Gary Flatley

How did you become part of the Broadcasting & Telecommunications committee?

Whilst attending the IOSH stand at the 2017 H&S Expo. I showed an interest in the group and discussed the role with a very nice IOSH representative. I requested some more details and the rest is history.

What benefits do you feel that the B&TG brings for you?

Important decisions and strategies are discussed and decided at the group so I feel it will be good to expand and stretch my knowledge plus hone my negotiation skills by attending and contributing to the committee.

I have previous experience working in a governance role and committees/workshops

What do you do in your “day job”?

I assure the business compliance to a mobile telecommunication business. My job title is SHEQ Manager so I am responsible for the whole management system. I also combine the physical aspect of the role by monitoring, mentoring and training within the business.

How would you describe the way you do your role – in 5 words?

With consistency, professionalism and fairness.

What do you find the most interesting part of your role?

When management systems work. Whether internally or externally audited and no non-conformances are found. Fully integrated and effective management systems will reduce accidents and contribute to a healthier, happier workforce.

What part of your role presents the most challenges?

Humans! Never underestimate how a person may behave or react. No matter how much work you put into a person. Some will always have the ability to make a wrong decision or ‘human error’. No matter how effective you think your safe systems of work are. A human will at some point have a lapse or mistake causing an unplanned event. Preventing human errors is the most challenging part of the job.

What’s your health and safety “soap box” subject?

PPE blanket policies. I believe if you are trying to cover hazards by mandatory PPE policies then you haven’t done enough to educate the workforce on significant hazards and risks. E.g. the wearing of High Viz vests working in a Greenfield on a telecommunications tower. I allow the task teams to justify the relaxation of the policies if there is little or no risk of a collision with a vehicle. Unfortunately some of our clients do not understand our method of risk management and insist on needless PPE. We need our teams to dynamically risk assess themselves plus truly understand what is meant by effective control measures. Not protect them in a mythical ‘iron blanket’.

What is your one piece of advice for any safety professional?

Be prepared to stand your ground with anyone. If you are confident and have a decent level of knowledge in your subject or issue you are raising. Stand by it and make sure you can reference a case study or a court report as a real example of what can happen when things go wrong. Don’t be afraid to escalate up the food chain to the Managing Director or CEO if you are not being heard. Very often you will find managers will flaunt good H&S practice in order to ‘get the job done’ or give the excuses, ‘I am trying to save the business money’. This in my opinion is where your weaknesses will be in the business and bad management will compound any H&S issues you will likely come across.

Lead by example!