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Keep it simple and collaborate - an HSQE Manager's advice for building safely and sustainably

March 5, 2018

Maycroft’s HSQE Manager Denise brings a unique perspective on HSQE, developed from a diverse career spanning geothermal power, mining and milk production and processing. We spoke to Denise to hear her aspirations for further improving our HSQE performance and her recommendations for building safely and sustainably in a pressured market.  

You have worked in a broad range of industries, from mining to geothermal power to milk production and processing. What learnings will you bring from these previous roles that will help us further lift our performance in HSQE?

Ultimately it doesn’t really matter what the industry is, the process for HSQE management and performance is the same - keeping people safe and going home in one piece every day.

All of my experiences have taught me how to talk to and engage with people in a way that ensures everyone has a better understanding of their role, and what we can do as individuals to keep ourselves and those that we impact safe. One person really can make a difference.


What are you learning from Maycroft?

I’ve learnt that no two projects are the same, so you have to adapt really quickly to the different needs and requirements. I’ve always been solutions focused, so the diversity of our projects and their unique challenges is enabling me to hone this skill even more.

Before joining Maycroft I had a very basic understanding of traffic management but I’ve learned a lot more about it (since joining). I have completed the training to become a Level 1 Traffic Controller and STMS and am enjoying the challenge of implementing effective traffic management plans.


What do you think are the main challenges facing companies in relation to HSQE management now and into the future?

I think it’s about keeping it simple, without losing focus on what’s important. HSQE doesn’t have to be a big beast with lots of paperwork. It’s about getting the basics right and doing what we do to the best of our ability.

It’s easy to just focus on housekeeping, slips, trips and falls. But to be more effective we should be focusing on: 

  • Critical risk activities such as working at height, basically the things that are going to hurt us
  • Engaging our workers in health and safety management. 

 If we get this right, the small stuff will sort itself out organically.


What is the most successful HSQE initiative or system you have set up at another organisation?

At the Te Mihi Geothermal Power Station I was involved in developing a safety incentive scheme involving weekly safety walks covering a range of work areas, activities and risks. Each safety walk received a score. The scores were tallied at the end of each month and if the whole site met the target score, the entire workforce received a reward. We shared the outcomes and lessons learned with the site teams every month or earlier if appropriate.

The great thing about this system was that the project team, the client and subcontractors were all involved in undertaking the safety walks. It was a real joint effort.


Sustainability is becoming increasingly important for construction companies. How can we reduce our footprint? 

A few simple things can go a long way. Effective recycling is a good start. For Maycroft, this is a new initiative to be implemented and won’t just be about glass, plastic and paper but about effective management of site materials such as scrap metal and wood off cuts.

We’ll also look at introducing more eco-friendly purchasing decisions, community tree planting days, carpooling and becoming more energy efficient.


The current pressured construction market means everyone is stretched. How can we ensure we build safely, on time and on budget?

The only way to build safely is to work together as a team – to collaborate. As Kiwis we tend to just get on with it and not ask for help. We need to know that it’s ok to ask for help, that it’s not a weakness.

In a practical sense, there are times when slowing down or taking the time to just stop, refocus, communicate our concerns, breathe and take stock of where we’re at, means that we achieve a result faster and more safely. Faster is not always better.

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