Gavin looks after the health and safety, and quality control for Ardmac’s Cleanroom and Fit-out Divisions.
Gavin has been with Ardmac for over 5 years. Prior to this he worked in front line construction for many years. His first responsibility at Ardmac was to deliver our ‘Safety First’ programme and ethos. The Safety-First programme begins at induction stages for our directly employed teams and in the early stages of tender, bids and presentations on introduction to our clients and subcontractors. Gavin can often be found presenting to our clients about our Safety-First approach to health and safety. Following on from that, Gavin is of course responsible for effective delivery of all health and safety requirements. His main aim is to ensure everyone gets home safely at the end of each day.
Gavin says, “people need to realise that they matter to us, and our respect always principle is paramount to delivering safety first. Ardmac UK SHEQ Dept will undoubtedly expand as the business does, especially where other divisions of Ardmac are growing, it is a very exciting time for us.”
Gavin works alongside safety professional Stephen Teare and between them they assist in the delivery of the Safety-First programme and wider health and safety strategy.
Learning on the job
Gavin’s background was in large scale construction projects and fit-out. For the past 5 years he has been growing his knowledge of safety within the cleanroom construction side of the business.
“For me the challenge was to get the experience from the contractors’ side as well as the supply chain side to enable me to apply the right safety principles. The approach can be different from sector to sector, so we’re down on-site working face to face with people, because it’s the best way to learn. To best advise people on H&S you must take time to understand the buildability, sequence, challenges of construction and installation.”
One of the key parts of Gavin’s role is in dealing with Ardmac’s supply chain in terms of safety, he believes that you are only as strong as your weakest link, so he has been building relationships with our suppliers to ensure that our health and safety standards are upheld across the entire supply chain. Delivering training workshops, H&S updates, and supporting the supply chain.
Winning hearts and minds
Gavin can undoubtedly come across some resistance at times, but the right way to do things is the safe way and one of his key skills is in winning the hearts and minds of those that he works with and ensuring that they are on board with what he is trying to achieve.
This can make his position challenging at times, but he says, “our priority is safety first, we respect people and it’s upper most in our priorities on site, a person’s health and safety is not compromised.”
Both his strength in character and his life experiences make Gavin an ideal man to drive home the safety message. He has worked as a labourer on many constructions sites since he was 14, so he understands first-hand the challenges that someone on site could face. He has also endured the results of poor on site safety himself, something that gives him the drive and determination to ensure it doesn’t happen ‘on his watch.’
Gavin was offered a professional football contract after school but had an overwhelming desire to join the Royal Marines. He turned down the footballing contracts and signed up to a rigorous training regime and after two years he successfully joined.
Unfortunately, a severe injury to his cruciate ligament and cartilage, endured whilst playing football for them, sent Gavin back to square one with his training. As he tried to get back to fighting fitness, he had another injury relapse and had to be medically discharged.
Gavin said, “It was a really tough time for me. Of course, I had my sights set on being in the marines & then suddenly I had to get myself back on track and into civilian life. It wasn’t easy to refocus.”
Gavin started with a two-year course of A Levels and laboured on construction sites in plastering, scaffolding, and general labouring. He worked with the AMEC McAlpine Group JV building the M60 motorway in Manchester and became a union safety rep which is where he had his first on-the-job accident.
“I should have been working with someone but I was trying to do something on my own. I incurred a severed right index finger. Fortunately, they were able to operate and save the finger, but it was then that I realised that I didn’t want this to happen to anyone else.”
Gavin paid his way through night school studying a Health, Safety & Environmental Diploma at Nottingham Trent University and went on to work with CST, a H&S division of McAlpine Group, where his passion for health and safety flourished under the mentorship of his manager.
“He helped me use the passion I had for health and safety, and my work ethic to make a difference in my career. I was uniquely placed to do this because I relate well to the guys in construction, I still use my accident as a motivator to help others” says Gavin.
Gavin went on to run his own health and safety consultancy for 8 years, working with his contacts in the industry until Ardmac approached him and here we are today.
Over 22 years in the industry, the general approach to health and safety has improved. Gavin recalls the lack of PPE and protocols throughout his working life and can see the unfortunate side effects of that even today. It drives his passion to ensure that people don’t have injuries or carry any long-term illness as a result of coming to work. This underpins Ardmac’s philosophy tenfold and so together makes Gavin an excellent asset for the business.
“I genuinely care about the people here; I would take it personally if anything was to happen to them. It’s my job to engage and help them find a safer way of operating. I have been there & have injuries to show for it.”
He continues, “Ardmac really care about my role which I think is quite unique. When your supply chain family members contact you to thank you for looking after their loved ones, you know you are doing the right thing.”
Gavin’s working day
Gavin’s working day is really varied as you might imagine, not only with different safety requirements for the different divisions, but he can also be tasked with direct client or supplier liaison.
His passion for health and safety helps Ardmac drive the message home to our clients, employees, subcontractors, and supply chain. More tactically this can mean running operational audits, delivering training, risk assessments and strategic projects from inception to handover.
Gavin says, “it can be a very ‘reactive’ department and at times we might not be the most popular people in the world. Unfortunately, people are programmed to cut corners but that’s where accidents happen, so it’s our job to make sure that things are done properly, that means we’re ‘hands on’, we won’t just stand by and watch if people are putting themselves and or others at risk.”
With Gavin’s straight talking, down to earth and relatable nature, he is perfectly suited to his role with Ardmac and a great influencer of working safely.