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Cultural Shift Needed for Health & Safety

What’s your name?

Fergal O’Byrne

What position do you hold?

Head of Business Excellence Certification at the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI)

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

I manage a division of staff who undertake third party certification audits of organisations to the requirements of various international standards. An example of this would include auditing to the new Occupational Health and Safety standard, ISO 45001.

What is your professional background?

I hold a master’s degree in civil engineering and a post-graduate diploma in occupational health and safety. I also hold qualifications in environmental management, European law and most recently, social compliance auditing.

Before becoming Head of Business Excellence Certification, I worked as an NSAI auditor, mainly in the manufacturing and construction areas. This allowed me to experience organisational compliance in Ireland and elsewhere, but mainly in the US.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

Outside of NSAI, I cycle and climb mountains with family members. Last June, we reached the top of the French Alps, and we hope to do Kilimanjaro next year.

Tell us something very few people know about you

I once ran the Dublin city marathon – I know, hard to believe now.

You are speaking at the 2018 CIF Health & Safety Summit. What are you speaking about?

I am delighted to be chairing the morning sessions of the 2018 CIF Health & Safety Summit. NSAI audits organisations the length and breadth of Ireland and beyond. We get a unique insight into the trojan work organisations do to ensure their staff, sub-contractors and the public are always safe. Organisations find so much value in group case studies and industry knowledge, and I hope to share my insights with the morning speakers.

What challenges do you see for health and safety in the construction sector?

During NSAI on-site audits, we witness many construction companies achieving best practices in the normal Monday to Friday working week. But there is still work to be done. We require a cultural shift to embed occupational health and safety into everyday site operations. Occupational health and safety best practice management systems must become completely indistinguishable from the project manager, main contractor, sub-contractor or supplier, to after hours, night or weekend work.

Where would you like to see health and safety in the industry in 10 years’ time?

Our goal must be that everyone comes home safe every day. We must instil a belief that every accident is avoidable. Fatalities and injuries must become so seldom that if they do happen, we should be shocked and view them as simply unacceptable in the workplace.

This is the transcript of an interview with Fergal O’Byrne, Head of Business Excellence Certification at the National Standards Authority of Ireland, taken from The Sunday Business Post.

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