Further underlining its strong health and safety credentials, 2017 saw Ireland-based Mainline Group receive a Distinction and Consistent High Achiever award at the National Irish Safety Organisation (NISO) Safety Awards held in Galway in October. Construction Industry News recently caught up with John Connelly, SHEQ Manager for the company, to see how the success was achieved.
“We were delighted to receive the award recognition as it’s a reflection of the hard work everyone has put in across the entire company,” explains Mr Connelly. “Each of our divisions has an established SHEQ committee made up of management and workplace representation and throughout the year they meet to review the latest monitoring information. Using this data, we take actions to improve our SHEQ performance and receiving this High Achiever award really demonstrates the consistency that this approach has been able to instil within the business. It’s a great confidence booster for our staff because it shows that our methods are worthwhile, while it also provides our clients with an insight into our safety philosophy, highlighting the fact that we take the issue extremely seriously by constantly looking to improve in any way we can to keep pushing on to the next level.”
In terms of how the consistency has been maintained, a number of company-wide initiatives have played an integral role in keeping standards high. “We have a number of different schemes in place including an umbrella framework that spans the entire company under which we run a variety of initiatives to monitor our performance and to help raise awareness of certain issues,” adds Mr Connelly. “We’re also signatories to the IOSH No Time to Lose campaign, as it complements our own ‘Stay Safe @Work @Home’ campaign that aims to raise staff awareness and improve our safety culture throughout our activities at both work and at home. The purpose of our own campaign is to promote and encourage everyone to reduce the risk of accidents, incidents and ill health involving our workforce, family and members of the public.
“The work undertaken by IOSH to raise awareness of occupational cancer is fully supported by Mainline Group and we are fully committed to raise awareness of the causes of occupational cancer and prevention strategies. In addition, we have taken part in Construction Safety Week as we feel that it’s important that entire industry plays its part in promoting safe working practices. It’s an issue that we’re always working on improving and we strive to continually mix things up a bit to keep our approach fresh and to ensure that complacency doesn’t set in.
“It’s vital that all of our staff are actively encouraged to participate in the process and we run competitions with a range of prizes such as sports match tickets to generate interest. By having higher levels of involvement from our employees we’re able to improve at a much faster rate and identify any potential safety issues and rectify them.”
This refusal to rest on its laurels has been another major factor behind Mainline’s excellent health and safety record. Despite this success, however, the company is conscious that the process remains very much a journey rather than a destination. “We’ve made tremendous progress when it comes to involving our staff but there’s still more hard work to do at all levels of the business, from the management through to our site operatives. It’s vital that we’re all pulling in the same direction and this is something that we’ll be focusing even more strongly on in 2018.
“We recently carried out a safety climate survey for all of our staff for the very first time and we’ll be using its findings to help shape our wider strategy within the business. Having a better understanding of how our staff operate and gauging their thoughts on a number of safety issues will be hugely beneficial moving forward, particularly as they are often much better placed to see where improvements can be made and suggest solutions. If we can enlist their help in managing the potential risks, we’ll be in a much better position.”
“Each of our divisions has an established SHEQ committee made up of management and workplace representation and throughout the year they meet to review the latest monitoring information. Using this data, we take actions to improve our SHEQ performance and receiving this High Achiever award really demonstrates the consistency that this approach has been able to instil within the business.”
John Connelly, SHEQ Manager
This inclusive approach is supplemented by strong systems to improve safety practices and monitor its performance. “In addition to our monthly SHEQ committee meetings, we have a formal review that is conducted at board level and involves a detailed report of the previous month’s performance and which also highlights any future initiatives that we’ve got coming down the track. More generally, we have a number of accreditations such as OHSAS 18001, ISO14001 and ISO9001 that help to provide a framework to work within, whilst also providing clients with the peace of mind that we’re working to high standards, particularly as in the last few years we’ve come through those external expert audits with no observations or corrective actions. This has been further reinforced by award recognition such as the Consistent High Achiever award from NISO.”
Supported by a 50-strong workforce across its headquarters in Cork and additional offices in Dublin and Kerry, Mainline has developed into a leading service provider within the water, telecommunications and electricity sectors. Its business is centred on the build, replacement, repair and maintenance of utility network infrastructure, and incorporates three distinct areas of expertise, across each of the utility sectors:
- Infrastructure and Network Build (including all associated Civil Works);
- Field Support Services (In-home/business Installations and Maintenance);
- ICT & Data Capture (including Data Analytics).
As it develops further in these areas, Mainline is looking to build on an award-winning year by making the most of the opportunities that will be coming its way in 2018, especially with renewables. “We’re currently busy within the wind farm sector working on major schemes across Ireland and this will continue in the months ahead. We’re also working on a large non-domestic water meter programme as well as on going maintenance projects within our telecoms division on a national basis so we’ve got a good mixture of work in place across a broad range of contracts. Further opportunities within the solar and wireless business area are also being targeted.
“Looking ahead more generally to 2018, the main objective for the next 12 months is to continue at the level that we’ve reached with the support of our workforce and the supply chain that we’ve put together.”
One such supplier is Prolift Handling, which plays a key role in keeping Mainline’s lifting plant certification compliant on a nationwide basis, providing a one-stop solution to its lifting plant requirements. During 2017 we also continued with specialist support provided by another key supply chain partner Kerry Mechanical Engineering whom provide expertise in the maintenance and CE certification requirements for our bespoke heavy duty cable installation plant.
“We’re also committed to maintaining a strong health and safety approach and with this in mind we’ll be putting together another submission for a NISO award as we continue to move up the ladder and build further on the excellent work that we’ve already completed,” says Mr Connelly. “Again it’s all about continual improvement and further reduction of accidents and incidents. This will be driven by a number of new initiatives that we’ll be introducing in areas such as occupational health, while we’ll be constantly monitoring our performance so issues can be addressed and our targets reassessed.
“The ultimate goal is to have more clients approaching us directly with work opportunities because they see us as a safe pair of hands. We’re certainly well on the way to achieving this thanks to the systems we have in place, the involvement of our workforce, and the rate of progress we’re making as a result.”
With the proactive approach that Mainline has at the heart of its operation, this is very much an objective that the company is on course to obtain. It would be no surprise if it secures more award recognition along the way too.