Good article from Martin Worthington, SHEQ Director at Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure – outlining their approach to Safety and wellbeing, why it is important and what they are focused on this year –
Working on Britain’s busy road network has always been challenging and tends to come with added risks such as distracted drivers ploughing into roadworks, despite warning signs and barriers.
The construction industry faces a myriad of complex occupational health issues but is making steady progress. Fewer serious accidents and fatalities have been recorded in recent years and the ‘refuse to tolerate’ attitude required to push further improvements means the industry, as a whole, is constantly striving to manage projects and people with the highest regard for safety.
Morgan Sindall’s starting point is grounded in the belief that managing risk needs to be part of a wider and integrated business strategy to manage occupational health, safety and wellbeing at work. Otherwise there’s a risk of putting sticking plasters on the critical issues that we need to address.
We have a leadership team that is focused on occupational health, safety and employee wellbeing. Part of its role is to challenge our own thinking, stay attuned to what’s happening in the industry and look at ways to innovate. It’s about making sure safety is a primary consideration that runs through all our planning and delivery activities.
Staying safe is an ongoing process. Occupational health covers the risks arising from physical, chemical and other workplace hazards whilst wellbeing is centred around people’s psychological, physical and social welfare. Our SHEQ team comprises professionals from across all our business units and is supported by specialist occupational health providers Medigold.
Two of the key areas we have identified for attention are mental health and fatigue, which are closely linked, and which reflects thinking in the wider world of UK Plc. Employers and government organisations alike have increased their focus on mental health at work during the past decade. The ‘Thriving at Work’ report, commissioned by Prime Minister Theresa May and published in October 2017, emphasises the scale of mental health issues in the workplace.
In partnering with a range of mental health and wellbeing support providers, we have been able to strengthen our Occupational Health and Wellbeing arrangements and extend the provision available to our workforce, working towards our objective of building an inclusive approach to wellbeing throughout the company. We are working hard to break down any myths and barriers around mental health and wellbeing and are working with employees across the business to create a welcoming and supportive culture.
We are working hard to break down any myths and barriers around mental health
In addition to helplines and occupational health services, we also provide a number of training courses including managers’ awareness courses, coping with work pressures, mental health first aid, stress reduction, mindfulness sessions and how to have an effective wellbeing discussion. As we continue through 2018, we will be building on our existing collateral, producing a number of case studies, as well as rolling out engagement discussions, grab cards and we have established a business-wide wellbeing forum that is sponsored by our senior team.
We have over 400 people in the business trained to watch out for the signs of mental and emotional distress in colleagues – and to offer assistance if they have concerns. We partner with a number of charities and organisations which can provide specialist support, including the Lighthouse Club. We also have information posted in site facilities – contact details for The Samaritans, for example. This year will be the third year that we have participated in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index, having achieved the bronze ‘Achieving Change’ standard last year which has given us a valuable insight on where we need to put our efforts into improving further.
The company holds events to support the national Mental Health Awareness Week campaign – combining formal awareness training with informal group activities to recognise the campaign’s daily themes of ‘Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give. Morgan Sindall Construction and Infrastructure also participates in innovative trials to ensure our employees are 100% Safe – including Readibands which measure employee fatigue.
As a business, we recognise that the construction industry does have characteristics that increase the risk of mental health problems at work. The sector employs a high percentage of men and one factor is that the industry has not traditionally had a culture where talking about emotional problems happens naturally or easily.
We are equally clear that the nature of construction will always be challenging. There is a great deal to be considered for the future – including increased use of technology and the need to change our working practices and the skill sets that people will need to meet the changes. There are many positive dividends to be had from, say, putting drones and remote equipment into high-risk locations instead of people, and increased use of such technology will only help us improve safety even further.
But even with improved technology and working practices such as off-site manufacturing – if you are operating in a busy construction environment you will always need to be in a good state of physical and mental health. As a business, we will continue to work hard to make sure that’s the case by giving people the tools and techniques they need to ensure safety is a main stay of our success.
Hopefully with the focus on mental health so prevalent in large UK companies we will start to see a positive impact.
Full article in Safety Highways below –
Posted on Monday Oct 15