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Industrial and Safety

Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety (WIS) comprises three main operating businesses: Blackwoods Australia and NZ Safety Blackwoods; Workwear Group; and Coregas.

Blackwoods Australia is a leading supplier of industrial supplies and safety products to businesses and offers a significant range of quality and competitively priced products. This year, a significant consolidation of its operations took place through the merger of 17 branches and four distribution centres, simplifying its structure and brands offered to the market.

NZ Safety Blackwoods in New Zealand services business customers from an extensive national branch network in a range of specialty areas including maintenance, repair and operations (MRO), engineering, safety, workwear and packaging.

Workwear Group is Australia’s largest provider of industrial and corporate workwear, featuring iconic Australian brands such as Hard Yakka, King Gee and Stubbies. Coregas is a fast-growing national industrial gas distributor serving customers of all sizes through multiple sales channels including Blackwoods Gas and Trade-N-Go Gas.

During 2016, we carried out a rigorous process to prioritise the sustainability issues most relevant to the business’ key stakeholder groups and retained focus on high priority areas which include:

  • Health and safety: WIS measures its safety performance and drives initiatives to minimise injuries and ensure employee wellbeing.
  • Product safety and quality: All consumer products WIS supplies must be safe and meet consumer guarantees.
  • Ethical sourcing: WIS looks to source products in a responsible manner while working with suppliers to improve their social and environmental practices.
  • Climate change resilience: We strive to reduce the emissions intensity of our businesses and improve their resilience to climate change.
  • Diversity: WIS strives to create an inclusive work environment to promote diversity both in terms of Indigenous engagement and gender diversity.

This data does not include Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety's operations in Asia or the United Kingdom.

Product safety and quality

Providing our customers with safe products that meet required standards remains a key focus in Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety.

During 2016, we established an accredited product test laboratory in our Global Sourcing Office in China, giving us the opportunity to test products closer to their source of manufacture. This will ensure safety and quality issues are identified quickly and addressed prior to shipping.

We also enhanced our purchasing specification procedures with a checklist to ensure thorough product safety and compliance due diligence is completed before a product is launched. This checklist includes mandatory packaging requirements and product related risk assessments which will further strengthen sourcing processes.


Workwear Group has also been enhancing its product safety and quality frameworks. Our supplier compliance guidelines includes the requirement for suppliers to adhere to minimum performance standards for testing, restricted substances, inspection protocols, metal detection, needle controls and product packaging.

Product development has also been improved with a new process to assess risks during the garment specification, design and production process.

Finally, Workwear Group has representation on committees reviewing compliance standards pertaining to the industrial industry. In 2016, the focus was on AU/NZS 4602.1 for high visibility clothing. This representation is crucial to ensure the ongoing safety for consumers and the commercial viability of any proposed changes.

Health and safety

At Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety, we believe each and every one of our team members deserve to come to work, do their job, and return home without the risk of injury.

As at 30 June 2016, we reduced the rate that injuries occur in our business by 24 per cent as measured by TRIFR (total recordable injury frequency rate) to 8.7*. This shows we are creating safer workplaces and injuring fewer people, primarily through programs aimed at injury prevention, early intervention and returning to work after an incident. 

In particular, this approach led to a significant 61 per cent reduction in injury rate at Workwear Group.

In Blackwoods, branch and warehouse teams have been well-supported during the branch merger program with careful risk management planning, resilience training and leadership tools and resources.

*This includes Workwear Group team member data which was not reported in 2015.

Safety performance


total recordable injury frequency rate
2016   8.7
2015   11.41
2014   11.0
2013   13.8
2012   24.7
1 Restated to include Workwear Group


Ethical sourcing

Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety seeks to source products in a responsible manner, while working with suppliers to improve their social and environmental practices. The result of our approach is showcased in our biggest 'Greener Workplace' range in the latest Blackwoods catalogue, with more than 1,000 products in the range.

During 2016, Blackwoods completed a review of all 279 domestic suppliers. This review included follow up actions required to comply with our standards which cover product ethical sourcing, impact of wood and paper, workplace health and safety, packaging, and product quality and safety.

These standards all underpin the WIS Ethical Sourcing Policy. 

As part of our drive for continual improvement, Blackwoods also reviewed and implemented an improved ethical sourcing audit template. Workwear Group developed a similar compliance guideline suppliers need to endorse, covering terms and conditions for manufacture and supply, the Ethical Sourcing Policy, Supplier Code of Conduct and all manuals pertaining to product quality.


Gender diversity

Working towards a fair representation of women at all levels of seniority in our business is integral to our aspiration to build a high performing culture and world-class businesses. 

We currently have 45 per cent overall female representation and in senior leadership roles 25 per cent female representation. This is an encouraging position for what is traditionally a male-dominated industry. However, there is more to do.

We have been facilitating small, group workshops in key locations in Australia and New Zealand. The purpose of the workshops is to lift the visibility and profile of female leaders within our business, foster new relationships and support networks, and seek open and honest feedback about what makes Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety a great place to work and what we can do better to attract and retain talented women in our business.

The outcomes of these sessions will form the basis for an updated and contemporary gender diversity strategy for the business.

To further raise the profile of gender diversity, we are also running Women in Leadership networking events for team members.

Indigenous engagement

We continue to work hard to promote Indigenous partnerships, suppliers and employment within Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety, with these highlights in 2016:

  • We partnered with Geared Up Culcha, an Aboriginal owned and operated company and a Supply Nation certified supplier. This resulted in winning a significant new contract to supply Workwear Group clothing to more than 7,000 employees of a major government department.
  • Vivid Indigenous Services was appointed as the cleaning contractor for the office space at our Greystanes distribution centre in Western Sydney. Along with providing competitive pricing and a service enhanced by the use of modern technology, the national cleaning services and facilities management provider is committed to providing work and training opportunities to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the local area.
  • New Start Australia is an Indigenous labour hire business that recently began its partnership with Blackwoods by placing a number of team members into our Gladstone branch. 
  • Boolamarr hand care and sanitisers are sandalwood-based products made by Richard Walley, an Aboriginal Nyoongar man, and his team in Western Australia. These products are promoted in the new Blackwoods catalogue. Driven by strong customer demand and our own supplier diversity programs, the number of supply partners in our range of Indigenous products has doubled during the year.
  • Team members celebrated NAIDOC week and National Reconciliation Week around the country with internal campaigns and activities.

Blackwoods has been contributing to Indigenous health programs for many years through its partnership with the Fred Hollows Foundation. Fundraising is linked to sales of a select range of 'Foresight' products in the Blackwoods catalogue, as well as employee and supplier support.  This year, a milestone was reached when our total donations reached $500,000.

Climate change resilience

Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety continues to progress investment in climate change initiatives.

The Blackwoods sales and branch team use Toyota hybrids, replacing less energy efficient vehicles and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

We continue to focus on sustainable buildings. All new locations feature energy efficient LED high bay lights coupled with translucent roof sheeting and photocell controls to ensure daylight harvesting. We have now installed more than 1,000 LED high bay lights across the network.

We have plans in place to further reduce carbon emissions through installing solar panels in selected sites around Australia.

Energy use


2016   1.5
2015   1.4
2014   1.4
2013   1.1
2012   1.1

2016-17 priorities

Our priorities for next year will continue to promote activity across a wide range of sustainability priorities:

  • Further developing a culture of safety in our behaviours and care for each other and our customers.
  • Progressing product safety and quality initiatives across our higher-risk product categories, such as own-brands, along with ethical sourcing audits of suppliers.
  • Promoting gender diversity and women in leadership initiatives.
  • Expanding our Indigenous supplier portfolio and supporting our key customers on their supplier diversity agenda.
  • A focus on renewable energy in the form of solar photovoltaic systems and improving waste management practices.

GRI Reference: G4-DMA, G4-12, G4-EN33