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World Day for Safety and Health at Work

Tuesday 28th April 2020 marks the International Labour Organisation’s ‘World Day for Safety and Health at Work’. As one might expect, this year the focus is firmly on COVID-19 (“Stop the Pandemic”), how it is having a dramatic impact on both the personal and working lives of millions of people worldwide and how workplace safety can help to save lives in the fight against the virus.

At 11am today, we all stopped work for a minute of silence and reflection to remember the key workers who have died with coronavirus and to pay tribute to their contribution in battling the pandemic. As a safety professional, this has been a consuming focus for me and my team over recent weeks and months, and we are proud of the way that our organisation has rallied and adapted to new ways of working.

The speed with which our team has understood the challenges and stepped up their personal response has led me to thinking about the future and how we might learn to live and work differently. We need to deal with the here and now and protect our workers from the current threat, but I think it’s important to look at our ‘future normal’ based on how we have adapted to this crisis using a single day to highlight and promote the measures already in place seems a little akin to reminiscing about the comforts of base camp having just set off up Everest.

“Safety, Health & Wellbeing Always” is one of our core values here on the EKFB Joint Venture. In everything that we do it is first and foremost, for everyone and never compromised. As such it is fair to say that safety, health & wellbeing is just part of our organisational DNA. We set exacting standards for our daily business needs both on and off site and have of course implemented a rigorous regime of measures to ensure the safety and health of our workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To say that we have recently witnessed significant changes to our daily working arrangements is an understatement. Across the business the response witnessed from all functions has been resolute in uniting to continue to deliver our business aims and strategies, albeit in a different way to how we have become accustomed. It is this tenacity and reactivity which enables us to tackle the challenges frequently presented in the world of engineering and construction. This difficult period provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon our working practices, our individual work life balances and to consider what our ‘future normal’ might look like.

The first part of 2020 has provided unprecedented challenges and there is no doubt that further, testing times lie ahead. With this in mind it is worth citing Albert Einstein, who once said that “in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity”. So, we find ourselves at base camp of our own Everest in the form of the largest infrastructure project in a generation, with our route clouded by the storm of COVID-19. Perhaps this is an opportunity to take stock, think and reflect about how we can forge a path to the summit which may follow the route taken by Tensing and Hillary but making use of the modern technology and strategy befitting of the 21st century.

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