The Crossrail Project and Women in Health and Safety

by Danielle Stallard

UBM launched a new initiative earlier this year to represent Women in Health and Safety and to make women aware of the many opportunities available to them within the profession. It was introduced at Safety and Health Expo in June and UBM have since taken great strides towards developing the Women in Health and Safety Forum.

Working alongside various organisations and individuals – including Crossrail and Transport for London, the Women in Health and Safety Forum is hoping to give women in the profession a look at how their skills are transferable across different sectors, and hopefully encourage women to try their hand in areas they might not have previously considered.

Three ladies from HSE Recruitment Network were invited to attend a site visit at The Crossrail Project in Farringdon as part of the Women in Health and Safety Forum. The visit was led by Linda Miller, Project Manager for the site, and Steve Hails, Director of Health and Safety for Crossrail. The group of women, a collective of health and safety professionals from varied backgrounds, were given a unique insight into the project and their plans to diversify by attracting women into construction and engineering roles.

The Crossrail project is the largest infrastructure development in Europe and will see a new railway with links from Reading to Essex, via a complex tunnel system under central London. The new line aims to reduce congestion and improve travel time for many London commuters and is due to open in 2018.

Crossrail trains will offer a high capacity and high frequency service, with 24 trains per hour and carrying around 1500 passengers during peak times. The innovative and delicate network intertwines with the London Underground, creating direct links to many stations across the region. This will allow an impressive 10% increase in capacity on the London Underground and an additional 200 million extra journeys each year.

Crossrail are taking bold steps to ensure women have a place on the project and have hopes that in the future, a career in this industry will be considered as prestigious for women as it is in other countries. They have employed a Diversity and Inclusion Officer which they feel will be a key element to their plan to attract not only women, but people of different races and sexual orientation. The role would ordinarily sit within HR but with Crossrail, they will proactively engage with a diverse range of people to encourage them to consider joining the team.

We asked Steve Hails about his Diversity and Inclusion plan and he had this to say, “It is well-publicised that diverse teams are more productive, more efficient and more profitable.  We believe that diverse teams are also safer so we are testing this with a pioneering approach by introducing Diversity & Inclusion into Health & Safety.  The premise is a simple one – we are striving to engender an interdependent culture across Crossrail – a culture where everyone watches out for each other - where your health and safety is of concern to your workmates regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.  We have employed a Diversity & Inclusion Specialist to develop and implement a strategy to identify the potential barriers to health and safety that are created by a lack of diverse and inclusive attitudes or behaviours.  Thereafter we can embark on a specific programme of improvements to create more diverse and inclusive teams and, subsequently, a healthier and safer workforce.”

The Women in Health and Safety Forum and Crossrail are working together to alter the mind-set of health and safety professionals in the UK, striving for a change that is vital to the continued growth of the construction and engineering sectors.

We asked Lauren Tai Sen Choy and Danielle Stallard, two of our consultants (pictured above), what they most enjoyed about their visit to The Crossrail Project.

Lauren - “One of the things I loved the most about this project was their commitment to conservation – Farringdon is transporting all of the rubble and dust that the project has created to Essex in order to create a bird sanctuary. I also found it really interesting that the new building will be integrating with the existing Thameslink station - the station was specifically designed so that the back wall can be lifted out and the new station affixed easily.”

Danielle - “I had such a fantastic day! I personally was fascinated by some of the technology being used, such as the tunnel boring machines. I found the environment on site to be really welcoming, with an amazing introduction from Steve and Linda but also informative tours from site managers, Kris and Duncan, who were clearly passionate about their roles and the progress of the project.”

We hope there are more events, such as this in the future, but in the meantime please refer to the Women in Health and Safety LinkedIn page for more information.

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