Interview – Samantha Johnson,Executive General Manager, HSEQ, McConnell Dowell

A pretty long title that doesn’t really capture everything!  Working at McConnell Dowell involves engagement in multi-discipline construction projects globally.  McConnell Dowell’s construction footprint covers Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands and South East Asia so heading up the HSEQ requirements across all regions is quite a task.  In addition to the usual HSEQ activities, I also am responsible for sustainability as well as insurance risk matters.

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

There are always multiple challenges facing safety leaders, and these apply regardless of geographical location.  The biggest challenge I face right now is ensuring a decent level of education around risk and safety for all workers on our projects.  We are continually working with our project teams to instill at least basic HSEQ knowledge and principles – whilst this is easier to do with our direct labor, passing on these essential skills to our subcontractor workforce can be difficult.  We will often train a team from a subcontractor one day only to find that we have a different team turn up on site the next day and the education process has to commence from scratch again.

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

The trend to put a lot more tools online or as apps on phones is a huge step forward and will continue to increase over the next 12 months.  These handy apps mean that we can roll out key information and basic HSEQ training to all workers – even our subcontractor workforce can access the information prior to commencing work on our sites and have a feel for the importance we place on HSEQ on all of our projects.  We are using apps which allow us to provide a platform for communication of training films, permit to work systems and general induction information.  It is imperative that we continue to find ways to distribute safety knowledge in a format that is easily accessed, interactive and understood.

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

As for the best piece of advice I have received – ‘be in control, not controlling’.