‘I am extremely humbled, honoured and proud of my achievement’: In conversation with Tina McGennity, SHP’s Biggest Impact Winner
At Safety & Health Expo in June, Tina McGennity was named as the winner of SHP’s Biggest Impact award for 2018. Having given her a few weeks to let the accolade sink in, SHP caught up with Tina to ask her about the achievement and to find out what made her the stand-out choice for the judging panel.
Tina collecting her Biggest Impact award from Luton Airport’s Simon Bown.
SHP’s Biggest Impact category is open to anyone that is based in the UK and has recently moved to the health and safety profession from another role. Tina McGennity is Projects Division HSE Manager at JCA Engineering, moving to the department from elsewhere in the company last year.
Firstly, huge congratulations on winning the SHP Biggest Impact award for 2018. How did it feel when your name was called out?
Tina McGennity (TM): “Being announced as the winner of the SHP Biggest Impact Award 2018 came as a complete shock! I was fully aware of the professional standing of the other nominees and admit to allowing myself an element of self-doubt, considering who else was in contention for the award.
“When the announcement was made I was initially stunned and had an out of body moment while my mind was trying to comprehend the fact that it was I who was announced. Once I regained my composure, I felt extremely humbled, honoured and proud of my achievement.”
Please tell us a little about your role at JCA Engineering, what you are responsible for and some of the issues you have to confront on a day-to-day basis.
(TM): “I am employed as the Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) Manager for the Projects Division of JCA Engineering, a mid-sized enterprise that specialises in the design, construction and managed maintenance services of data centres. I am responsible for developing and implementing the policies, practices and procedures for all tasks and operations undertaken within the division as well as developing and implementing a health and safety systems.
“Projects Division is rapidly developing into a major tier 1 construction provider of highly innovative and advanced Data Centres. The risks associated with rapid development and tier 1 construction are obvious and I have complete autonomy in controlling and mitigating these, in-line with JCA Engineering’s Safe System of Works.”
Have long have you been involved in health & safety and how did you get into it?
(TM): “I was appointed as the Health and Safety Manager for Projects Division in Nov 2017, when JCA Engineering went through a restructure process. I had previously been employed within the Maintenance Services Division as an account Manager. Part of this role involved conducting site-based audits, concentrating on compliance to statutory regulations and health and safety.
“On taking up the new role as Health and Safety Manager, I raised concerns that I required formal training and accreditation to best fulfil my role and the company funded my attendance on to the NEBOSH Construction Certificate course, which I successfully passed with distinction.
“Following the appointment of a Corporate HSE Manager, who oversees the development of health and safety across all aspects of JCA Engineering, I have recently enrolled on to the City and Guilds NVQ Level 5 Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health, with my aim being to obtain Graduate membership of IOSH in 2019.”
The judges were impressed with impact you have made since taking on your current role. You have overseen a complete overhaul of the safety managements system and boosted the health & safety culture at the company. How have you achieved that success?
(TM): “I have been instrumental in developing a business wide monitoring schedule that encourages all levels of the business to take their part in the safety of all and developing the safe system of works. I achieved this by visiting all my sites offering full support and guidance. I provide bespoke training to support the individual site requirements and deliver a core training package to all the workforce.
“The Monitoring Schedule is unique within JCA Engineering and is something that we are very proud of. The schedule involves engagement of site engineers all the way to the company Chairman in recorded and actionable site inspections. I faced challenges from senior members of the business initially, but through careful mentoring and enthusiasm, I have managed to gain their support for the schedule which is demonstrating a great improvement in safety and also, a real and measurable improvement in health and safety good practice and culture.”
What were you biggest challenges you faced during the process?
(TM): “The biggest challenge I faced was the change in mindset that was required at all levels of the business. It was imperative that this change to culture was inspired and led from the very senior positions with in JCA Engineering. I spent a lot of time discussing the benefits of the proposed changes as well as listening to the concerns and issues of those that the changes would ultimately affect. Through continual polite insistence, a certain amount of applied pressure and education the members of the business responsible for influencing change were agreed and the program was accepted.”
Your achievements saw you named ‘Employee of the Year’ at JCA. Do you agree that the award reflects how your profession is seen within the company and that it shows there is no stigma around health & safety at JCA? How does this affect your ability to carry out your job?
Tina collecting her Employee of the Year award.
(TM): “JCA Engineering has an absolutely amazing approach to the safety and health of its employees, supply chain and clients. Its culture is progressive and open and the business invests heavily into its development of its safe systems of work.
“To be awarded ‘Employee of the Year’ was a great achievement and was representative of the interaction and trust the health and safety team members have with the wider JCA Engineering workforce. The company recognises individual achievements and shares its successes with all its employees. The health and safety department has also won ‘Team of the Quarter’ in 2017 for its continual support of operations across the company.”
It was remarked by your nominator that your passion for the role makes employees feel safer. How important is it that you are able to portray that passion and enthusiasm in order to properly get your messages across?
(TM): “Safety has to be at the forefront of JCA Engineering’s operations at all times. The delivery methods and professionalism is key to success and it is pivotal for me to lead by example and always be open and honest in my approach to health and safety. If the workforce believes in you, the business and, most importantly, its safe systems of work, they will naturally feel more at ease to question safety issues and produce a safer working environment for all.”
The judges also highlighted how you are using you role to influence, particularly younger people, both internally and externally. Please tell us a little about some of the work you are doing beyond your normal day job.
(TM): “I take an active interest in supporting JCA Engineering’s commitment to local projects within Stevenage that support children and the vulnerable. I actively participate in days outside of work time when these projects are visited and play a part in our continual commitment to improving people’s lives.
“I support the work experience programmes within the organisation, taking students or young persons to site and give them a flavour for a day on a working site. Pointing out risk and hazard and increasing their situational awareness that they can transpose into everyday life such as crossing a busy road.”
What are your hopes and aims within your role for the remainder of the year?
(TM): “As stated earlier, I am working towards my NVQ Level 5 in Occupational Health and Safety and aim to achieve my Graduate membership of IOSH in 2019. I will continue to develop and improve our safe systems of work in-line with new legislation and good practices and ensure communication is continually improved across the entire business both upwards and downwards. I will always allow myself time to engage with workers who have concerns about safety or want to offer ideas for change that will benefit all within the company.
“My main aim is to remain influential in the development and improvement of health and safety culture and strive for a zero-accident environment. It’s also important that I continue to listen to what the workers need to improve safety culture in their daily working environment.”
Congratulations once again Tina.