Barry O’Brien is an Associate Director, EHS at Kirby Group Engineering, a firm he joined in 2005. The Limerick headquartered company has enjoyed swift growth in recent years.
It now directly employs over 1,300 people across Europe and recorded a turnover of more than €400million in 2021. Barry has over 25 years of experience in construction and engineering and he is relentless when it comes to continuous improvement in maintaining people’s safety and protecting the environment.
Last year, he and his team began developing a Zero Harm culture for Kirby.
“It’s not a new concept in itself, but we wanted to create our own version. We always devise policies and methods that work for us. We say we do things ‘The Kirby Way’ so that they apply specifically to our people, our clients and projects,” he says.
“At Kirby we value our people, their safety, and wellbeing. Zero Harm is not simply about training people to behave a certain way on site or in the office. Our senior management team is driving the process and we believe that by demonstrating care for people and the environment, you will get everyone’s buy-in.”
Barry cites the example of Kirby’s safety handbook as a small but important example of the dedicated approach.
“We maintain a strong focus on making communication as clear as possible and we’re always conscious that the understanding of safety protocols is crucial. As we’ve grown, we’ve developed and benefitted from a wonderfully diverse workforce.
“We publish our handbook in 11 different languages and it is designed to be easy to understand, visual and simple to follow. We supply it in hard copy format so that people can keep it on them and refer to it at work, at home or share with their family.”
Another key element of Zero Harm is minding our people.
“We take pride in having a long-established team dedicated to supporting the health and wellness of our people,” says Barry. This represents the kind of approach that Barry O’Brien believes helps Kirby along the road towards a Zero Harm reality.
“I believe Zero Harm is an aspiration that’s going to drive us forward. Our ultimate goal every day is to send people home safe and healthy and to reduce harm to the environment. By taking the Kirby approach to this policy, I’m confident it’s a goal we will achieve.”