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Safety Seminars For Leaders

14 March 2011

Costain is rolling out a series of Safety, Health and Environment (SHE) seminars for top management.

Sector directors and senior managers will attend the seminars, the first of which has just taken place.

In moving safety up the agenda this year there is a particular focus on leadership within the Group “and the best way to demonstrate leadership is for people to be seen as role models and leading the way”, explains Group SHE Director, Peter Fisher.

External SHE consultant, Lawrence Webb, and Fisher outlined the SHE responsibilities of senior management, using Institute of Directors’ guidelines as their benchmark.

“There is a legal requirement [for senior managers] to understand their Health and Safety responsibilities, but this course goes further than this. Legal compliance is a minimum,” explains Fisher. “We go into the other areas we would expect the leaders of an industry-leading company like Costain to promote.”

While changes to SHE-related legislation were explained, Fisher and Webb also spoke about the expectations on senior managers. They not only have to set high standards themselves but ensure that their staff also lead in the way expected of them, says Fisher.

Watching out for SHE-related topics will be a key part of senior managers’ roles when they make site visits,” he adds. “They’ll look to see that the sites have the right resources for SHE and if they are delivering things that the business would expect.

“Our accident rate dropped again slightly last year but we’re quite keen to move it forward further and, to achieve that, senior managers will have to be out in front, driving the process.

“The good news is that they are stepping up to the plate when it comes to these seminars quite willingly…we’re not having to twist their arms.”

One attendee at the first seminar, Group PFI Director, Alistair Handford, was enthusiastic about the experience: “I found it very useful. It is always good to get a bunch of senior managers from around the whole business to sit down on the subject of SHE.

“We have to challenge ourselves to keep up to speed personally and also whether we’re doing all the right things in leading SHE and getting the message across.”

Another of the first group, Project Director, Rail, Lee Davies, adds: “We concentrated on things that, moving forward, are particularly important to the business, such as behavioural safety and occupational health.

“It’s quite surprising how the whole credibility and confidence and support our business gets is really predicated on the fact that our performance in safety and environmental terms is met and delivered on the projects. That credibility and confidence is easily lost and it’s a performance we really trade on as a company.”

Around nine more of the seminars will be held this year and the intention is to make them a regular occurrence every couple of years.