Downer Defence – Holistic Management of Defence Estate Obstacle Course Operations and Design Assuring User Safety

ELEMENT A – Project summary

Downer Defence’s Base and Estate Management (BEM) and Estate Development and Base
Upgrades (EDBU) teams developed a holistic approach to managing user safety in Defence
Estate obstacle course operations and design. In response to a suspended rope releasing from
a coupling, we conducted programmatic visual inspections, asset verifications and risk
assessment of all in-use obstacle courses across Downer’s service area of the Defence Estate.
We established a Centre of Excellence to centralise knowledge of hazards, addressing the
incident’s root cause, standardising new course design, providing asset data training and
enforcing heightened, ongoing inspection requirements through the asset life cycle.

ELEMENT B – Project description

Downer’s enhancement of asset management practices for Defence Estate obstacle courses
adopted asset management principles to ensure the safety of Australian Defence Force users.
Downer’s approach addressed the unique challenges of obstacle course design and operations
by enforcing a customer experience focus as an outcome from activities performed by Downer
throughout the asset lifecycle.

A full ICAM investigation identified contributing factors that were not previously considered,
including the user hazards stemming from rope coupling designs, and design change
management in a dynamic project and Defence operational environment.
Downer implemented immediate actions to address these issues, including re-issuing the Rope
Coupling Safety Alert, ceasing obstacle course operations while conducting site inspections to
identify any other non-conforming rope couplings, and ensuring verification of all rope coupling
assets missing from the asset register.
Downer also facilitated data training for managing the Defence Estate asset register to project
teams and established a Centre of Excellence to centralise knowledge of hazards, safety in
design and asset lifecycle considerations (ongoing inspection and maintenance) for
implementation in future obstacle course construction.

ELEMENT C – Opinion as to the specific contribution

made by the nominated individual /team
Downer demonstrated a strong commitment to user safety through a holistic approach to asset
management. Adopting sound asset management practices, we addressed unique obstacle
course designs from historic projects through a programmed approach to inspection, verification
and replacement of hazardous rope coupling equipment.
Downer demonstrated originality and ingenuity in addressing the root cause of the safety
incident, conducting a full ICAM investigation and identifying contributing factors that were not
previously considered, focusing on the user experience of safety in obstacle course operations
and design.

ELEMENT D – General comments

Downer Defence has demonstrated outstanding achievement in the management of asset
safety in obstacle course operations and design. Our dedication to best practice asset
management principles, tenacity and capability improvements have resulted in improved safety
outcomes for the Defence customer.
The project demonstrates our use of asset management practices to continuously improve
asset safety management, and highlights the importance of a holistic and user-centric

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