Construction firms join forces to improve safety across industry

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THE seven largest construction firms in the Island have signed up to a charter committing to improved ‘industry-wide’ safety for all workers on their building sites.

A key pledge they have made is to ensure that ‘safety is everyone’s responsibility’ with all of the firms enrolling staff in the behavioural safety leadership programme run by the Jersey Safety Council, which believes around a million dangerous activities take place on Jersey’s building sites annually.

The scheme trains all staff to proactively identify hazards and make them confident enough to raise concerns with colleagues, rather than relying on foremen or supervisors to do so.

All firms will need to put their staff through the training before the end of the year, if they are to work on sites run by Camerons, Mitchell builders, Hacquoil and Cook, Legendre, Rok Construction, Style Group and Dandara, who have all joined the charter.

Harvey Mitchell, of Mitchell Builders, said that the aim was to create an ‘expectation’ of a safer culture throughout the construction industry.

‘If you go back 20 years things like PPE and hard hats didn’t come naturally.

‘With this, working safely and looking out for each other will be engendered and built down through the supply chain,’ he said.

Martin Smith, of Dandara, said that a key aim was to develop the confidence of site workers to call out dangerous behaviour or hazards.

He added: ‘What we’re trying to get through is to empower guys on site to be able to stop activities when they think it’s unsafe.

‘They need to have a voice and certainly be able to stop activities if they’re not safe and get them assessed. It’s about listening to the guys.’

Bob Matthews, of Rok, said that it had taken three years of work to develop the programme.

‘The buy-in from the top seven construction firms is great. It starts really with the largest businesses buying into the charter.

‘Safety is not just a regulation, it’s there for everybody. Everybody needs to go home at the end of the day and everyone needs to be safe on site,’ he said.

Mark Burton, of Camerons, said that it was the job of the large construction firms to ‘lead by example’ in improving building site safety.

‘One thing that we’ve all got in common is the same attitude towards health and safety. That’s a number-one priority,’ he said. ‘We all predominantly employ the same supply chain. There’s no point reinventing the wheel, so it’s about setting the standards between us.

‘If we are doing it first, putting our staff through training first and leading by example, more people will come on to the scheme.’

The Jersey Safety Council will be running further Behavioural Safety Leadership courses in May and June and then from September onwards until the end of the year.

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