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Insights Being a Health and Safety Director at SNC-Lavalin

We conducted a short interview with Mark Warrington, Regional Health and Safety Director at AtkinsRéalis .

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I have recently rejoined AtkinsRéalis after leaving in 2019. I've been in the region for nearly 18 years with my wife and 2 children. I have a dog and enjoy walking and keeping fit.

Tell us about your career journey.

I started out in health and safety in 1995, working for a consultancy in the UK. I'd previously worked in construction, so I understood the industry. I'm also very people focused, so when the opportunity came up to move into a full-time health and safety role, I didn't give it a second thought. I spent about 10 years working in the UK in HSE, where my last project was Wembley Stadium.

What is the role of an HSE director?

The HSE director maintains oversight of the HSE program, ensuring that the necessary systems and procedures are in place to safeguard people and the business. The role of the HSE Director is strategic, looking ahead and planning for improvement. The principles of HSE management are aligned with the way that quality is managed, so the HSE director plans, gets the approval of the business, and then supports implementation through the business leadership. There are lots of other aspects to the role, but in summary, it is all about planning, managing risk, driving improvement, and keeping everyone safe. One of the reasons I rejoined the company is the fact that I know we are a people-focused business and we take HSE seriously.

What is a typical day like for a HSE director?

There is no such thing as a typical day in my opinion. Maybe that's why I like the role so much. The work is very varied and can involve traveling throughout the region. I spend quite a bit of time in the office and the rest of the time in other regional offices and supporting project teams. I like how flexible my job is, as well as how busy it is all the time.

What's the best thing about being a HSE director?

For me, it's the people and the engagement I have with so many different people across the business. I'm also driven to make a difference, and I get a lot of satisfaction knowing that I've been involved in improving working conditions and people's general wellbeing.

What has been the most difficult aspect of your career?

Turning words into action We often use the phrase "walk the talk," and I guess this sums it up. Most companies will say that HSE is important, but their actions don't support this. Another challenge is the widespread use of lagging indicators within industry to measure HSE performance. All too often, companies measure their safety performance on incident rates. The absence of incidents does not necessarily mean you are doing a good job at HSE. At AtkinsRéalis , we use a wide selection of leading HSE indicators, which allows us to promote all the good things that are being done across the business to improve HSE.

What advice could you give to other senior leaders?

not to underestimate the effect that you have on people. Staff will generally look up to their manager and aspire to be more like them. Of course, setting a good example is important, but a short conversation on HSE asking about HSE challenges and supporting staff on an HSE issue sends a powerful message. I'd encourage all our leaders to talk more about HSE and ask questions. be inquisitive and show that they care. We're all hoping to get home safely.

I've been in full-time HSE for nearly 30 years now, and when I started, I asked an experienced colleague for some advice. He replied, "Remember safety is a journey, not a destination." At the time, I understood what they meant but didn't get it. Today, it's much clearer that we are all on a journey, and only by working together can we keep improving health and safety and engineer a better future for our planet and its people.