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December 1, 2022

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SHP Awards 2022

Winner announced for the SHP Trailblazer Workplace Wellbeing Award

The SHP Awards judging panel has selected a winner, highly commended and finalists from this year’s Trailblazer in Workplace Wellbeing shortlist.

Launched by SHP in 2020, the Trailblazers are health & safety professionals who are going above and beyond to make a positive difference – in some cases within their own organisation, in other cases more widely in the community.

Trailblazer awards are brought to you as part of the wider SHP Awards, which, for 2022, is once again in collaboration with Shirley Parsons, global HSEQ talent experts.

The Trailblazer in Workplace Wellbeing Award recognises individuals who did the most to contribute to people thriving at work, prioritising employees’ wellbeing and mental health.

The winner is:

Fiona O’Donnell, Global HSE Strategy Lead at Jacobs

On October 10 2022, World Mental Health Day, Fiona O’Donnell orchestrated and influenced thousands of people in a global day of action for positive mental health in an attempt to help end the stigma forever. Fiona’s commitment has created a worldwide ripple that caused a sea change in how mental health is approached in society.

Fiona O’Donnell, Group HSE Strategy Lead at Jacobs

One Million Lives campaign

One Million Lives is a free mental health check-in tool by Jacobs to enhance users’ understanding of their current state of mind and provide proactive strategies for personal mental health development. The main reason for this development was that Fiona recognised that people at Jacobs needed more support and wanted to be proactive around wellbeing and mental health.

Fiona’s belief in the power of this campaign saw her reach out to external partners such as Nike and Mercedes Petronas, where she invited them to partner with Jacobs on the campaign.
She has also been influencing at executive leadership level, namely where she convinced Jacobs’ Chief Operating Officer to reach out to our competitors’ CEOs to ask them to be part of the ripple and participate in the campaign.
Nearly 10,000 people dialled into the three calls on World Mental Health Day, where Fiona and others shared their stories and vulnerabilities.
Fiona has achieved her goal on the campaign by delivering the World’s Biggest Mental Check-in, with over 20,000 check-ins. This campaign though was never about the number of check-ins for Fiona but about all the conversations generated. It was about people who initiated conversations about their mental health that had never spoken about it before. Clients and competitors of Jacobs also shared their own personal stories, making the campaign material their own.
Fiona fosters creative and brilliant initiatives to promote workplace wellbeing, not only in Jacobs, but throughout the wider industry.
What started with a ripple has turned into a wave of engagement and participation which goes far beyond a typical corporate incentive. Fiona truly cares about individual wellbeing and has touched so many lives with her enthusiasm and persistence. She has implemented and championed the mental health resiliency programme in Jacobs and has frequently shared our successes and lessons learned with the industry.

The mental health resilience series calls have covered a wide range of topics relating to mental health like fatigue, anxiety, depression, suicide prevention, imposter syndrome and the benefits of laughing. Fiona has been very clear on how the calls should be run; balancing clinical expert input with input from people at Jacobs.

Pandemic response 
Fiona was at the forefront of Jacobs’ global response to COVID. She was instrumental in the development of the ergonomic and wellbeing response for the company. Taking into account regional and cultural differences and requirements, Fiona was central to a positive and productive workforce throughout the pandemic. She sourced good quality masks in a tough and turbulent time globally for all Jacobs’ offices. She ensured that all global offices had fit for purpose health management plans for COVID control, and return to work. Since then, she has been instrumental in the return to work and hybrid working policies always putting the health and wellbeing of Jacobs’ people at the forefront.

Safety and wellbeing 

Fiona has also worked with the Irish police force An Garda Síochána and the HSA in Ireland to promote work related road risk. She is heavily invested in the mentoring of HSE younger females within the organisation and externally through the One Wish organisation promoting females in HSE.
She works cross-collaboratively with Jacobs’ internal HR and external Occupational Health provider to develop and implement a value-add process for HSE / Occupational Health crossover within the company’s global operations.

The topic of human capital is something Fiona has a particular passion for. She is currently working with industry leaders the Capitals Coalition, United Utilities, Yorkshire Water, and Thames Water to name a few to really explore how human capital and value accounting can make an impact on safety and workplace wellbeing. Rather than calculating the costs of safety once an incident has occurred, she is starting to build up a picture of the value of safety and wellbeing to a business.

Through her work on de5ign (pronounced ‘five in design’) Jacobs’ Framework for Health Safety and the Environment (HSE) in Design, Fiona has challenged how infrastructure projects can be designed to benefit both people and the environment. By focusing on the positive impact that designer behaviour has on the whole life cycle of infrastructural assets, Fiona’s work will have long-term benefits on not only the safety aspects of the asset but also on the mental health and physical wellbeing of construction workers and end users, in addition to the designs which will benefit the environment, climate and sustainability.
Fiona led a wide discussion, through an engaging Mural board, created to encourage anonymous stories and experiences to be shared with the business. A series of breakout rooms on the three themes were facilitated, to give an opportunity to share and discuss ideas with the group. The rooms also provided a chance to learn more about a new or unfamiliar topic area.  This topic has also been used as an additional lens that professionals, designers and individuals can use in our work and life to promote positive change.

Outside of work, Fiona has taken on the role of Girls’ Football representative for Leixlip United AFC in Co. Kildare, where she takes great pride in advocating on behalf of the girls of the club. One of her recent achievements was the facilitation of the club’s first Girls Soccer Camp, where feedback from participants and parents alike was very positive. This is another fantastic example of Fiona staying ahead of the curve and influencing a culture of inclusivity, wellbeing and belonging both inside and outside the workplace.
Fiona is also very involved in local charities. In June 2020, Penny O’Brien, a healthy, active and funny six-year-old girl was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma, a very rare form of bone cancer. Inspired by Penny’s battle, Fiona organised a charity event in Ireland on 17th March 2022 where herself and a couple of hundred women got their kits off and bravely jumped into the Irish sea for a Dip in the Nip. She aimed to raise 150,000 euros for the children’s cancer fund in Ireland, but smashed this target by raising 220,528.49 euros for Our Lady’s Hospital, Crumlin, and also the building of the Daisy Lodge, Mayo, the first Cancer Support Centre for children in Ireland.

Leading the way

Commenting on the winner, Shirley Parsons at global HSEQ talent Experts, Shirley Parsons commended Fiona by saying: “The winners of this year’s Trailblazer Awards all highlight the importance in stepping outside the usual ‘OHS’ box – keeping up with the issues of today and turning these into opportunities to keep people safer and healthier. Fiona O’Donnell’s dedication to the promotion of mental health and wellbeing at Jacobs is something we as OHS professionals should all aspire to. A very well done to Steven Boon as Highly Commended, the finalists and all other nominees – your stories are inspirational and make me so proud to be part of this wonderful profession.”

Highly Commended:

Steven Boon, Managing Director at EPD Insulation Group

Steven Boon, Managing Director at EPD Insulation Group

EPD Insulation Group is a main supplier of insulation in East Anglia, and many of Steve’s employees are on construction sites delivering their products. The workforce is 80% male due to it being mainly a construction type of work, and with predominantly male LGV drivers delivering the selected items to many locations in the Eastern and Southern regions including Central London.

Three years ago, Steve noticed the need for mental health support, and although he trained selected staff in mental health first aid, he felt it wasn’t enough, and decided to offer free mental health support to his employees through a qualified outside practitioner to aid anyone who may be able to benefit from it.

The practitioner is available to meet with every employee both male and female to find out anonymously how they feel about their employment, and how they feel about themselves. The first meeting had a 98% up take and is aimed at how the company is doing with the welfare of its staff. If any individual feels they require a second, third, or fourth meeting, this is then aimed at the individuals needs and not the company on a one to one.

He has put forward an innovative program that will produce better mental health support and understanding in the workplace. Any follow up support requested through the employee via the practitioner will be provided for the individual. This has been paid for by the company, and time given off from work to attend.

The results when complete as a percentage will be shared with the employees overall, and the model used – as its already being seen as successful – will be shared with any company on request, on how EPD LTD managed to achieve all 130 employees going through this innovative program.

Steve has recognised that a happy, healthy workforce does have a positive long-term impact on his business, including a positive work life balance for all, seeing that all driver working under pressures may suffer stress, but understands they are a lone worker. His fear was that this could lead to the over thinking of personal problems whilst driving, lack of awareness on the roads, and loss of concentration that may impact on others safety both on the road, or on site.

He has placed every manager on an IOSH managing safely course, to actively encourage a better understanding of what hazards and risks are within the workplace, giving clear instructions to them to understand the working H&S model of plan, do, check, and act when required.
He asked his operations manager this year to develop and further improve the contractors pack to support safety for contractors when on site, to which has been completed. This also includes allowing key personnel to complete H&S management of contractors with courses in this area to enhance a more competent workforce to keep contractors safe, and for key staff to actively undergo this process for a safer control system for all on site.

A new approach to safety has been developed for staff, and Steve has invested in the employees training with in-house FLT, Moffett training and a new training manager, room, and location to provide a safer workforce. This includes a two-week induction training programme for new drivers even if qualified and re-evaluates all drivers yearly with an assessment of practical skills which is much above the normal standard, and re-assess any driver who has damaged any part of the vehicle, or accident no matter how small.

EPD through Steve Boon, and on a regular basis supports young children financially to participate in sport, and the wider community by sponsoring local events within the Town such as the ‘big bash’ held for local community to support a coming together of people after COVID. This was held at the local Leisure Centre sports fields with events, stalls, and live music to encourage the community to participate in various fun events and activities for all ages.


Mike Turner, Head of Safety and Wellbeing at Cardiff University

Mike Turner, Head of Safety and Wellbeing at Cardiff University

Mike was the driving force behind the creation of a safety management system at Cardiff University that conforms to the requirements of both ISO 45001 and ISO 45003 – recognising the equal importance, and interdependence, of psychological and physical health and safety in the workplace.

Thanks to Mike’s foresight and drive, Cardiff University is the first higher education institution (HEI) in the UK to achieve compliance with ISO 45003. In order to deliver this standard th university had to demonstrate that it combines senior-level, psychologically informed decision-making, which minimises potential adverse impact on the mental health of staff, with the development of a thriving wider culture of wellbeing, characterised by institutional support underpinning an emphasis on the individual’s responsibility for self-care.

Mike was the key figure in the development of this system and culture. It was his vision of holistic health and safety (incorporating the psychological as well as the physical) that led to this and other achievements in workplace wellbeing at the university. For example, as well as compliance with the requirements of ISO 45001 and 45003, Cardiff University is highly ranked against the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing – 4th amongst HEIs in the UK and 41st in the world – and was cited several times in a recent Public Health Wales report on employers who gave the best wellbeing support to their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of this success stems from Mike’s visionary groundwork.

Under Mike’s guidance the institution has demonstrated the importance of taking a holistic approach to health and safety management – with recent focus upon the relatively new discipline of psychological health and safety in the workplace. To do this the university has not only pioneered the implementation of ISO45003, but also its integration with ISO 45001. A model which will be of great benefit to the health and safety profession.

Mike was instrumental in the development of promoting better self-care amongst staff, helping to create an annual programme of wellbeing events, with weekly opportunities to embrace different aspects of wellbeing. For example, offering sessions on stress, resilience, positive psychology, the Five Ways to Wellbeing, building better habits, nutrition, green wellbeing, mental health first aid, and a mental health and wellbeing training programme ‘i-act’ that is accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Mike has helped to instil a preventative approach to health and safety management at Cardiff University. This has implications for other HEIs (as well as other organisations) – particularly in relation to management of mental health issues, which are the greatest cause of both long and short-term absence in the HE sector.

Jonathan Gawthrop, Executive Director WSA at EMCOR UK

Jonathan Gawthrop, Executive Director WSA at EMCOR UK

Jonathan is responsible for the development and application of the organisational strategy for wellbeing, safety, sustainability, social value and governance and has led the wellbeing agenda not only within EMCOR UK but across the wider profession.

Jonathan has been pivotal in the success of EMCOR UK being the first company globally to be awarded ISO 45003 on the day of release, vowing to support other businesses in their implementation of the standard.

Drawing parity between ISO 45001 and ISO 45003 has been at the heart of Jonathan’s wellbeing strategy focusing on the ‘Whole Person’ approach to health, safety & wellbeing. This has been discharged into the organisation through EMCOR UK’s Be There for Life Program preventing harm to colleagues both mentally and physically. Through the implementation of BTFL we have seen a 33% reduction in first aid injuries, increased engagement with employees by 4.6%, 1 in 5 managers have attended RESPOND training to identify early warning signs and as a business we have seen a decreasing trend of sickness days lost.

Jonathan’s passion for health and wellbeing both within and beyond EMCOR UK has made him the perfect role model across the community achieved through sharing knowledge through roundtables with BSI, webinars with experts including Amy Edmondson where Jonathan discussed psychological safety at work and how to effectively implement with operational teams.

Jonathan is a Fellow of IIRSM and the Society of Leadership Fellows and is a Committee Member for the British Standards Institute; National Committee for Occupational Health and Safety. Working under direction of the committee Jonathan is responsible for preparation, publication review and revision of generic British Standards or other products on occupational health and safety (OH&S) management systems (MS); The formulation of the UK position on technical aspects of International and/or European OH&S-MS standardization – drafts and New Work Item Proposals (NWIPs) for recommendations to Standards Development.

In addition to this role Jonathan also sits on the Board of Trustees for the Society for Occupational Medicine which acts as a national and international platform for raising awareness of the role of occupational health.

In order to benefit not just the facilities management sector but other organisations, Jonathan is an Independent Verifier for the Mayor of London Healthy Workplace Charter supporting the charter and the implementation within workplaces to make workplaces healthier and happier. As an independent verifier Jonathan is able to use his expertise to assess and advise organisations on the health and wellbeing of their employees across the Capital. Ensuring that employers have met the standards for London Healthy Workplace Charter accreditation, aiming to support businesses to do even better for their staff.

Most recently Jonathan is connected with the University of East Anglia working with Professor Kevin Daniels to produce a wellbeing toolkit which will be made available to all organisations regardless of size and not-for-profit. The toolkit is currently being tested within EMCOR UK for suitability alongside a review from the Society of Occupational Medicine.

All information, tools and knowledge is shared within the industry to enable growth and progression within the sector which Jonathan is keen to drive and support in order to benefit more people.

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Gerda Holmes
Gerda Holmes
1 year ago

How can i get hold of Fiona O’Donnell, i would like to explore what we can do more for our company with regards to Mental Health, we have a big drive on Mental health and i think she would be excellent in assisting me to achieve our goals