3rd June 2016

Acre Health & Safety: Mount Anvil Hammersmith Site Tour


It is characteristic of Acre’s attention to ‘the little things’ that my very first day at Acre wasn’t at Acre at all. It wasn’t even in an office. It was a visit to an active construction site being developed by Mount Anvil. Why? If you want to understand your clients, you have to understand their world.

If you haven’t heard of Mount Anvil and you work in health and safety – especially in construction and the built environment – then you need to get yourself over to their website now. Go. You will be amazed. An audit score of 99.93% from the British Safety Council is literally record breaking.

So yes, my first day in recruitment was hardly ordinary. Hard hats, high-vis, and toe-capped boots aren’t the usual uniform of the recruitment professional. But perhaps they should be! Or at least, those among us who service the construction and/or build environment sectors might want to squeeze into them a little more often.

“Why”? you might ask. By spending time in your clients’ environment can you really start to grasp the realities of what they do. A description is good, but an experience is better. When the six of us arrived on site, we were transported into a world where fundamental skills such as empathy, compassion, understanding and respect can be a matter of life and death.

What we witnessed at Mount Anvil wasn’t the ‘health and safety’ one reads about in the papers. It wasn’t the ‘health and safety’ that you might have heard friends, family and colleagues moan about over the dinner table. This was health and safety as it can and should be. If you want to see where HSE is going, look at where Mount Anvil is now.

So, what’s the big deal about them? What makes their HSE so cutting edge? Part of the bedrock of the approach that Simon Walker – Health and Safety Director at Mount Anvil – laid out was the absolute importance of understanding human behaviour. Qualifications are one thing; they can be earned relatively easily. Knowing how to influence is another. You can’t keep people safe and healthy who don’t actively want to be safe and healthy.

So, when asked what the qualities of a good HSE candidate are, Simon Walker puts those interpersonal skills at the absolute top of his list. Michelle Rice – on site HSE Coach at the Mount Anvil Hammersmith site – kindly showed us around her stomping ground and helped us to see exactly what this means.


Michelle Rice (far left) – HSE coach at Mount Anvil – explains the nuances of their integrated approach to HSE on the ground in Hammersmith.

It means leaving the clipboard in the office – a surprisingly important detail – and talking to workers as an equal, not a potential violator of bureaucratic commandments to be intimidated into compliance. The genius of this approach is that health and safety can be something that people do together, not have done to them.

Emotional intelligence is the name of the game.

That said, Mount Anvil put technology as well as psychology to work in their mission to eliminate on-site risk. By using a hazard reporting app which all on-site employees and sub-contractors have access to, they forego traditional inspections completely and ‘crowd source’ hazard reporting and accident prevention.

This removes the unpleasant feelings conventional inspections can create – ‘Don’t they trust me?’ ‘I’ve been doing this for years!’ – In this way, they build trust by empowering workers to participate in keeping their own site safe and environmentally sound. It also gets people thinking about safety. Another victory! This is the philosophy behind their ‘Spot it, Fix it, Log it!’ campaign.

Sceptics might question whether workers will actively participate in this HSE from the ground-up, but the 12,000 hazards logged last year are a resounding vindication of this approach! Mount Anvil use innovative training software (Hazception) to ensure that all workers have the skills necessary to live up to the responsibilities entrusted to them.

This typifies an approach which is beyond positive. Real health and safety professionals, in Simon and Michelle’s view, will seek to encourage employees to build their skills in hazard perception and elimination, rather than adopt a punitive approach.

Analysis of the outcome of this policy can be measured in awards – of which Mount Anvil have many – but also in likely accidents avoided and money saved. Using the Heinrich Triangle, Mount Anvil can confirm that they’ve saved millions of pounds that would have been otherwise been spent in dealing with on-site accidents, many of which may have ended tragically.

It was an absolute privilege to learn from Mount Anvil. To learn more about them, please consult their website. You will not be disappointed. To say that the goals of Mount Anvil and Acre are in alignment is a massive understatement. This site visit is an excellent example of the potential gains in understanding to be made by recruitment consultants through visiting and listening to their clients on the ground.

With a commanding view of the Thames, the Mount Anvil Hammersmith site was inspiring on all levels. Here, we see Simon Walker – Health and Safety Director at Mount Anvil – lays out the realities of on-site HSE to the Acre Health and Safety recruitment team.