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IFSEC Insider, formerly IFSEC Global, is the leading online community and news platform for security and fire safety professionals.
March 7, 2022

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The Video Surveillance Report 2022

Security and safety culture

Lessons in leadership

IFSEC Global caught up with Paul Warburton, General Manager at accommodation and hospitality service provider for Hinkley Point C, HOST, to discuss how security and safety culture can been transformed by visionary leadership and innovative technology.

Leading by example

The personal example set by leaders – and whether they follow their own rules – really matters to team performance, observes Paul Warburton. He illustrates his point with a recent example from his own health & safety operation at Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power station.

Paul is general manager for HOST, which is the outsourced provider of accommodation and hospitality services for construction crews working on the new facility.

“The other day a young member of staff approached one of my health & safety directors and said ‘I believe you should have a lid on that cup’ – because she’d spotted that he was walking around with a takeaway cup with the lid open. The director replied that she was absolutely right ‘do me a favour, take a photo of me with this cup and report it’.”

The point of dealing with incidents in this way – in this case reporting a breach of safety rules around the carrying of hot drinks – is not to get individuals into trouble, but to promote a workplace culture in which every staff member, regardless of seniority, feels empowered and supported in taking the initiative when they see a problem.

“Think about the flow down from that incident and the way it was dealt with,” reflects Paul – every time a problem is seen to be handled quickly and fairly in this way, everyone becomes more aligned with the team objectives – reinforcing its health & safety culture. And how well that works depends on the leadership example set by senior managers.

Team building

Three years into the contract, the HOST operation at HPC has been a stand-out success and Paul believes it is largely because of this approach to team building.

Staff retention, for example, has been remarkably high. Generally, a new hospitality-focused operation would expect a workforce turnover between 50% and 100% in the first year, says Paul – but in three years HOST’s turnover has been below 7%.

The HOST operation is aligned with HPC’s wider risk reduction strategy, which includes a seven-point process designed to identify recurring non-compliance and improve communications with stakeholders.

The HOST team has also earned the top rating for environmental and sustainability performance in NNBGenCo’s audit of contractors. HOST was the only business on the entire project to achieve this rating and as a result, is now well positioned to win future contracts in the nuclear sector and other critical infrastructure settings.

“I put this all down to our values, which means we put our people first.”

This means that everyone is encouraged in their personal sense of responsibility as part of a learning culture, not a blame culture. From faulty lights to broken glass, from vehicles being parked too close to perimeters causing a potential security vulnerability, everyone is alert to risks.

Use of technology – SafeZone app

Underpinning this whole strategy is HOST’s innovative use of technology. SafeZone, which combines safety, security and emergency management functions under a unified platform, is already well established in the higher education sector (in the UK it’s deployed at over 40% of university campuses) but the HPC construction project is an example of how it is now being adopted more widely, in this case in a critical national infrastructure setting.

SafeZone enables HOST’s control room team to respond immediately to any issue or call for assistance which has been triggered by an employee using their smartphone, or a dedicated wearable device. The system shows operators the exact location of every checked-in user, and the locations of all available responders, including security officers and other colleagues nearby.

This brings us back to the example of the hot drink. Every HOST employee can use SafeZone to report an issue whenever they see one – for example a potential hazard, a maintenance fault, or a breach of standard operating practice involving a resident, colleague, or the general facilities. The system’s ‘tip reporting’ function allows this to be done anonymously and makes it easy by allowing a photo from the scene to be quickly uploaded.

SafeZone’s heat-mapping and audit tools allow senior managers to review activity across the site, end to end, every day, interrogating both specific incidents and trends over time, to reveal opportunities to further improve operations.

As soon as the report is registered on the system, an automated case management process is initiated to get it resolved, with every stage logged and traceable – for example, the time from a hazard being reported to it being made safe, then being fully repaired. Each incident is followed by a review of what caused the problem and, crucially, the person who made the initial report is updated.

“It’s really important that when one of our team members reports an issue, they know they are going to get an answer. How often does someone say, ‘I’ve spoken to my bosses about something, and they don’t care’? We don’t have that problem here – and that’s worth its weight in gold.”

Even more so because of the sheer size of the operation. HOST manages two campuses at HPC, facilities which include 1500 bedrooms, communal areas, parking, extensive grounds, and perimeters. Its health & safety responsibilities and duty of care towards staff and residents takes in a population that includes seasoned nuclear industry workers and apprentices as young as 17. The HOST team comprises housekeeping staff – typically with 18 people on duty at any given time, including weekends – security officers, the FM and maintenance crew and duty managers.

Every on-duty team member logs into the SafeZone app, which means that typically there will be up to 35 workers using the system, and protected by it, at any given time. With each of those individuals empowered and encouraged to report safety issues, the result is that vigilance is extensive and continuous, whether that means spotting broken glass in a bin bay or a manhole cover that has settled, is no longer flush, and is presenting a potential trip hazard. There have been six cases of the latter incidentally, which is to be expected on a new-build site, but it’s nonetheless a risk that has to be dealt with promptly in this compliance-driven location.

“When I look at our planning system and review the timelines for incidents, the first marker I’m looking for is when it was reported and when it was made safe. If we look back, quite often it will be a cleaner or member of housekeeping who first raised the issue, and that would never have been the case without the tip reporting technology we are now using.”

Positive culture

The positive culture, with empowered and motivated staff, has benefited not just HOST, which has saved significantly on recruitment and training costs, but the local community where the company is now regarded – and valued – as a significant employer.

“Believe in your people,” says Paul Warburton. “Ask them to work hard but pay them correctly and treat them with respect. When they go home, they probably don’t have an argument or an extra pint of beer, they go to bed happy, wake up the next morning after good night’s sleep, and their partner is happy to send them off to work. And guess what? I’ve got a productive team member and someone who’s got a happy home life. From me doing what? Doing what I should do.”

Register today for IFSEC 2023

16-18 May 2023, ExCeL London | IFSEC 2023: Recognising the past, embracing the future

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