Construction workers need to be central to this process

'There’s a trojan effort within the industry to get ‘Health & Safety’ [email protected] says Paul O'Shea, Managing Director of Ashview Consultants (Ireland) & (NI)

21st October, 2019

What's your name?

Paul O’Shea

What position do you hold?

Managing Director of Ashview Consultants (Ireland) & (NI). I am currently the Chairperson of the Irish branch of the Institute of International Risk & Safety Management (or IIRSM for short). The IIRSM is a charity for those responsible for managing risks in all their forms. We are independent and speak freely, championing risk management to drive positive change for both employee and organisational wellbeing. We do this through setting standards, connecting people and organisations, and providing practical education, training, advice, and resources.

What is your day to day responsibilities?

Highly variable, it can often vary working between the 2 offices in Dublin and Newry, which can mean plenty of traveling, to managing a number of large-scale projects for our current customer base and business development, all in the one day!

What is your professional background?

I hold Health & Safety qualifications ranging across a number of grades including the Diploma in Occupational Health & Safety, and also hold construction, environmental and auditing certification. During my early years in health and safety in Australia, I gained accreditation in a number of areas in construction safety supervision and consultancy compliance.

This combination of experience and qualifications has allowed me to gain an insight into construction safety in a number of countries worldwide, which has benefited me greatly.

Tell us about yourself away from work?

Away from work, I enjoy all the important things in life, switching off and relaxing… I’m a big GAA man which is probably too light a word - ‘fanatical’ is probably more like it! I really enjoy coaching the next generation…love family life and living in the countryside. I’m also into politics and have a keen (understatement) interest in current affairs.

You are speaking at the 2019 CIF Health & Safety Summit. What are you speaking about?

Firstly, I’m delighted to be involved and chairing the morning session of the 2019 CIF Health & Safety summit. Ashview Consultants are involved in projects the length and breadth of the country, and in the UK as well. We see first-hand what works and doesn’t work in the industry with a broad range of projects that we are involved in these areas.

During my work as client representative and PSDP (project supervisor for the design process) during the pre-construction process on some of the country’s best-known projects, we have seen the commitment by design teams, such as architects, structural and civil engineers, and M&E designer and contractors to collaborate on delivery of a safe project, but there is still a huge amount of work to be done in this area.

I’d like to see the standard of collaboration between the PSDP and PSCS (project supervisor during the construction phase) improved so that its seen as a complete safety management approach to a project from initial concept, through design, construction, and future maintenance. This area of the industry can have a substantial positive impact on project delivery if the right approach is put in place early on in the process.

What challenges do you see for health and safety in the construction sector?

In my work in the construction industry, which is across a board spectrum of projects, I get to see how the industry works from both sides - PSDP and PSCS - there’s a trojan effort within the industry to get ‘Health & Safety’ right!

With the continual growth of the industry, we see the need for competent staff in H&S with relevant experience being an issue at the moment, this has been aided by the poor take-up in 3

rd level courses and the lack of people in the industry gaining experience and knowledge.

Where would you like to health and safety in the industry in 10 years’ time?

Ultimately that we ensure that everyone in our industry can go to work knowing that they are in a safe workplace and return home safely is our priority. I believe that this can only improve and is evolving through looking at projects from the initial concept through to completion as part of the overall management of H&S.

Also, construction workers need to be central to this process, at the end of the day they are the people that carry out the management of risk at the coalface of the process, so improving competencies through training and upskilling is critical to achieving a safe place of work.

Paul O’Shea is Chair at the 2019 CIF Health & Safety Summit on Nov 12 in Croke Park.


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