John Coyne recently joined the ClearyDoyle team as its new Health & Safety Manager. In this role, John manages all aspects of ClearyDoyle’s site and office health and safety, including education of teams and subcontractors in health and safety practices and legislation, implementing systems to benefit works, and auditing the company’s health and safety performance on an ongoing basis.
What is your background/qualifications?
My introduction to construction was early as my father was a contractor. I studied Health Safety and Environmental Management (Level 7) and Project Management (Level 8). at Carlow IT.
I have worked in water treatment (mechanical), electrical, commercial and private gas installation, fit-out and pharmaceutical construction. I have also had a short stint in demolition.
What attracted you to Health & Safety?
We all have lives outside of work. Simply put, every person deserves to go home in the same physical and mental condition they started their day. Health & safety managers are the people charged with ensuring this happens. Passing on knowledge gained and instilling a safety-first outlook in another person that could save their or another person’s life one day gives real meaning to my work.
What does your job involve?
I currently visit sites across the eastern region to observe and improve health and safety practices. This work covers advising on the best practices for the work at hand and aiding and assisting in developing statutory forms. I also audit the sites to see where there may be a plausible cause for incidents, address and instruct site teams on health and safety and then follow through to see that any issues raised are addressed.
The main focus is to constantly improve our own staff’s and subcontractors’ culture and perspectives on safety.
Is all of your work site-based?
Some parts of the job are done offsite, but visiting sites is where I am at my most effective. Helping site managers maintain and improve health and safety standards and ensuring that all subcontractors or site visitors understand and comply with what is expected of them is what the job is mostly about.
What does it mean to work at ClearyDoyle?
I have been working at ClearyDoyle for a little over a month now, and I have to say there is something special about this company. First up, I have learned very quickly that at ClearyDoyle no one is a number; everyone is part of a very supportive family. Each person has a voice that is heard no matter what the subject. When challenges arise, these are dealt with as a team.
During the interview process, both directors (John P Doyle and Brian Byrne) gave a clear vision of what ClearyDoyle’s ethos, and this is evident on all its sites. Working closely with Brian Byrne, I see the respect everyone has for him and his indomitable passion for what he does. And this passion is instilled across the whole team. Although only here a few weeks, I would like to think I have a long career with ClearyDoyle ahead of me.
What is your greatest challenge?
Changing habitual mindsets can be a difficult task. When a person has been doing one action for 30 years and is told there is a better and safer way to do it, you can be and often are met with resistance. Showing how a task can be completed more safely and efficiently can be done once and then ignored, but resetting the behaviour may take multiple times until it finally ‘clicks’. So, it is vital that I communicate clearly and show respect to the individual whose behaviour I am looking to change, and be patient in helping them change that behaviour.
What are the key challenges for health and safety managers working in Ireland?
Having a good safety and work culture can be the most challenging task to achieve. If workers have concerns about whether they are carrying out a task in the best possible or safest way, they need to know that they can and are expected to speak up. For instance, if an operative has thought about and implemented the step-by-step process of their method statement, but they have discovered a new risk, they must, at this point, stop work and report their concerns to the site team.
What advice would you give to somebody considering a career in health and safety?
From directors to groundworkers, every person you meet is an expert in their own field. That vital piece of information can benefit you more than any 100-page method statement. I wouldn’t have the same specific knowledge as an electrician who has been working on HV power lines and switchboards. If you are unsure about something, never be afraid to ask, and then use that information to add to your expertise. One thing I heard in the past that rings true is: “I’m not an expert, neither is the man on the ground, but together as a team, we are an expert”.