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Walls Construction conducts its business by giving priority to health, safety and welfare at work and the Company’s approach is best encapsulated in its motto, “Arrive Safe, Work Safe, Leave Safe”.
Alan Worrall, Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) Co-ordinator with Walls Construction is a member of the CIF Steering Group for this year’s Construction Safety Week programme of events, has worked with Walls for over 16 years on construction projects large and small. His experience since 2003 includes the rapid expansion of the industry during the Celtic Tiger years, the subsequent downturn and the economic recovery in the industry since 2015. Alan has direct experience of how these major changes impacted on health and safety, and how the industry, which continues to evolve and change, should best ensure that its health and safety practices are robust and fit for purpose.
Alan states: “I have been very lucky to see great efforts being made in safe work practices and a culture of continuous improvement in terms of health and safety, and this can only be seen as a positive for the industry”. Alan references interventions like Construction Safety Week and the Workers Memorial Day, while mental health and well being programmes, managed in conjunction with the CIF and its partners such as Pieta House and Aware, are making a valuable contribution to a key aspect of health and safety in construction today.
Alan has recently moved into a new role with Walls as HSE Coordinator and is now sharing his knowledge and experience with new staff in a business that has seen its employee numbers double in the past three years. “5 years ago, we had a safety team of 8. We now have 17 HSE Advisors and this number will continue to grow due to volume of work plus the requirements for highly professional HSE cover on all our projects”.
A team ethos is very important in Walls and the Company’s core values embody mutual respect and personal accountability, amongst its employees and other third parties including design teams and subcontractor personnel.
Alan states “We strive to improve our safety standards and encourage a culture of positive engagement and communication with all parties. We recognise the importance of good planning and how it impacts on the key components of a project lifecycle, especially safety and health on site. We must promote and facilitate continuous improvement and should never become complacent”.
Walls recently migrated to ISO 45001 Safety Management System through assessor BSI in the UK. A key requirement of the standard is visible senior management leadership and commitment. This is done in several ways including, more recently, the promotion of various health and wellbeing initiatives, such as:
- A company-wide Employee Assistance Programme
- Medical check-ups for all employees
- Healthy eating options
- Pilates/yoga classes
- Reduced gym membership
- Flexible working hours
- Meaningful engagement with local communities such as providing SafePass and Manual Handling training and visiting schools close to construction projects
- Full support and participation in Construction Safety Week (CSW) 2019
Alan believes in the importance of getting the safety message across to all workers in a simple and easily understood manner.
“From experience, I find that if you keep the safety message simple and relevant, aim to pitch it all levels and explain why it is so important, it results in positive outcomes. We do this as part of our site-specific induction plus we encourage participation in daily white board meetings plus our Great Catch or ‘Fix it in the Field’ scheme. In such cases we reward the person with a voucher and acknowledge them though our safety meetings and site notice boards”.
Alan also emphasises the importance of being a good listener and respecting a person’s opinion: “A safety professional, in fact all those working in construction, should never underestimate the importance of good communications and consultation”.
Walls Construction recently facilitated the CIF by providing a construction project to record several safety videos for Construction Safety Week 2019. We hope that these messages will continue to assist all relevant stakeholders in the industry to continually endeavour to keep the safety message top of their business agenda.
“Construction Safety Week is now being seen by all staff/contractors as a very positive intervention and every year the range of topics and events organised is giving more and more focus to health and safety, to the extent that employees are asking what is being planned for the week in the way of events, and speakers, which is tremendous” states Alan.
Alan Worrall, Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) Co-ordinator, Walls Construction.
Construction Safety Week 2019 takes place from October 21st – 25th, for more information and to register as a partner, please visit cif.ie/safety-week/