The World Day for Safety and Health at Work is held on 28th April to promote the prevention of accidents at work and occupational illnesses throughout the world. It is an awareness-raising campaign to draw international attention to the scale of the problem and to how creating and promoting a culture of health and safety can help reduce the number of work-related deaths and injuries.
Health and Safety is a key factor for achieving operational excellence. Ferrovial’s policy, as approved by the Board of Directors, therefore aims to “create working environments which are hazard-free for all, every day”, driven by the belief that every accident is avoidable.
Objective Target Zero
This vision sets a “Target Zero” as the desired objective, i.e. raising awareness and working towards the target of zero accidents every day. To achieve this, a new, more relevant and more efficient way of managing health and safety is required.
As a general rule, both organisations and their staff must change ways of thinking and talking about health and safety at work. As a company, we need to develop policies and actions, but we must also get staff involved. More specifically, we have to re-work the way in which staff think and act on the issue, changing from the “negative” to the “positive”, from “reactive” to “proactive”, from the current safety culture to the desired status where staff feel they are an active part of health and safety, rather than a passive element.
Health and Safety activities within Ferrovial
The Road Map developed by Ferrovial to achieve this end comprises the following overall actions:
- Development of a Health and Safety Policy which explicitly sets out this goal.
- Implementation of a more effective internal communications procedure on the issue of health and safety.
- Development of a Reporting System including both proactive and reactive indicators.
- Visits to Group companies around the world to learn how health and safety is managed in the work place and identify best practice which can be extended and introduced in other Group companies.
- Working together with Ferrovial’s Innovation team to create and develop technologies which help prevent risks.
- Development of a Road Safety Plan to bring about a reduction in the number of work-related road accidents, whether in itinere (on the way to or from work), when on secondments, or in the normal course of work.
How innovation can improve health and safety
The company’s innovation teams and the various initiatives supporting research and development of technological projects have focused on this issue. As a result, automated warning systems are in place within the company to minimise the risk of accidents. Some of the projects in place are:
- WPP (Warning Presence of People): This consists of an acoustic and luminous warning signal fitted in the operating cab of the machines being used. The signal is activated when a person walks in the machine’s radius of action, thus avoiding accidents such as being hit or run over on site.
- Health & Safety on Hand: Through a wearable device on the member of staff, the worksite supervisor can verify that the person’s documentation relating to health and safety at work is in order, what qualifications the person holds, and what courses he/she has carried out.
- Worker Access Control to Risky Areas: This initiative allows automated supervision of the hours worked by a particular member or staff, and controls access to restricted areas on the worksite simply by walking up to a sensor.
- Hazard Warnings: Using a system of warning signals, the infrastructure itself will alert staff to the fact that they are in a hazard area, and provide information on the nature of the hazard and the protection elements required for entering the relevant work area.
- Worker Emergency Notice: This consists of a panic button which emits an emergency alert for imminent hazards on site, and allows the relevant protocol for action to be set in motion in a more coordinated manner in the event of an accident at the workplace.
Strength in numbers towards occupational health and safety
We can all help to turn the issue of health and safety around, to accept the challenge of promoting health and safety beyond mere compliance with legislation, to be more ambitious even than the “Target Zero” goal, and to use all the elements at our disposal to further this aim and become the best in the business in this respect. We can act to improve occupational health and safety for our staff by taking on new challenges and choosing to change our attitudes. All Ferrovial staff – that’s more than 74,000 people – should be committed to this. As the activist and founder of The Body Shop, Anita Roddick, once said:
“’If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito in the room.”
So we must join forces, be aware, and be involved in health and safety. Together we can do it. Are you game?