In this #PeopleFirst feature we speak to Mick Fahey, Kirby’s EHS Manager for Ireland and the UK. We catch up ahead of Construction Safety Week 2022, as the team gears up to deliver events, focus group sessions and training as part of the awareness campaign by the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) of Ireland.
“Construction Safety Week with the CIF has an important place in our calendar at Kirby. This year’s themes demonstrate the range of areas where safety plays an essential role and the close links between them,” says Mick, who has worked with Kirby for the last five years.
“It is the culmination of everything we do across the year. It gives us the chance to refocus and set our minds to the future of safety at Kirby. This year we will reaffirm our commitment to Zero Harm, caring for people and making sure everyone goes home safe at the end of the day. And going home safe doesn’t just mean physical safety, we have a keen focus on the health and wellbeing of our teams,” says Mick who, alongside our Health and Wellbeing Committee, oversees and co-ordinates 35 Mental Health First Aiders across our sites and offices.
“Protecting good mental health and wellbeing is a commitment close to my own heart”, says Mick, who found his calling after losing his friend at the age of 20 to a work-related accident. “We were the same age. It took me a long time to address his passing and the affect it had on my own mental health. I am very open with my teams and our people; they can talk about their struggles too. I can wholeheartedly say that if I had dealt with my grief earlier, I would have avoided some very dark days.”
Mick has had a varied career. He was a Trooper in the Irish Army’s First Armoured Car Squadron for 10 years, and then moved into construction, first as a Crane Operator and later a Foreman. One of his proudest work achievements was delivering Sokoto State University in Nigeria.
“More than 120 local people worked with my team and I to deliver that project, we offered training and implemented H&S protocols and procedures. When I left, I knew that, not only had I delivered a learning institution that would create more opportunities for people in state, but that every single person who worked on that site left with a skill that would allow them to earn a living and support their families,” says Mick.
Leaving a legacy through training and development is part of Kirby’s DNA, and something Mick is incredibly proud of. Each of our EHS team members is given extensive training and benefits from Kirby’s mentoring programme, as do the team’s placement students. This dedication to investing in people is already paying dividends, with last year’s placement students joining the team full time following their graduation.
“New starters in our team and our EHS graduates go on a six month’s training programme to learn how to be a Kirby EHS Advisor, with their managers providing constant coaching and support. We have a very positive safety culture at Kirby, and we make sure that everyone comes on the journey with us. Whether that is our subcontractors, our wider teams or new starters. We’re all on the same page,” he adds.
We ask him what sets Kirby apart in terms of safety, he says: “It’s in our values. People, Safety, Quality, Delivery, and Value. I have never known a company invest so much time and money in its people, in terms of training and resources. This and the Kirby Way of doing things mean that we safely deliver for our clients again and again.”
CIF Construction Safety Week is a national awareness campaign aimed at promoting positive safety and health to the more than 150,000 construction workers in Ireland, industry stakeholders and clients.
This year, the campaign will span October, including a focus week for Lighthouse Club’s Help Inside a Hard Hat campaign (from 10th October) and five individual focus days across the following two weeks.
“If people were to take anything from the Construction Safety Week, it should be the importance of minding your health and safety, not just for you, but for your family, friends, colleagues and the people around you. We have a collective responsibility to make sure we all go home safe at the end of the day, but that starts with the individual – with you – by making good choices and having a Zero Harm mindset we will ensure a healthier, happier and safer industry that delivers for everyone.”
To find out more about CIF Construction Safety Week and Kirby’s approach to safety watch our video on https://vimeo.com/755091459.