Turning the tide on health and safety
Infrastructure company Tideway is aiming to turn the tide of health and safety by ingraining its importance in new staff from day one.
Speaking at the Safety and Health Expo, Steve Crofts, Head of Health, Safety and Wellbeing at Tideway, said the firm is using a four-stage induction process on their sites in London to ensure “everything is done the right way.”
Tideway is building a 16-mile “super sewer” tunnel, which will run under the River Thames through central London.
Because of the nature of the project, there are different construction sites along the tunnel route, but Crofts said all new workers must undergo a comprehensive induction process before starting work.
“From day one, we want people to know Tideway is different and we want workers to behave differently,” Crofts told delegates at the Expo.
The first stage of the induction process includes DNA tests, health screening and a communications assessment to ensure everyone working on site has some basic level of English.
New workers than have to spend a day at Tideway’s EPIC induction centre in Vauxhall, which uses actors to create a safety incident.
“They can see the immediate fallout and the fallout in 10 or 20 years’ time,” explained Crofts. “It’s designed to be quite an emotional experience, to make people question their own behaviour and have the confidence to question other people’s behaviour. It is a fantastic day and within the first half hour they are completely engaged.”
Tideway is building a “super sewer” tunnel, which will run under the River Thames through central London. (Photo: Tideway)
All of Tideway’s individual contractors are also obliged to have their own induction processes, which are specific to each individual site.
And the final part of the induction process is a boat ride along the Thames for all new staff, showing them all the individual sites.
“But we want to keep things going,” added Crofts. “There’s no point blowing people away in the first few days and then they turn up on site, no one cares and their focus goes off health and safety. So every quarter we do an event called Rightway Live and the contractors can come up with their own themes.”
Crofts added that each site is required to have good facilities: “We want to make sure that when you turn up on site, you will continue to be impressed and you will continue to feel this project is different. We want to make sure the workforce is kept happy, healthy and well.
“On our specifications all our contractors provide excellent canteen, shower and changing facilities. We assess all of these before letting a site go live. We have actually stopped one site going live, because we did not feel they had put enough effort and we were concerned it would break the goodwill built up over the first couple of days.”
Crofts added that Tideway is a patron of the mental health charity Mates in Mind and requires all its contractors to also be involved.
He said all construction workers are doing a 45-minute “start the conversation” session through the charity. Supervisors are also given a three-and-a half-hour Mates in Mind training session and they are also in the process of training a tenth of Tideway workers as mental health first aiders, so they can spot the some of the signs of poor mental health and guide colleagues in the right direction.
He added Tideway is also trying to give health “equal parity to safety”.
“We have retained an occupational hygiene provider across the whole programme, who works with all our contractors and has been involved from the design phase. They have had the opportunity to influence design, so the health risk has been eliminated before it has even come to fruition. It’s better to stop the risk before it becomes a problem.”
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