23rd March 2017

Acre Inspire+: Innovation in Construction Health & Safety


The weather in London may have been far from inspirational, but there were no dampened spirits at the Turner & Townsend offices where 75 of the next generation of safety leaders gathered for the first Acre Inspire+ event of 2017.

Chaired by Turner & Townsend’s Peter McGettrick, the theme of the conference was Innovation in Construction Health & Safety, and with five inventive minds presenting on refreshingly different topics from technology and lean construction to diversity and non-compliance there was plenty of scope for debate on the challenges facing the profession today.

As attendees from Balfour Beatty to Thames Tideway (and everyone in between) took their seats against a backdrop of the iconic St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Ted-style conference opened with an introduction from Acre Senior Consultant Joel Baker, who presented it as an opportunity to foster ideas that would “act as a catalyst for change” across the industry.

The afternoon kicked off with a thought provoking insight into lean construction provided by Richard Lyle of Turner & Townsend Suiko, who addressed the need to drive performance through “proactive rather than reactive safety measures” through an impactful use of charts and optical illusions.

Next up was Health & Safety Director at Mount Anvil, Simon Walker, who pointed to technology as a means of pulling safety training away from its old hat roots, towards an emphasis on individual rather than abstract knowledge: “If we are focusing on making safety bespoke, why make training plans generic?” he asked.

Just prior to a break for coffee, third speaker John Green – HSEQ Director at Laing O’Rourke and advocate of Safety Differently – stirred up some vibrant conversation with his inference that safety is running the risk of becoming “utterly irrelevant” if old practices of the past three decades are not collectively discarded.

“Somewhere along the line, safety became all about managing deficits,” he explained. “We think about safety as the absence of things we don’t want. This isn’t safety we’re perusing: its unsafety.”

Diversity and inclusion specialist Pamela McInroy has been making waves in construction culture since delivering her pioneering approach to wellbeing at Crossrail, and her presentation on how a sense of inclusion on site can affect a person’s health and safety was a mind-broadening insight to the importance of inclusivity.

Ending on a high note, Head of H&S Construction at Mace, Martin Coyd skilfully navigated the issues surrounding mental health and suicide in construction with an air of tactful humour, before the floor was opened up for some questions from the audience.

After Martin,  some food for thought was provided by the Q&A session, lengthy discussion ensued over a drinks and canapes reception where the likeminded networked, ideas flourished and hearty debate continued long into the evening.

Join us for the third event in the Acre Inspire+ series on April 26th, The Art of Influencing, to hear a panel of industry leaders speak about how they developed the skill of influencing to get to where they are today. For more information click here