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Safe ground

Winning the RoSPA President’s Award illustrated Ground Control’s commitment to establishing safe working practices and environments for its workers. This aim is more important than ever in supporting staff and clients through the Coronavirus

“No job is so urgent or important that it cannot be done safely.” This is a core value, integrated into everything that Ground Control, which offers a wide range of services including grounds maintenance, landscape construction and design, arboriculture and winter maintenance to commercial properties across the UK, has and will always do for years to come.

“It is a way of life and a culture embedded within the company” says Angelina Sooren, HSQE Director. With this in mind, it is of little surprise that Ground Control was, in March 2020, awarded the (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) RoSPA President’s Award after being awarded 10 consecutive Gold Medals for its high standards and performance in Health and Safety.

The awards scheme is the longest-running of its kind in the UK. It attracts 2,000 entrants from around the world every year, making it one of the most sought-after global accolades in health and safety.

Sooren said of the award: “Winning the President’s Award is the culmination of our decade-long commitment to health and safety. With over 6,000 employees and contractors working across a range of potentially hazardous areas such as arboriculture, landscape construction, fencing and pest control, this award reflects our on-going responsibility in investing in the safety of our people.”

ON THE FRONT LINE
She continues: “Health and Safety is central to everything we do. Our teams deliver essential frontline services in open and dangerous environments such as working next to power and rail lines, keeping the country connected and moving. That’s why last year we spent £600,000 running 20,000 courses and assessments to ensure they’re trained to accurately risk assess and identify potential hazards they’ll face in the field – and to be able to formulate strategies to guarantee safety.

The RoSPA President’s Award is a benchmark for the continued excellence of our health & safety and environment teams. We like to think of them as the invisible glue that that keeps everything together.”

“RoSPA wants every employee, wherever they are, to work safe in the knowledge that they will be going home unharmed and healthy at the end of every day,” said Julia Small, RoSPA’s Head of Qualifications.

“The RoSPA Award winners are vital to help achieve this goal, as by entering they are driving up standards and setting new benchmarks for organisations everywhere.”

The outstanding practices implemented and recognised by RoSPA were also demonstrated by Ground Control’s client, the Environment Agency who awarded Ground Control with an Exemplar Award.

“We take the awards very seriously. Year-on-year we look for our next challenge to improve through innovation and enhance the teams that we work with. We prepare for this all year and plan for years to come. We have divisional champions who deliver safety and encourage Field teams to join our forums. We have regular team meetings whereby we review all of the great practices out there and strive to be industry leaders. This is business as usual for us and we are proud to be able to demonstrate all of the great things we do,” says Sooren.

Over the course of the past 12 months Ground Control has invested heavily and doubled the size of its health and safety budget and has also successfully migrated over to ISO:45001 .

HEALTH AND SAFETY DURING COVID-19
All these health and safety measures have been tested to the core since the COVID-19 outbreak. Ground control is following Government advice as it continues to deliver support services to customers that include electricity, gas, water and data utilities providers, food retailers, government bodies and care services. Because Ground Control staff are still operating in many areas, the team has a full resilience plan which has been rigorously tested and the group (Business Continuity Plan) BCP team meet daily and proactively consult with all employees across the group. This includes always maintaining 2 metre distance at all times, including when travelling, and following enhanced hygiene advice. All of the office-based staff work from home where this is possible, while staff who are in vulnerable groups or live with vulnerable groups are being protected.

“We do not want to put any of our operatives at risk, therefore we have created a number of key action points to include safe operating procedures, risk assessments, work planning guidance documentation and mental health awareness” says Sooren.

GROUND CONTROL HEALTH AND SAFETY ACTIVITIES

  • Clients are invited to attend biodiversity days which include topics designed to reduce public risk e.g. tree surveys to mitigate their duty of care for tree integrity; harmful weed identification and control; disease and pest prevention. They are also invited to attend safety roadshows and educational days.
  • HSQE Managers are members of an array of Safety Groups.
  • Ground Control delivers courses internally and virtually, such as operational activities such as face fit testing / HAVS and Noise / manual handling / dust control.
  • It works with approved third-party training providers providing enhanced training for its teams.
  • Support wellbeing through Mental health first aiders who are on call across the business. Further support via access to on line health care, and applications to promote mindfulness and calm stress levels have also been provided to employees.
  • Offer live presentations, videos, safety messages, site audits / HSQE meeting attendance and company roadshows to reiterate the importance of Health & Safety.
  • Educational days to inspire health, safety and wellbeing.

About Sarah OBeirne

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