‘What3Things?’ could save a life

Heather Bryant, Director of Health, Safety and Environment, explores how Balfour Beatty is taking an active approach to designing out risk across its operations

It is no secret that our industry is inherently dangerous and getting our people home safely every day is one of our biggest areas of focus. We’ve long had in place our Zero Harm mission – it is one of our long-standing values that we work hard to deliver against, having decreased our lost time injury rate by over 50% since 2014.

But as the construction and infrastructure sector evolves and the way that we operate changes, it is important that we take the opportunity to revaluate, educate our people and up the ante, so that we can continue on this positive trajectory.

This month, as part of our campaign, ‘Safety Stand Up’ – a Group wide initiative encouraging employees take time out of their busy schedules to pause, discuss and re-evaluate their approach to health and safety – we’re launching our latest health and safety approach, ‘What3Things?’.

‘What3Things?’ is ultimately aimed at designing out our ten fatal risks before they even arise, providing a quick and easy prompt for our people to use alongside our golden rules - be fit for work, always receive a briefing before starting work, report all unsafe events and conditions and stop work if anything changes.

These industry-wide fatal risks range from working at height and utility avoidance, to people plant interface and lifting operations. ‘What3Things?’ details the key measures that must be considered and put in place before we commence any potentially dangerous activities; acting as a guiding principle and blueprint, packaged in an easily accessible format to make our sites safer places for our people to be.

Launched last week, ‘What3Things?’ has been communicated to our 24,500 employees across the UK, US and Hong Kong as well as our supply chain partners who will be participating in the ‘Safety Stand Up’ events we’re running throughout September.

Despite this latest development in our approach to achieving Zero Harm, ‘What3Things?’ is not a means to an end. Health and safety must be an ongoing conversation. We must continue to seek new ways to reiterate the importance of keeping our people safe. It is of utmost importance and our biggest priority.

Simply put, we cannot deliver our projects without our people. So, we’re asking everyone, from our apprentices to our leadership teams, to stand up, be counted and constantly challenge and engage in talking about ‘What3things?’.

Born of our investigations, observations and analysis of near misses, ‘What3Things?’ will save lives and serious injuries and take us ever closer to Zero Harm.

Read more about our new approach in an exclusive interview with Building Magazine here.