Interview – Lynda McMeekan, EH&S Director, UTC, Chubb Fire and Security Services

Lynda McMeekan is EH&S Director, for UTC, Chubb Fire and Security Services across Australasia.

Having been with the organisation since 2009, Lynda leads all aspects of the Environment, Health and Safety Management Systems providing strategic and operational support to the Senior Leadership Team and direction to the EH&S Managers who support the Fire Safety, Security and Monitoring business units for Australia and New Zealand.

Lynda has spent over 18 years as an Environment, Health and Safety professional specializing in Accident Prevention, Incident Investigation, Emergency Response, Auditing and EHS Management Systems.  She commenced her studies at Murdoch University, Perth WA in 1998, and has a Post Graduate Dip in OSH.  Previous to working with UTC Chubb, Lynda worked as an OSH Professional at the Rio Tinto Iron Ore mines in the Pilbara & Kimberley, WA, with extensive experience in both open cut and underground for Operations and Construction. Lynda is also a practicing Justice of Peace and Member of the Children’s Court in Western Australia for 20 years.

What do you feel are the biggest challenges that safety leaders are currently faced with within their business?

Emerging challenges that safety leaders are currently facing, not only in my organisation but across Australia, I would have to bracket as FFW & Mental Health & Well-being.   This has been fueled by the stress we put on our employees at all levels, tasked to do more with less and the pressures to meet the bottom line. Gone are the 9:5 working days, with digital devices always in hand and unfortunately, this is also accelerated through the pace of change within our society and the evolution of technology and innovation, whilst regulatory compliance demands have intensified the pressures facing safety leaders today.

As a safety leader, what do you feel businesses continue to get wrong when it comes to their Health and Safety strategy?

In my opinion, there are still organisations that are very driven by statistics, with a strong ‘blame culture’ rather than having visible safety that addresses the core values and principles that should drive a positive change, embedding a health and safety strategy whereby there is a partnership with operational leaders, safety professionals and employees.

What are the latest trends and behaviours you predict will be surfacing on the market over the coming 12 months?

  • Technology based devices will continue to mature as more organisations migrate across to a paperless system, however, as privacy laws becomes more stringent this  could present limitations of the use on electronic devices and hence organisations may face the risk of data in the cloud not meeting regulatory compliance.
  • Challenges for Safety professionals, will always be the measurement of Lead and Lag indicators, however, with the on boarding of the contemporary Health and Safety professional, competitive pressures in the global economy are pushing companies to ensure safety professionals rethink how they can contribute as stakeholders, by adding value and becoming a lot more visible, rethinking our roles, responsibilities and approaches in order to respond to these growing trends.

What is the best piece of advice you have received within your job over the years?

“Never lose your passion, and own your career”! If you really want to embrace in a positive safety culture in your business, then look at it more like a relay race, if one person drops the baton then everyone in some way shall be affected. To change behaviours listen to the key stakeholders and look below the surface of what your safety risks really are.

What is one key takeaway you hope our OHS audience leaves with after hearing your presentation on site?

It is inevitable the safety world is moving with times, from clipboards to electronic devices, however, don’t be in a rush when introducing modern technology into your business, not one size fits all! Be sure that the electronic safety system you chose is the right fit for your organisation and then the rewards should be instantaneous.