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Balfour safety boss rejects claims collaboration has ‘gone backwards’

Balfour Beatty’s safety director Heather Bryant has hit back at suggestions that the industry has “gone backwards” in collaborating over health and safety.

Ms Bryant, formerly the head of construction at the Health and Safety Executive, told CN she believed there had been an increase in the amount the industry worked together on safety.

She was responding to yesterday’s CN Briefing, which cited a roundtable at which tier one safety directors suggested collaboration between companies had declined in recent years.

“We fundamentally disagree that we’re going backwards in collaborating, because I see more and more of it,” Ms Bryant said.

“Perhaps some people’s fingers are not as much on the pulse as others. What I’m finding is nothing but collaboration.

“People are not hiding what they are doing; they are talking like grown-ups about good practice with a common goal in mind.”

Ms Bryant cited the work of the Health in Construction Leadership Group formed in 2016 by companies including Balfour Beatty, Lendlease, Mace and Skanska, as well as clients such as Landsec and Tideway.

She said the group’s work, along with that of the Mates in Mind mental health charity and Supply Chain Sustainability School initiative, were evidence of collaborative action on health and safety.

“Back in 2016 a group of us came together and said, ‘Let the industry pick up the baton and start acting together’.

“There’s a lot going on that we don’t shout about. Sometimes we like to have a solution before making a noise.”

Balfour Beatty’s safety chief also responded to the issue of long hours highlighted by CN today in a further investigation into the Tottenham Hotspur stadium project.

“We are aware of [issue of long hours] and we’ve got some active engagement,” Ms Bryant said.

“We’ve doing a lot beyond the legal compliance to understand why there can be long hours and to try to work with people so they understand the concerns and the consequences.”

Readers' comments (2)

  • I am not sure how the industry can be criticised on collaboration over safety, my time in BB it was the only success they had when collaboration came around, in the safety teams!!

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  • She's got it wrong, again. The large, well-resourced contractors do collaborate with themselves, their clients and the 1st tier of their key supply chain. It is the lower tier contractors where collaboration is less effective and where the focus should be. CN's recent article 'Fatalities rate: Is this as safe as we'll ever get?' provides good editorial comment.

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