CIF Member Focus: Collen Construction on Minding Your Mental Health

Joe O’Dwyer, Health and Safety Manager with Collen Construction writes about the company’s ‘Minding Mental Health’ programme.

Collen Construction has taken part in Construction Safety Week since 2016 and has sponsored Construction Safety Week for a number of years. Each Construction Safety Week, Collen has launched a themed safety campaign: ‘Mindfulness’ in 2016; ‘Near- Miss Reporting’ in 2017; and ‘Stop the Drop’ in 2018. This year Collen launched our ‘Minding Mental Health’ initiative.

Construction Safety Week

Construction Safety Week is an excellent initiative of the Construction Safety Partnership Advisory Committee (CSPAC), and Collen Construction was delighted to be one of the key sponsors again this year.

It provides the industry with an opportunity to refocus on the safety, health and wellbeing of its workers, and provides a forum for companies to demonstrate the great work that they are already doing in this area.

Each year, Collen’s wellbeing committee also takes the opportunity to launch our own health, safety and wellbeing initiative. This year we invited nine guest speakers to conduct presentations during Construction Safety Week.

Mental Wellbeing

Research shows that 10 people a week in Ireland take their own lives – eight out of these 10 are men. The construction sector is about 96% male. We know from research that workers in the construction sector are part of these statistics. As a company, we have focused a lot of our effort in the past on managing safety issues. However, in recent times, we have realised that we need to give time to supporting people’s wellbeing.

Our hope with this initiative was to challenge the stigmas that exist around mental health, stigmas which all too often stop people from asking for help. We want to encourage and support men and women across all our projects to think about their own mental health and to care more for themselves and each other.

Construction Safety Week at Collen

During Construction Safety Week 2019, Collen welcomed Dermot Carey, Director, Safety and Training, CIF, to one of our data centre sites for a ‘Minding Mental Health’ workshop, hosted by Theatre at Work’s Annette Tierney. Annette is a specialist in the field of theatre-based learning, and since 2000 she has been using theatre techniques to create transformative learning events for organisations across a variety of sectors. Annette delivered her play ‘Out of Sight’ during which participants had the opportunity to understand and spot early signs that someone needs help, such as confused thinking, prolonged depression, excessive fears, social withdrawal, substance abuse or inability to cope.

Collen facilitated mental health workshops throughout the week. Finola Harrington from Ripple Zoo delivered a talk on mental health and wellbeing and Alan Farrell from Pieta House, who also gave a talk on World Suicide Prevention Day earlier this year to Collen staff, spoke about positive mental health.

In line with the CIF Construction Safety a guest speaker for each day to give a presentation or practical demonstration.

Cathal McGrath from PowerPoint Engineering delivered Arc Flash Awareness Training around the theme of ‘Working Safely with Electricity’, and Olive Safety gave a practical demonstration on mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs), as part of ‘Working Safely at Height’. For ‘Vehicle Risk and Safety in Lifting Operations’, Collen invited Steer Clear, Prolift and Select Plant Hire to various sites, covering topics that included safe driving awareness, safe use of lifting equipment/maintenance, and safety in lifting operations. Lastly, Tony Farrell from CIT spoke at one of Collen’s pharmaceutical projects on chemical awareness and chemical/environmental spills.

Pull Together as an Industry

According to Tommy Drumm, Managing Director, Collen Construction, “The thing about working with the CIF and the MBCA is that we pull together as an industry.

Despite the fact we are all in competition in the market place, when it comes to issues like safety, wellbeing and making a difference, there is a genuine effort to pull together and share our experiences to the benefit of the industry.”

NISO Safety Awards Success

Collen Construction was delighted to win two prestigious awards at the recent Annual National Irish Safety Organisation (NISO) Safety Awards, including the ‘Construction Industrial/Commercial’ award and the prestigious ‘Superior Performance’ award, which recognises Collen as providing a superior working environment for all. Good health and safety comes from working with people not systems. These awards only come from the commitment and mindset of the whole Collen team and supply chain.

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