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Promoting a Culture of Safety in the Workplace

To mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work, intended to show how promoting and creating a safety and health culture can help reduce the number of work-related deaths and injuries, we spoke to Richard Brickwood, Regional Health Safety & Environmental Manager.

1. How did you get into health and safety?
I originally got into health and safety following a serious accident involving a work colleague who was hit by a reversing forklift truck, at the time I was working as a mobile plant trainer and realised that there was more to workplace health and safety than just training.

2. Can you tell me about your role and what a typical day looks like for you?
I have been with MSPS for 4 years and based on the Barleylands Hub, covering Basildon, South Essex Homes (Southend) and East End Homes (East London) each project has work streams on Repairs and Maintenance, Voids, Planned Works and on Basildon, Corporate Buildings and Gas.

A typical day could include a site inspection on one of our sites where guidance will be given following observations, a formal report to the project management will be issued with suggested time scales to close out any issues raised. I regularly carry out Builders Profile approvals, this is a pre-qualification audit procedure that our sub-contractors must successfully complete prior to working for Morgan Sindall Property Services.

I attend prestart meetings to new projects to provide support to our commercial and operations teams to fulfil our duties as the appointed Principal Contract and or Principal Designer at preconstruction and construction phases of the project.

3. What interests you most about health and safety?
The prospect of influencing individuals’ behaviour at work and working with new procedures, innovations and processes that reduce risk to the safety and health of our workers and others during our day to day business.

4. What do you enjoy most about your role?
The fact that every day is different, with different challenges and going home in the belief that I have done all I can to keep our people safe and healthy.

5. How do you ensure you are continually building on your health and safety knowledge?
I am a chartered member of IOSH, the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health. To maintain my membership I have to record on going CPD (Continuous Professional Development) this includes attending training courses, reading and understanding updated legislation, attending on line seminars, attending IOSH meetings, and where necessary trade group meetings, reading SHP (Safety & Health Practitioner) magazine articles relevant to my work.

6. What are the key priorities/focus for your team in 2021?
Currently our department are focussing on review and update of the businesses Integrated Management System (iMS) this is to further improve our compliance to ISO 9001, ISO14001 and ISO 45001 standards and making a better, user friendly system for our business to use on a daily basis.

We are also in the process of maximising the use of the businesses investment into the SHE Assure application, this is a powerful tool that we will be using for accident investigations, auditing, managing risk and contractor engagement.

7. How has Covid impacted your day to day job?
Over the last year Covid has impacted all of us in various ways. It is constantly on our minds whilst travelling to and from work, on site and at the office. It has become a significant risk that has to be controlled.

Ensuring that physical barriers are in place to protect us from infection, signage, one way systems, availability of sanitizers and wipes and generally following our safe systems of work and the MSPS 6 Covid Standards – these, we have had to review and update from time to time following the changing government guidelines.

Probably the most important and difficult thing is how its affected people’s behaviour – social distancing etc. The innovation of Microsoft Teams and other media forms has helped keep us all in contact with each other at work and at home, thankfully.

8. If you were PM for a day, which H&S law(s) would you introduce, or repeal?
I believe that the Health and Safety at Work Act and subsequent supporting regulations are all in place for very important and specific reasons, however we are in an ever changing world and is vital that the current and future governments listen and work closely with industry to keep people healthy and safe with a focus on what is reasonable and practicable.

9. What would be your top tips for someone about to start out in health and safety?
Keep an open mind, always be prepared to learn, never assume anything. Remember that whilst training qualifications and experience are necessary the ability to engage with people at every level and daily is of the utmost importance.