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Covid-19 Will Have A Lasting Benefit On How We Communicate On Site – John Paul Construction

Mike McLoughlin, Health & Safety Manager, John Paul Construction.

Mike McLoughlin, Health & Safety Manager, John Paul Construction, writes about the innovative ways in which the contractor used technology and social media to convey its safety messages during Construction Safety Week 2020.

In many ways, our world has been turned upside down this year by the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite all its restrictions, it has also forced us to look at things differently. It has forced us to plan, coordinate and communicate to a higher standard and in different ways. We believe this will have long-lasting benefits for health and safety in construction.

John Paul Construction Safety Week 2020

Construction Safety Week 2020 was a great example of where we saw various means of communication bringing benefit. It is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness for all involved in the construction industry and improve buy-in that can be sustained on an on-going basis. Since its inception in 2016, we have generally delivered our messages through large site talks with guest speakers, toolbox talks and demonstrations. However, this year we had to be more inventive. Initially, John Paul Construction was concerned that we would not be able to deliver our message, but as it turned out, we feel we were more effective.

Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody, with John Paul Construction Managing Director Liam Kenny, delivered a talk to almost 300 John Paul Construction staff.

Safety Leadership

We started Construction Safety Week with a Safety Leadership session delivered by legendary Kilkenny hurling manager Brian Cody. Over Microsoft Teams, Brian delivered a powerful session, including a Q&A, to almost 300 staff. He tapped into the parallels between his outstanding sporting achievements and our relentless pursuit of safety excellence. In an inspiring talk, he spoke about commitment, standards, expectations, feedback, support and engagement.

Safety Videos

In advance of the week, we produced three short videos to cover important safety topics – plant/person interfaces, work at height, and lifting operations (all available on our LinkedIn page). We were concerned that we would not be able to communicate to everyone, so we distributed these through WhatsApp groups across our projects, in-person to small groups, and on our site display screens.

All in-person talks during the week were undertaken with small groups, which ended up being far more effective and engaging, particularly around the subjects of mental health, wellbeing and occupational health. People were more forthcoming with real and meaningful feedback.

Worksafe – Homesafe

Each year, John Paul Construction run a Worksafe – Homesafe competition, where workers are asked to take photos at home to reinforce what safety is all about at the end of that day. This year we put a Covid-19 twist on the competition ‘Stand Up to Covid’. Everyone was asked to take a photo at home with their loved ones to demonstrate commitment to the Covid-19 control measures. The competition was a huge success, with great buy-in from all.

Overall, the combination of virtual interaction, video clips, personal engagement with small groups, and an outstanding level of ingenuity from our site teams resulted in a very successful week that we can build on rather than reverting to how it was before.

John Paul Construction recently won the Health, Safety and Wellbeing award at the Irish Construction Excellence Awards for its safety leadership initiative.