7th May 2020
Nick joins the company with extensive experience and qualifications in the world of health & safety – whilst also having a unique perspective on our industry from the other side – as a former professional football player!
Thanks, to say it’s been busy would be an understatement! No one could ever have predicted the situation the country has found its self in and I definitely didn’t expect it when I joined the company 10 weeks ago. Although the situation has not been ideal there have been many positives to take, for me it has proven why this company has grown so quickly and so successfully.
In a time where there has been so much uncertainty in the world there has been a clear message from David Slatter and the team – and that was if we stick together we will come through this pandemic stronger. Throughout the 10 weeks I have received nothing but support from within the business and feel I have already formed strong relationships with many individuals involved with the business. It has been extremely humbling and I am excited for what the future holds for S&C Slatter.
I am a retired professional footballer and decided to hang my boots up at the age of 22. From there I put myself through university as I was unsure where life would take me, football was all I had known since I had left school at 16. I studied Sport and Exercise Science at the University of Portsmouth whilst I was assessing where I wanted to take my career. In my final year I took the bold decision to leave and pursue a career in construction where I joined Dyer and Butler in 2014 after receiving my Higher National Diploma (HND). At Dyer and Butler I was quickly given the opportunity to progress through the ranks and I was fortunate enough that the former Health and Safety Manager offered me a position as Assistant Health and Safety Advisor. Dyer and Butler funded an extensive selection of courses which allowed me to become qualified in several fields very quickly, then backed my progression throughout to allow me to become a fully qualified Safety Professional with a large portfolio of nationally recognised qualifications.
My role within the business is Health Safey Environment Quality and Training Manager. Ultimately I am responsible for all employees’ Health and Safety – not only on site but within the office setting. Another responsibility is to identify areas of improvement and to assess individuals, identifying courses which will up-skill our staff. This in turn improves our business so that we can provide the best complete service whilst ensuring the highest level of compliance on site.
Everyone in the industry will agree there have been huge changes within the industry over the past few years and (depending on who you ask) you will receive different answers as to whether they agree on all those changes. The biggest change I have seen is that the HSE and the other enforcing bodies have started focusing on occupational health and have introduced large sanctions on companies that fail to manage this. This has been brought about by the number of claims from the older generation that used to undertake tasks such as breaking/grinding out brickwork and concrete without sufficient controls measures in place.
Over the past few years scientific evidence has been brought to the table to highlight the heath implications of not managing construction risks. Illnesses such as Silicosis/mesothelioma and white finger have started to become evident in the older generation of construction workers and this has led to the enforcing bodies focusing their attention on these areas. Companies now are mandated to ensure that staff undertaking tasks are adequately protected with sufficient control measures implemented. You will see far fewer operatives in the future suffering the same injuries and ill health as the previous generation, which is a positive change.
The HSE have been quiet throughout the pandemic which has surprised me as they are usually at the forefront of providing advice. Whilst many assume that The Health and Safety at Work Regulations may have been relaxed like MOT’s etc, they have not. The Regulations were introduced to ensure the safety of staff and there has been no changes in the regulations due to COVID-19. What has been introduced is the Site Operating Procedures issues by the Construction Leadership Council. This document provides guidance on what is expected of all sites that have to continue to operate.
Having only been at S&C Slatter for a short duration of time – the majority of which has been been under lockdown – I haven’t yet dealt with many challenges customers are facing. From past experience, for me it would be companies fully understanding their roles and understanding their duties under the Construction Design Management (CDM) Regulations 2015. Where the CDM Regulations 2015 are extensive and so in depth, company’s representatives do not always fully understand what is expected of them and that is often challenging when delivering projects.
My role as a Health and Safety Manager often poses many challenges – not necessarily within S&C Slatter, but for Health & Safety (H&S) professionals across the board. The biggest hurdle is getting the buy-in from the teams on the ground delivering the work. Due to Health and Safety often presenting hurdles during the construction phase, you sometimes find that the team delivering the work will respond negatively to healthy & safety procedures, as they see them as a hinderance if their works are held up. This is where building strong relationships is crucial. If teams feel they can call you for advice and involve health & safety throughout the whole process, any negativity is removed. At S&C Slatter as stated above, I have been welcomed in my role, which has made my transition into the business smooth.
When I was approached regarding the role I was told that S&C Slatter was a company that were growing quickly and had a young team that were hungry to succeed and progress. When I sat down with Ben O’Connor and Peter Fowler, they outlined exactly where the business was and where they intended to take it. The hunger to succeed matched my ambition so I was sold almost immediately following our discussion and couldn’t wait to join.
From a Health & Safety perspective I would recommend the individual responsible for health and safety within any organisation being involved from the planning phase. This allows for a different perspective and can often lead to major hazards being removed or risks being reduced before construction has even begun.
With having a young energetic family, we are often out on dog walks or bike rides as my kids love to be active. We have been renovating our home for the last 18 months so any free time is eaten up working on the house.
A huge thank you to Nick for taking time out to answer these questions – we know how hectic it is for him at the moment – and what a brilliant insight into the changing and important world of health and safety. Welcome to the team Nick!
Putting the safety of our staff and clients is at the forefront of what we do. Every project we undertake involves our dedicated health and safety manager, contracts managers and site managers to ensure best practice is delivered on all of our sites.