QHSE: WORKING SAFELY THROUGHOUT THE PANDEMIC
We’ve taken a proactive approach to the Covid-19 pandemic – it’s a reflection of the way we work day-in, day-out, looking after our team, looking after our clients’ colleagues and keeping projects running to schedule.
The impact of Covid-19 has not left us, nor should it. Precautions have been high on everyone’s agenda over the last 12 months, and these have affected us and our partners and projects in many ways. For World Day for Safety and Health at Work 2021 the International Labour Organisation has set a focus on leveraging the content of Occupational Safety and Health systems to mitigate and prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the workplace.
Over the last 12 months or so, Osprey has looked at every aspect of the services we provide, and we’d like to share some insights about our Quality, Health, Safety and Environment Management System. It’s something we’re continually developing to provide the same excellent levels of service that our clients have come to expect.
In early March 2020 Osprey were engaged in a number of projects. These included the transport and installation of a heat and power cogeneration plant in South Wales, the installation of a multiple structure bridge on the A45 carriageway in Coventry and multiple shipments and offloading between Greece and Cyprus of over 2,500 steel pipe sections for the Karish gas field.
When Covid-19 struck, most companies, including ourselves, were left wondering how they could continue to operate – bearing in mind our close-contact operations.
- We took a step back to review our operations and use our risk based approach to assess our work, looking at how we could put mitigations measure in place to ensure the safety of our stakeholders.
- We invested time in absorbing the guidance set out by the UK Government and NHS, making sure we understood their expectations. We also looked at other authoritative sources of information.
- And we developed and integrated new controls and safe systems of work to safeguard our stakeholders, stopping the spread of Covid-19 and ensuring we could deliver the same level of services to our clients.
We developed, shared, and implemented a Covid-19 risk management plan that was appropriate for everyone working with Osprey. Some of the steps we took included basic provisions that are in place everywhere, such as providing suitable PPE – face coverings, nitrile gloves and hand sanitiser. But we acted quickly to secure supplies, giving everyone confidence as fast as possible.
We minimised social interaction and encouraged digital working through Microsoft Teams and other video conferencing platforms, not just for our office staff but where possible for in-the-field teams. And we also found new ways of working that could use mechanical aids and additional engineering design work, thus minimising physical team work – these adaptations to our work methods have proven to deliver additional levels of safety, which we’ll be adopting and sustaining post-Covid 19.
We send out regular Covid-19 communications and updates to keep all employees informed and, in some ways most importantly, we also took steps to support mental wellbeing through regular check-ins, lunch and learn meetings and additional guidance.
By using the risk based approach of our QHSE Management System, which is fundamental to the way we work, we were able to identify the risks that Covid-19 posed to our activities and what mitigation measures were required to manage these risks.
Much of what we do requires teamwork. It may involve project planning in our offices or rigging a crane in a port, but it all entails working closely. Social distancing meant we had to review our ways of working to avoid this. By relying upon the experience and ingenuity of our personnel we were able to come up with solutions to work around this by using additional engineering designs, mechanical aids and preparation works as well as providing suitable PPE from the early offset to prevent close working wherever possible.
In addition, by expanding on the content of our QHSE Management System and developing our safe systems of work to be Covid-19 conscious, including implementation of Covid-19 risk management plans, we were able to demonstrate to our clients we had pro-active measures in place to safely continue to deliver on our projects.
Mitigation measures are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. But reacting to the pandemic this way – with a measured, people-focused, sustainable risk-mitigation approach – has enabled us to complete a large number of projects over the last 12 months, such as the transport and installation of the largest single structure bridge in the UK, the float-off of the most powerful tidal turbine in the world and delivery of the first marine abnormal loads to Hinkley Point C.