Site tour of Durkan’s Elephant & Castle development project

Back to basics - the solution for high performance health and safety at Durkan

Irwin & Colton recently had the opportunity for a site tour of Durkan’s Elephant & Castle development project. Durkan have over 45 years of experience and are a leading construction and development company across London and the Home Counties, turning over £140 million pounds.Durkan are principal contractor on the site which is developing 262 units across 4 buildings, straddling a major Network Rail artery into and out of London. 

Delivering health and safety performance is difficult enough in the UK’s high-pressure construction environment. However, with a £130,000 per minute fine if for any reason all 4 train lines needed to be closed, this is a high stakes project.

Durkan’s solution to driving a positive health and safety culture in this environment is to keep it as simple as possible. Cutting down paperwork to a clear and concise 15 point, easily digestible plan for method statements. The litmus test is that anyone on site can easily pick it up and understand it.

All too often we hear of the bureaucracy burden of health and safety unnecessarily growing the further down the construction subcontractor chain it goes. It is refreshing to hear a leading principal contractor actively working to trim this back.

The other seemingly simple method Durkan are taking to drive a positive safety culture is through asking everyone onsite to simply stop and think about their actions. As Durkan’s Health and Safety Manager stated, “All too often if an incident does happen, the first thing said is - I just wasn’t thinking”. Again, a very simple idea but few could argue with the logic, delivery on the ground, or results.

This approach of simplicity to drive performance certainly does not mean Durkan do not create and drive new ideas, far from the case. A fitting example was an innovative solution to an old problem - how to engage. The solution? A ‘Wheel of Fortune’ style safety game: The Durkan HSE&Q spinner. Once spun contractors have three minutes to prepare a three minute presentation on the topic they land on. Guess what, this wheel will also get everybody stopping and thinking and communicating ideas and improving safety without amassing paperwork!

Thank you again to the team at Durkan for the visit. Excellent opportunity to see positive health and safety in action.

James Irwin is a Director at Irwin & Colton a specialist health, safety and environment recruitment company. Contact or 01923 432 632 or visit

Posted on Monday Feb 12