Griffin Brothers Contracting Ltd: How Safe-T-Cert helps build health and safety standards on site

by | Jun 18, 2021

A progressive company that’s grown organically in recent years, Co. Kerry’s Griffin Brothers Contracting invests in people and processes to ensure it stays at the forefront of industry health and safety regulations.

“We like to think we are leaders not followers,” says the Castleisland-based company’s health & safety manager Tomás Foley. “We are an A-graded company in the Safe-T-Cert System since 2014 as a result of the huge effort put in by each employee and subcontractor.”

The company has been recognised by the National Irish Safety Organisation. “In 2020 we were honoured with one of the top awards, taking home the President’s Award for best medium sized company in Ireland,” Foley adds. “This is an achievement we are extremely proud of. We never rest on our laurels and are always improving on the way we do things.”

Griffin Brothers Contracting first applied for the Safe-T-Cert accreditation in 2007. “It has been instrumental in focusing us on developing our safety management system to a high standard. Over the years the targets have given us the tools to continue to build and improve health and safety management systems and more importantly health and safety standards on our sites.”

What safety practice has the most impact?

Good planning and organisation for new projects is a key focus. “Once successful with a tender, an early site review is arranged with our Health & Safety department and project management team,” Foley says. “We’ve developed a ‘site set up manual’, which provides guidelines to our project managers on the standards we require.”

Key objectives included public safety risks being managed and controlled, sites being fully secure to ensure no unauthorised personnel, good welfare facilities for employees, as well as a good visual appearance on sites – a good first impression is vital and sets the tone and culture. Low environment impact is also important so waste segregation and recycling is encouraged. Set-up controls are continually monitored, upgraded and maintained.

Others benefits of the Cert, Foley says, have been an improved scoring in Health & Safety pre-qualification for tenders – helping to secure high profile and prestigious projects. “Having Safe-T-Cert provides proof that as an organisation we take health and safety seriously, giving confidence to existing clients as well as potential new clients. It has really helped our corporate image.”

When it comes to technology, the company utilises a cloud-based management system on all projects. This includes a time efficient and compliance friendly health and safety management system to allow sub-contractors to upload relevant information.

Working at height

The firm’s biggest safety concern, and a huge concern within the industry, is working at heights. As a result, robust control measures are in place to manage risk. Examples include ensuring scaffolding and safety netting contractors undergo robust approval before being appointed. Regular inspections are also carried out.

“We have also rolled out training to ensure ‘working at height’ and other high-risk activities are clear focus points for our supervisors,” Foley says. “All working at height must be risk assessed, contractors under our control must ensure they use the safest means possible, if not work will not be allowed to commence.”

Covid has been a particular concern over the past 18 months. “It has been a very challenging time but overall the industry has come up with good guidance and controls to ensure our work crews can safely return to work,” Foley adds. “We have fully embraced the CIF SOP manual to deal with this pandemic and developed an overall Covid-19 plan.”

These include minimising numbers on projects, mandatory mask wearing and a system to ensure no worker attends site unless they are in compliance with government guidelines.

“We have looked at prefabrication of materials in an attempt to minimise numbers during this period,” Foley says. “And on sites there is a rigorous cleaning programme in place, additional wash stations and one-way systems where possible.”

The appointment of Covid-19 compliance officers and regular communication with site workers to address any concerns are also key strategies.

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