Nyrstar's Hobart plant - Operating in Plain English
Nyrstar is a major international industrial company with a large-scale zinc smelter located in Hobart. With around 490 full time staff and 120 external contractors, Nystar Hobart is a major local employer and contributor to the Tasmanian economy.
Reasons for the 26TEN grant
Consistent work processes are essential for safe and efficient production at Nyrstar. A variety of written policies and procedures underpin Nyrstar Hobart’s operations. The documents varied in style and complexity, with some being 20 or more pages of small print. This made it harder for workers to move from one task or area to another and for outside contractors to quickly understand procedures.
Nyrstar identified the need to redevelop their policy and procedure documents into standard procedures that could be easily understood by their workforce and contractors.
Nyrstar now has a plain English template for all standard procedures. Twenty essential processes are now in plain English, supporting Nyrstar’s continuous improvement. There is also now a small team that continues the rewriting of procedures.
During the 26TEN project Nystar:
- redeveloped its Induction Booklet into plain English
- redesigned an initial set of 20 standard procedures using plain English and helpful pictures
- tested and benchmarked staff literacy and numeracy levels
- provided plain English training to 88 Nyrstar supervisors and line managers through 26TEN short course presentations
- developed a standard procedure template and style guide
The project also led to additional skill development opportunities for Nystar staff through workshops and training sessions and by working through the process.
In the words of Nyrstar’s workers and contractors:
- ‘The move to a Plain English procedure format has direct benefits for training and ultimately safety on our site.’ Richard, Plant Manager
- ‘The new procedures format helps the new kids on the block, the photos make things self-explanatory.’ Mathew, Contractor
Nystar sought a 26TEN grant to:
- evaluate and convert a sample of their polices and standard procedures into plain English.
- design new standard procedure templates that would be easier to read and understand.
- develop plain English writing skills for staff responsible for the ongoing roll-out of redesigned standard procedures across the Tasmanian operation.
Nyrstar had a large number of policies and procedures to be redeveloped. Because these documents are critical to safety and efficiency, Nystar saw value in making a commitment to support the project and contributed by providing:
- 200 hours for their training coordinator, Tammy Reeves, to run the project
- active participation by line managers, team leaders and workers in plain English workshops and the writing, testing and roll-out of redeveloped standard procedures.
- three additional staff seconded from their regular jobs to work on the roll-out of plain English standard procedures.
Support, commitment and involvement from senior management were essential to the success of the project.