What do motorcycle racing and airport property maintenance have in common? An uncompromising approach to safety, says Marty Craggill, superbike champion and director of MAZ Building Maintenance, which performs maintenance activities at Melbourne Airport. JOHN POWER reports.
Safety issues have dominated Marty Craggill’s professional life. A dual titleholder in the Australian Superbike Championship (1997 and 1998) and top-10 finisher in the British Superbike Championship in 1999, Craggill reached the highest ranks of professional motor racing in 2001 as a member of Team Pacific Ducati in the World Superbike Championship. Now aged 42, he remains a racer of world-class skill, having returned to the Australian Superbike Championship in 2009 aboard a Suzuki.
Craggill’s other great love is property maintenance, and as director of the Melbourne-based company MAZ Building Maintenance it is no coincidence that he has found his niche looking after safety-critical properties where excellent service is mandatory. Undoubtedly, the most challenging client in MAZ’s portfolio is Melbourne Airport.
“At MAZ we provide all Melbourne Airport maintenance services to Virgin, Qantas and Lufthansa,” Craggill says. “This includes plumbing, electrical, carpentry, cleaning, asphalting, concreting, gardening and scheduled maintenance programs – even locksmith work.”
The synergies between competitive racing and property maintenance are clear enough, Craggill says: both disciplines involve team members with specific responsibilities; safety is the top priority in both enterprises; and in both cases excellence is a direct result of systematised hard work – no shortcuts allowed!
“If you consider safety alone,” Craggill says, “maintenance around the airport draws direct comparisons with my racing days; an example is working with highly flammable fuel and making sure your machinery is in perfect condition. When racing professionally your bike is scrutinised every day, as is your riding equipment. High-quality gear is imperative – helmet, leather suit, boots, gloves, mostly made with Kevlar. There is a ‘no expense spared’ mindset when it comes to protection of your body and your workers’ bodies.”
According to Craggill, an equally strong ‘no room for error’ approach is absolute in a racing environment, an ethic that translates naturally to property maintenance. “Trusting a pit crew in a major race is similar to trusting maintenance workers in a building,” he says. “We have to make sure we are all up to date and aware of our environment; we have to communicate regularly and above all have an appreciation of danger. Which reminds me of a race at Brands Hatch, England, when someone failed to lock the wire of a drain plug on the radiator of my bike, which caused coolant to leak on my rear tyre. The result: I was thrown off, hitting a wall at around 130mph (210kph). The injuries I sustained were two broken feet, a broken leg, broken right shoulder and broken hand. That slip in someone’s responsibility could have killed me, not to mention other riders on the track. The moral of the story is that poor safety management can mean life or death… all my workers know that adherence to the rules is not negotiable. That’s why we are respected and valued at the airport.”
TRAINED EYE FOR DANGER
Upholding high occupational health and safety (OHS) standards requires a solid commitment from both client and contractor. At Melbourne Airport, Craggill notes, organisations like Virgin observe uncompromising procedures to minimise hazards, and MAZ personnel follow similarly rigorous codes.
“Virgin has very strict policies to adhere to and I go above and beyond this call to achieve a ‘no accident’ outcome each day,” Craggill says. “I have a trained eye for danger and teach this to my workers. I am sure I was conditioned to develop this skill during my racing days and think of it as a gift.”
Craggill adds that, aside from common sense and a desire to deliver excellence, a comprehensive range of formal certifications and regulations is the bedrock of a good safety regimen.
“OHS requirements accompanying maintenance procedures are based on strict regulations and certifications,” he says. “We are certified to drive on and around the runway, which involves specific licences and registrations of vehicles, regular updated inductions by the airport, aviation security identification cards (ASICs), as well as registration with aviation security and the Department of Infrastructure and Transport. The renewal of certifications and training is constant (an internal process).”
As part of this process, MAZ has its own risk management process, including: job safety analysis sheets, process and procedures, toolbox meetings, issue action reports, work method statements, statistical reporting, OHS safety map reporting, and customised OHS training.
A maintenance company that can handle the pressures of an airport can deliver top results anywhere, Craggill says.
“Given the high maintenance standards I have embraced in the airport environment and working with exposed airplane engines, we have found that this lends itself to other commercial environments such as hospital and food manufacturing. We are currently in talks with people from these industries, focussing on issues like the safe use of specific tools, or the value of using professionals who have experience in particle control – keeping a dust-free environment is invaluable in these industries.”
Marty Craggill, based in Melbourne, began his working life as a boilermaker in his late teens, working on elevators and shafts. This work enabled him to nurture his passion for racing motorcycles – initially just for fun. However, before long he was racing all over the world in a career that led to two Australian Superbike Championships, as well as eight years of competitive racing in America, Italy and England.