NSAI launch new Health and Safety Standard in conjunction with Collen Construction



The world’s first occupational health and safety international standard, ISO 45001, was published on 12th March 2018. ISO 45001 will give organisations an internationally recognised occupational health and safety standard to follow. This standard provides the specification for formal, systematic analysis and management of risk, management of regulatory compliance, promotion of safer work practices, and evaluation of occupational health and safety performance. This systematic approach facilitates a decrease in the number of incidents and ultimately less disruption to business.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has just launched its migration policy from OSHAS 18001 to ISO 45001 and Collen have been selected to be the first company in Ireland, to go through the IS0 45001 audit process. The launch of the ‘NSAI Migration Policy’ on 21st February 2018, took place on one of Collen’s construction sites and is ahead of the NSAI formal adoption and launch of the new standard.

NSAI laucnh ISO 45001 at Scot's Church, Abbey Street.

NSAI laucnh ISO 45001 at Scot's Church, Abbey Street.

Fergal O’Byrne, Head of Business Excellence at the NSAI has advised that the NSAI as head of all certification bodies in Ireland “wanted to align with a Main Contractor who embodied all that NSAI stood for and is very impressed by the leadership displayed by Collen in driving its Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) management systems, as well as the appetite displayed for migrating to the new standard.”

Collen has a robust Occupation Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS) in place and currently certified to OHSAS 18001 and accredited with an A Rating from SAFE T Cert for the seventh consecutive year. An OHSMS translates the organisation’s intentions to prevent incidents in a systematic and ongoing set of processes that reinforces commitment to proactively improving OHS performance. The decision to gain OHSAS 18001 accreditation allowed Collen to demonstrate to its employees, customers, and the community its ongoing commitment to improving OHS performance.

ISO 45001 moves away from management of OHS to leadership and participation and senior management now has greater accountability and involvement in the organisation’s OHSMS as well as promoting and supporting the participation of all workers encompassed in the OHSMS. Tommy Drumm, Managing Director, supports this approach fully. He believes that Collen has already embraced the shift from management of OHS to leadership and participation by “ensuring that the necessary resources are available to support the OHSMS in achieving its intended outcomes.”

ISO 45001 now requires organisations to look beyond its immediate health and safety issues and consider what the wider society expects of it. Organisations will have to think about their contractors and suppliers, as well as the effects their activities have on neighbouring communities. “At Collen”, Tommy says, “the wider enterprise of suppliers and sub-contractors has always been recognised as a key link in providing a safe and healthy workplace.” He explained that since 2016 Collen has held annual Safety Leadership workshops with its internal management team and wider supply-chain seeking buy in from the highest level so that a top-down approach to health and safety is delivered throughout Collen and the organisations with whom it engages. “A shared safety vision is one of the key factors in helping to delivering efficiency to our clients as well supporting legal, ethical and moral obligations to construction workers.”

David Lee, Construction Director, was a key promoter of the Safety Leadership workshops for Collen’s management teams. He advised that following these, “Collen now has an agreed vision, through a charter (the Collen Safety Charter), which advocates continuous improvement of OHS across its projects, as the Company strives to be an industry leader in safety.” He adds that “the Collen Safety Charter provides the foundation for a cultural shift in the way project delivery teams and supply-chain view OHS and injury prevention and allows the project leadership to showcase their commitment to this new set of behaviours and attitudes.”

Donal Hennessy, Collen Commercial Director, helped plan the supply chain workshop to facilitate the implementation of Safety Leadership across the wider enterprise. He put to the supply-chain the financial consequences of failing to manage health & safety correctly, “Risk management is an essential aspect of running any business. In construction, safety poses the most significant financial exposure for companies operating in the industry. A construction site is a high-risk environment every day and no-one working in construction should ever forget that. It’s the reason why there are safety policies and procedures to identify hazards specific to the task with the aim of either eliminating or mitigating them. Failing to lead safety so that the risk it poses to our businesses is minimised, will ultimately have serious financial consequences through an increasing number of injuries, giving rise to an increasing number of claims, which lead to increased insurance premiums and accident statistics that affect future work-winning.”

“Prospective clients want to know how robust a contractor’s OHS regime is”, says Declan Lowry, New Business Director. It is such a critical factor in work-winning, he explains that “unless contractors can demonstrate proven track records in the prevention of injuries, they will not be considered for the project.”

With the assured support from Collen’s directors, Joe O’Dwyer, Health & Safety Manager says, “Attaining ISO 45001 accreditation, is the obvious step for Collen and helps deliver Collen’s vision of working to ensure we maintain a continually improving safety culture”. He is looking forward to working with the NSAI to bring Collen’s OHSMS up to an international standard. “The new standard, he explained, “brings risk-based thinking to the forefront including the requirement to explore opportunities. Once the relevant risks have been highlighted, this presents opportunities to address these through effective planning.”

“The planning requirements of the standard”, he says, “force you to look at how these risks will be addressed. Risk-based thinking ensures that risk is considered from the beginning and ensures that preventive action becomes part of strategic planning.”

David Lee, Construction Director recognises the importance of integrating the OHSMS into the Company’s core business processes and explains that “Collen’s OHSMS is embedded within Collen’s business rather than existing as a sub-system”. He supports a culture of safety leadership, which is inherent in every department within the organisation and allows everyone to feel accountable for safety. “At Collen”, he explains, “workers are encouraged to identify unsafe conditions and behaviours and are comfortable intervening to correct them through clearly defined processes that promote disclosure.” He says that OHS is a key aspect of strategic planning within Collen and that accreditation of the OHSMS to ISO 45001 will drive OHS to the next level in line with longer-term strategic goals.

As the new standard requires OHS to explicitly tie in with an organisation’s overall business strategy, Collen looks to be ahead of the curve as it embraces migration to ISO45001. With Collen now active in various European countries, an internationally recognised OHS accreditation will help it deliver the highest OHS standards wherever it operates.

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