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Exclusive Interview with Mike Eady - HSE Director @ EcoWorld London

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12 months ago

by Liam Squires | Director @ Heathgate Search

Exclusive Interview with Mike Eady - HSE Director @ EcoWorld London

How did you first become interested in the Health and Safety field?

I first started my career as an Engineer within the Automotive, Manufacturing and Distribution sectors. 

I then joined Royal Mail as the Head of Network Management where I was responsible for the fleet and distribution network across Rail, Road and Air which was a 24/7 operation. 

It suddenly made me realise that there were a lot of heavy vehicles on the road day and night thundering around and it made me think a lot about the safety of the drivers who were ultimately my team members and also the safety of the public.

Every year sadly there were collisions that caused people terrible injuries and loss of life. It started making me think about safety and how we could improve the safety outcomes for the drivers. 

A lot of rules and regulations were in place but what you couldn’t control was the behaviour of the drivers, so it made me realise that it was critical to positively influence driver behaviour by making them feel more valued, caring for their well-being, providing high quality training, better route planning and good quality vehicles and facilities. This started to change behaviours and make a real difference as the Royal Mail drivers felt valued by their managers and supervisors.

Was there someone who inspired you?

Yes there was. At Royal Mail, postmen used to ride bikes and a lot of them suffered injuries. We were looking at ways to reduce the number of injuries by providing PPE, cycling training and even redesigning the bikes. We couldn’t really make any inroads into the number of injuries caused by bikes until a new MD joined Royal Mail and suggested getting rid of the bikes completely. This initially had resistance however with safety sometimes you can’t just fiddle around the edges, sometimes you must make complete changes to have a real and positive impact. 

In safety, you must be bold, have a clear vision and attack the problem and not just the circumstance around the problem. This always stuck with me. Sometimes, you must take away the hazard completely.

What has been your journey in the Health and Safety industry to date?

Shortly after, I progressed to Logistics Director where I was responsible for 18,000 people across the largest operational unit in the organisation. 

During my time as the Logistics Director at Royal Mail, I met with the then H&S Director at Wates. After a thorough conversation and a round of interviews, he said that he would love to bring my way of thinking into the construction industry. I then joined him in the construction world and applied what I had learnt to date to a different discipline. We rolled out behavioural change across several projects which had a positive impact and transformed the existing welfare arrangements and provided high quality PPE.

Rather than just using the traditional way of audits and paperwork we started talking to staff, listening to them, making them feel valued and the injury rates started to fall. We also let them know that they could also influence the safety outcome and that they had an employer who really cared about them. This resulted in a very positive outcome from the safety point of view. 

Then the opportunity came up to work at UPP. They had previously had a prosecution from the HSE and they were adamant that this couldn't happen again and wanted to create a safer world for all staff and members of the public.

I was employed as the Health and Safety Director at UPP and also sat on the board as the Statutory Director. I attended all board meetings with the CEO and share holders and had a real influence. I took what I had learnt at Royal Mail and Wates and deployed it on a larger scale to UPP.

I also employed a creative agency to develop material for safety that was really engaging. I didn't want your typical safety material to scare people, I wanted to make make people think of their jobs in a different way. 

I set out a vision to transform safety at UPP.

I carried out an in-depth analysis and found out that the biggest cause of injuries were cuts to the hands and slips trips and falls. Initially, the incumbent team didn't know what the biggest cause was however after forensic analysis and asking why, why, why I got to the route of the problem. We had a very large facilities team and multiple cleaners cleaning sinks in student kitchens. Broken glass, knives and razors caused cuts to the cleaners hands.

Dynamic risk assessments were rolled out and I made it clear to not clean the sinks unless it was safe to do so and I gave the cleaners the licence to do what was right. We also provided appropriate footwear as they didn't previously have it. Suddenly the number of cuts and grazes and slips, trips and falls plummeted.

On the construction side of UPP, I shared my way of lateral thinking and behavioural change to make a positive impact.

What are your current responsibilities?

I have recently supported Health and Safety projects with Great Portland Estates and Open Reach and currently oversee all Health and Safety requirements for EcoWorld.

What is the most important aspect of Health and Safety?

You must change behaviours and ensure that everyone looks out for each other and give the licence to employees to report back and not act in an unsafe way.

How do you stay up-to-date on the latest developments and best practices in the industry? 

I’m a bookworm and I follow authors within the safety industry. A book I highly recommend is called “Next Generation Safety Leadership” by Clive Lloyd. I also attend many forums and Health and Safety industry events as well as regularly catching up with trusted peers from the industry. We get to share our challenges and best practice. I also follow many helpful pages on Linkedin and check industry websites.

Another author I recommend is Sidney Decker who has published several books on safety and human behaviour. 

What is a standout career achievement and what safety challenges currently present themselves post pandemic?

Yes, a standout achievement is the work at UPP. I significantly reduced the accident and injury rate and achieved 5 successive ROSPA Awards and gained recognition across the industry and from our University partners that we were doing a really good job. By the time I left, it was a real sense of mission accomplished. The position as Health and Safety Director at UPP gave me opportunity to do everything I wanted to do in one place. Build my own team, structure it how I wanted it, get all the policies written, it was an absolute clean sheet of paper and UPP could start from a fresh slate in a really interesting industry which had everything from construction to maintenance to fm, so yeah it was a real stand out career achievement. 

Post pandemic 

The safety challenges have moved from physical to mental and I think we as employers need to do a lot to reach out to people, when they are working from home. if you are living in a small flat it’s not so much fun. It might sound nice if you have plenty of space around you, but it isn’t nice for everybody. Some people are extroverts and they get their energy from being with people. Working from home long-term doesn't work for everyone and you must consider the mental health of your staff, which is much greater now post pandemic than it was pre pandemic. 

How do you see the future of Health and Safety evolving?

I think the industry will split. The very traditional health and safety industry will carry on as it was however I believe that a few other industries will peel off and embrace emerging technologies. The emerging tech will be able to do a lot of the administrative duties so that H&S professionals can focus more on coaching and training and be released from the shackles of their desks.  It’s a great opportunity for those wishing to embrace it.  

Anything else you wish to add to inspire the next gen?

A career in Health and Safety is a really good opportunity to make a real difference to people’s lives and you can be a force for good.

Would you recommend Heathgate Search? 

Absolutely. Liam has successfully supported me with Health and Safety recruitment.

“Liam is a highly professional specialist recruiter in the HSE space.

No hesitation in recommending Liam” – Mike Eady

Heathgate Search is the leading Health and Safety Recruitment Agency in the UK and Ireland. View our latest HSEQ opportunities by following Heathgate Search on LinkedIn and by visiting www.heathgatesearch.co.uk

Are you struggling to secure exceptional Health and Safety talent, get in contact with a member of the specialist recruitment team today, by calling 0207 459 4073 or by emailing info@heathgatesearch.co.uk

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