation that ensures the perceived risk captures all associated hazards and controls within each task.

It requires verification of controls from peers, to leading hands, through to supervisors, escalating until everyone is satisfied hazards are appropriately controlled for tasks associated with stored energy, working at heights and working around suspended loads.

In addition, it fosters in our work teams a stronger culture for discussion regarding the task and method for conducting tasks.

A conversation at the location the work is being conducted draws on others’ experiences and learnings, and who may have completed identical tasks in differing environments or using other resources.

This helps create and develop respect within our team, including sharing of opinions and prior learnings, and promoting respect for others’ knowledge and their willingness to share.

The process in its design helps to create a culture where, we as a team respect the conversation, are willing to listen and take on board items discussed.

We also appreciate that we now have a process that is at the forefront of technology, and not only looking after ourselves, but also looking out for our workmates and their families.


Feedback on START SAFE:

The Apprentice - By Jesse Timms, Apprentice, Komatsu’s Perth Branch


I'm fairly new to this industry and Komatsu and have been employed as an upskill apprentice from light motor vehicle industry to a fitter. I've been fortunate enough to be included in this START SAFE program and I’m happy to provide some feedback.

As someone who's come from the light motor vehicle industry, where safety isn't a high focus, to an organisation that makes you carry out Take 5s for every job, I struggled. I never knew if I was completing my TAKE 5s correctly or if I was looking for the right issues. Now thanks to START SAFE, I have been shown how to do this all correctly.

The training was great and allowed me to better understand what was required, and thus making me feel like I was being as safe as possible, always.

The app on the phone is fantastic. It allows me to take photos and go and approach other fitters with pictures to ask when I have concerns.

Then, if they're concerned, they'll come and help me or can point out why it's OK.

I highly recommend this program; Take 5 used to be a quick “tick and flick”, but this program has me checking things more thoroughly.


Feedback on START SAFE:

NZ Service Manager - By Phil Morrell, Komatsu New Zealand’s Service Manager


With the development of START SAFE we have seen a cultural shift away from the “tick and flick” approach, towards this new system as a tool to enable a conversation to take place with a colleague.

This change in culture now focuses our teams in thinking about their safety, the safety of their mates and the overall message that safety is, our Number One Priority.

Our teams now have the tools to highlight risk, understand the controls required to eliminate the risk, or reduce it as much as possible.

It also provides the ability to help support people in building confidence by verifying that controls put in place are adequate, in particular the risks associated with Komatsu’s Golden Rules.

What is great for me to see is the teams having a conversation and thinking about how best to perform their tasks.

This may result in a recommendation to purchase new tooling or equipment, or just approaching the task in a different way by looking at safety as being part of their job.

As a result, we can see improvements in efficiencies on the job and confidence that the risks are either eliminated or reduced as low as possible.

We’ve also had excellent feedback on the recently introduced KOMAssist augmented reality (AR) system from our Auckland Leading hand, Willem Nel.

Willem stated that with KOMAssist, you are now able to have conversations through a live video chat, highlighting exactly what each person is looking at through the interactive AR function on screen, and then provide feedback on the spot to verify the controls are adequate and that everyone understands the task at hand.