Men at Work
Congratulations to the Team at Men at Work for taking out the Safety Leadership Award at the 2015 Site Safe Health and Safety in Construction Awards.
With its purpose being of “Leading people in safety”, Men at Work is an organisation dedicated to Health and Safety in the Civil industry. Their business is centered around keeping people safe on the road through providing temporary Traffic Management Solutions, and this was largely driven through the release of the of Traffic Management Code of Practice (3rd Ed) in 2004.
Established in 2006, this business took on substantial growth welcoming their first 10 employees in 2010. With the new responsibility of a team on board, there was a need and responsibility to expand the focus of health and safety internally within the business.
The team today has grown to 46 strong including 37 qualified Traffic Management staff on the road and 10 management staff, and a fleet of over 30 traffic management vehicles.
We spoke to Company Director, Esther Hyde about how the journey of “leading people in safety” has brought them to their recent success at the Construction Health and Safety Awards.
With the unfortunate event of the Earthquakes in 2010, Christchurch’s need for traffic management sky rocketed. This meant Men at Work needed to take on employees to cope with the demand of a city in crisis. With the employment of a new team, came the need to focus on a more holistic health and safety strategy which included the internal business.
What did they do?
Men at Work looked to the market for ideas and inspiration, and sought external input into how they could put effective health and safety systems and processes in place. They were introduced to the ACC Workplace Safety Discount programme and began to work their way through to ensure all areas were covered off. “It became a passion of mine to get as much as what [ACC] suggested done as possible” (Esther Hyde, Company Director).
Building a Health and Safety structure internally involved a review across all facets of the business. Training was a big focus, with 80% of training being health and safety related. Topics ranged from healthy hydration on the road and the importance of sun protection, to driving courses and 10 fully trained Site Traffic Management Supervisors (currently the highest level qualification in traffic management). High quality Personal Protective Equipment was provided, monthly meetings were held to discuss issues such as fatigue and balancing long hours with rest, and monthly employee incentive programmes were put in place to recognise strong health and safety practice on site. Even expert financial advisers were brought in to help alleviate any financial stress employees may be dealing with personally. This has resulted in four or five employees in their mid 20’s buying their first home in the last four years.
Over time from 2011 through to 2014, the dedication, commitment and focus driven from the top embedded into the culture of the team, changing people’s habits and ways of thinking to a proactive health and safety focus.
The real breakthrough has been in the conversations. “We’ve had really good staff engagement”. A new health and safety committee was set up a few years ago and as soon as the first meeting was underway, people were putting their hand up to be on the committee – this is when Esther realised the staff shared her enthusiasm for health and safety. Esther would encourage these employees to stand up at meetings and share their ideas directly. This approach showed that these ideas weren’t just coming from management, and would improve buy in. Esther described this as “the winning formula to embedding a companywide culture of health and safety”. From a management perspective it’s not just about leading by example, but also encouraging people to talk to each other and hold each other accountable.
The recruitment process was also a driver in achieving a strong culture of health and safety. Only potential employees who shared Health and Safety as a priority were brought into the organisation. In Esther’s words, “We will try and gauge how people naturally think about health and safety and pick people who hold this as a higher priority”. Following on from this, new employees would see health and safety reinforced in inductions and training programmes. Health and safety was always top of the agenda at meetings and a hot topic in everyday office conversations.
Because Men at Work choose employees who hold Health and Safety as a priority from the start, the culture is one of trust in all things health and safety. This trust from management to employees, has had a positive flow on effect to clients. “We are getting a lot of big companies that trust us, come on board. It is due to our good reputation around Christchurch as being the best traffic management company out there. Men at Work is a trusted partner who puts health and safety first.”
The company culture is strong in health and safety. Employees are engaged and coming up with new ideas and initiatives. Esther said “this has been a gradual process since 2010 but it really has come together in 2014. I’m proud – we’ve done this”.
The big success is a healthy business, with healthy employees, with very few injuries on site.
Outcomes and benefits
As a company Men at Work have really become strong leaders for health and safety in the industry. “It’s always been an important part of our business, and now we are really advocating for this inside and out”.
Men at Work is committed to continuous improvement in health and safety. “One of the great things in Christchurch is a lot of businesses are happy to share health and safety initiatives they have. It’s not something they keep hidden as a competitive advantage”. Men at Work are constantly researching new approaches to health and safety in order to achieve their company mission “To be the most trusted organisation providing leadership in people safety.” We reckon with their latest success at the 2015 Construction Health and Safety Awards in wining the Safety Leadership Award, they’re well on track in achieving this.
For more information on our awards visit our Health and Safety Awards page.