Challenges and Milestones
05 May 2017
Site Safe Chief Executive Alison Molloy talks milestones and challenges for Safeguard magazine's sector review.
Q: What progress in health and safety has been made in the construction sector over the last year?
A: In terms of lifting awareness, there has definitely been a lot of progress. The introduction of the new legislation has sparked a lot of what is, in my view, largely unwarranted anxiety amongst many in the industry. What is gradually changing is the complacency and that old “she’ll be right” attitude. Overall, we are seeing some really positive progress, with industry renewing its commitment to health and safety. An increasing number of construction leaders are coming together to work out how they can standardise health and safety policies across sites, and make things easier for subcontractors. We are also seeing a trend towards more prequalification, and companies making their approach to health and safety more visible. The role of technology is also growing, with some real opportunities for improving site management, productivity, and health and safety emerging.
Q: What is the key health and safety challenge facing the sector over the next year?
A: While WorkSafe is still establishing the right level of prosecution, there is undoubtedly an element of uncertainty within the industry, particularly for the smaller companies. WorkSafe has done a good job of educating people about the new legislation, but there will always be some companies who put their head in the sand and others who overreact. That uncertainty has made some people vulnerable to the plethora of consultants which have sprung up, many of whom are not always very knowledgeable. There are also questions around how you measure competency and if testing alone, rather than training, should be enough to prove someone is competent.
For many in the sector, the key challenge over the next year will be figuring out the right balance between operational demands and compliance. It’s all about finding an equilibrium, and making sure that health and safety is embedded into everyday practices in a way that improves productivity. And with the new focus on overlapping duties and the need to co-operate, co-ordinate and consult, it’s very clear safety is now a shared responsibility. A big part of that ongoing challenge will be around improving communication between everyone on-site. Site Safe will be working with small to medium-sized businesses, as well as the bigger players, to help the growing number of leaders who are stepping up to tackle these challenges. We believe that this year we’ll see a real willingness from everyone to work together to find practical, collective solutions.