'Safety is in our own hands'

7 April 2016 - To work for BAM! / Organization / International

BAM International’s new Corporate Safety Manager, Fergal Kelly. 

He has a degree in health and safety and 15 years of experience: meet Fergal Kelly, our new Corporate Safety Manager. 

How would you rate the state of safety within BAM International? 

The standard of safety is quite good, but of course there is always room for improvement. It is critical we maintain the same high standards wherever we operate. Generally, the legal requirements are less stringent when working in areas such as Africa, Asia, Middle East etcetera, so it is testament to BAM that the standard is primarily driven internally rather than from external sources.

Some of the higher-risk activities involve working at height, lifting operations and scaffolding. I am pleased to say that area managers and the Board never have any issues in bringing external companies and individuals to help improve the standard, for instance when we bring in lifting coordination and scaffold trainers from Europe. I’m glad to see that the management commitment is very much visible and the required resources are always made available. BAM takes the initiative to improve, even when the clients and regulatory bodies aren’t asking.

Will you be doing things differently?

Well, I am the new guy… Seriously, though, to a large extent we can carry on as we were. But I’d like to make very, very sure that each of us understands safety is in their hands. It’s not just the responsibility of the  safety teams. There will be a focus on accountabilities at all levels of the organisation.

Also I would like to make sure that all the information we have is easily accessible and applicable for our activities. We plan on introducing project-specific HSE Sharepoint pages in the second half of 2016. This will improve communication at all levels including sharing information, innovative practices and so on.

What can we expect to happen in your first year?

For the first two quarters I will be mainly getting a feel for the projects and areas. The main focus will be implementing a clear structure within the HSE Department and providing support where needed. We will be putting the emphasis on training and development of our supervisors and staff, not just the HSE teams. This will improve awareness which in turn leads to accountability.

Additionally, I plan on arranging a teambuilding exercise with all safety managers to attend. This will be very beneficial, as we will all get to know each other and share information. In Q3 and Q4 I will begin benchmarking our performance, at an area and project level.

In a company that aims to decentralise, you are the first corporate-level manager who doesn’t work from the Dutch head office. How will that work?

I think it will make the work easier. Compared to The Hague, Dubai is more centrally located between the areas. In fact, I’m just one flight away from all area offices – soon there will even be a direct flight from here to South America. Besides, IT is making it very easy these days to stay in touch, with e-mail, the intranet site and video conferencing. 

Fergal Kelly