"Health and safety is about mindset and mindset is a function of wellbeing"

I would like to see us getting to a point where going home safe in the evening is a certainty but more so where workers feel enriched and fulfilled for their daily experience says Micheál O’ Connor, Vice President & General Manager, Jacobs, Ireland

5th November, 2019
Micheál O’ Connor is Vice President & General Manager, Jacobs, Ireland

What's your name?

Micheál O’ Connor

What position do you hold?

Vice President & General Manager, Jacobs, Ireland

What are your day to day responsibilities?

I am responsible for leading our Advanced Facilities Operations in Ireland and Northern Europe. A business of about 1,100 consultants, architects, engineers and technologists in Ireland and Northern Europe. We are turnkey project-delivery partners for the world’s Advanced Facilities – offering full-service engineering, procurement and construction management solutions for advanced technology industries, universities and governments, across three specialist areas of expertise: Life sciences, electronics and specialised manufacturing.

What is your professional background?

I am a Chartered Quantity Surveyor and Past President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland. I am eight years with Jacobs having worked with construction firms for the previous nineteen years.

Tell us about yourself away from work?

Although I’ve been living in Cork since 1992 I hail from Kerry and like most Kerry people, Gaelic football plays a big part in my life. I like cycling, swimming, a small amount of running and golf. I am married to Nuala and have three grown up children; Tony, Tara and Kayleigh.

Tell us something very few people know about you?

I am a seventh son!

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

I am part of a panel discussion on inspiring and motivating business leaders to drive improvement in developing a strong health and safety culture.

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

The challenges are many and varied depending on project type, but the challenge we see on our projects are primarily around the sub-tiering of contractors. The safety culture tends to dissipate the further down the tier structure one goes. Another challenge is mental health. Within Jacobs, we’ve made it a goal to train 1,500 positive mental health champions around our business by 2020 and are developing a plan for measuring employees’ well-being to address this serious global problem.

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

I would like to see health and safety underpinned by a positive culture. We are beginning to see positive signs across the industry, but I would like to see this gather pace. Health and safety is about mindset and mindset is a function of wellbeing. I would like to see us getting to a point where going home safe in the evening is a certainty but more so where workers feel enriched and fulfilled for their daily experience.

Micheál O’ Connor is speaking at the CIF’s Health & Safety Summit on Nov 12 in Croke Park. See www.cifsafety.ie for full details.

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