Every minute, millions of people are driving on highways around the world. When we think about their safety, we usually imagine drivers at the wheel, vehicle protection systems, and speed limits. However, highway safety measures go way beyond that, and they also involve the workers who are carrying out tasks on them every day.
Ensuring the health and safety of employees is fundamental for any company, and Cintra, a Ferrovial subsidiary, is no exception. The Health & Safety (H&S) department is a key axis in developing operational strategies, focusing their efforts on implementing practices that are taken into consideration when defining the operational processes.
Here, we’ll talk about what our work as operations leaders entails, even the aspects that are not always visible. We carry out this work with the aim of improving conditions every day for all who work on highways. Every improvement is a great achievement and our main goal.
What is the role of operations leader?
The simple answer would be that an operations role seeks to establish standards and implements safety measures that seek to prevent accidents. But we can take it further than that. Our main objective as operations leaders at Cintra is to work to identify best practices in all areas of operations, including those in H&S. Sometimes, these are internal operations within the highways in which we have a stake, and on the other hand, there are those in other countries or sectors. Once these best practices have been identified, we work with the goal of incorporating them efficiently into the projects in which Cintra participates. That’s where our advisory mission comes into play, devoting efforts so that Cintra’s fundamental principles are taken into account at every point of the operational strategies. They must be present throughout the entire project; from the moment it is tendered until it goes back to the granting authority.
As operations leaders, we ensure that compliance with contractual requirements, optimal risk mitigation, and maximum operational efficiency are guaranteed. Much of our work is focused on seeking the implementation of the best health and safety practices in order to maintain every worker’s safety and well-being.
The importance of health and safety in companies
Worker’s health and safety is one of the most important aspects for companies today, and this is undoubtedly a fundamental principle of the entire operational strategy that Cintra seeks to implement. We must incorporate this element into the entire activity and consider it in each of our actions.
To do this, collaboration is essential. As operations leaders, we know that coordinating the introduction of measures while considering health and safety is key to succeeding in their implementation. That’s why we operate as a chain of transmission, both agile and efficient.
In our case, our daily work at Cintra is focused on trying to improve health and safety conditions for highway workers. This is a significant achievement, and our main goal. This goal also keeps us motivated and determined to keep learning and improving.
Guides, improvements, and good practices
Improving the conditions related to H&S is one of Cintra’s top objectives. To this end, two symposiums on health and safety were held last June to set up the company’s common standards for its two geographical areas: Europe and New Markets, on the one hand, and the United States, on the other.
For Europe and New Markets, the symposium was definitely a great success. The conference was inaugurated by Cintra’s CEO, Andrés Sacristán, and then a meeting was held that brought together the heads of highways ranging from Australia to Colombia, and India to Europe. The objective was to analyze and share information on how health and safety measures are integrated into specific situations of operation and maintenance activities.
For the United States, this was an equally interesting exercise with colleagues from all the concessions in North America participating. The symposium mainly focused on analyzing the possible risks to which the roadway teams for the concessions in which we participate are exposed when working with traffic around them. All the attendees were quite open when sharing their opinions and experiences, and there were very interesting discussions that helped identify the main risks and the best solutions to try to prevent them.
These symposiums help us optimize processes and get better. One good example of this is the Guide to Good Practices that we’ve written, which includes all the comments and contributions collected during those workshops. The guide will be shared with the concessions for its for its evaluation and application in all the toll roads in which Cintra has a stake.
Experiences that invite improvement
In our day-to-day work, the opportunity to work with fantastic teams drives us to improve and do our job even better. This includes both the Operations Department and the Concessions Department. It is always a challenge and a pleasure working with such excellent, committed professionals. Furthermore, the opportunity to consult with some concessions on their operations and contribute to resolving their issues is highly rewarding.
Soon, I’ll celebrate my 19th anniversary of joining Cintra. Over these years, I have always worked very closely with the concessions in Europe and New Markets, in some cases even in the early phases of new highways. On one occasion, my work involved implementing a system for managing maintenance activities on highways.
One part of the system was an application on a tablet, which was where maintenance workers filled in their work orders. I worked for years on training, implementation, and improvements for this system, and I learned the day-to-day reality of these operators, including the risks of working with traffic driving close by. They shared certain experiences and situations with me, some of them were quite complex. Being better highway managers in the area of health and safety starts and ends with these operators.
I joined the Austin headquarters just a few months ago as head of operations. Before that, I coordinated operations of one of the concessions in which Cintra participates in Dallas, so the colleagues and friends who face situations of possible risk on a daily basis are more than just names to me. They deserve the utmost involvement from our entire organization to ensure that we continue working so that they get home safely to their families every evening.