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Interview: John Nolan, Transguard Group

John Nolan reveals how TRANSGUARD won Dubai Airports' safety award

John Nolan
John Nolan

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The journey to Transguard Group nabbing the ‘Overall Excellence in Safety - Contractor Award’ at the Dubai Airports Health Safety Environment Excellence Awards began two years ago.

In January 2011, Transguard formed a new health and safety team to raise awareness and oversee the HSE strategy. Since its inception, the number of Transguard man-hours worked at Dubai International Airport increased from 9.5 million in 2011 to 11.1 million in 2012, however the number of lost time injuries actually fell from 32 to 28, eliminating serious injuries completely.

John Nolan, deputy managing director, Transguard Group, says that prior to 2011, the firm had an H&S team in each of its business units and on every project. However, the company eventually revised that policy.

“What we decided to do was create one over-arching corporate H&S team that could manage and direct related issues throughout the company, as well as holistically monitor and measure trends. It also meant that we could more easily integrate and align our H&S policies with our quality management systems, CSR initiatives and our corporate business strategy,” explains Nolan.

Key parts of the strategy included the formation of a new cross-business health & safety committee, a mandate for the top 80 managers within the group to gain IOSH ‘Managing Safely’ certification and for the entire management team to be given measurable H&S personal objectives. In addition, some 80 volunteer HSE champions were identified and trained to influence their colleagues to improve safety in the workplace.

Nolan adds: “The key responsibility of the new team was to develop a corporate H&S culture across our group. A new H&S Action Committee was formed which not only identified and rewarded HSE champions, it also introduced a number of initiatives such as tool box talks, safety audits, safety week and H&S workshops, to improve awareness among our staff.”

He continues: “In addition, all accidents are thoroughly investigated to determine the contributing factors and the root cause. The lessons learned are put together in a learning bulletin and used as a tool in the previously mentioned tool box talks which are communicated to all staff during training sessions and displayed on HSE notice boards.”

He says that Transguard Group faces no challenges while trying to improve levels of health and safety on-site at Dubai Airports. “H&S is absolutely integral to Dubai Airports. It was more a case of aligning H&S policies and procedures and conducting practical training sessions where necessary so that all project team members, both internal and external, were fully briefed on the operational standards required.

“In some cases when working on other projects, we have had to demonstrate the cost implications of accidents, as well as suggesting that the customer’s leadership team undergo IOSH managing safety training to give them an alternative perspective on health & safety.”

He reveals that so far 70 members of Transguard’s management team have completed the IOSH managing safety training and another 50 will have completed the course by the end of 2013. Also, each member of staff in a management or supervisory capacity has personal H&S objectives which are measured during their annual performance appraisal.

The team has not stopped in its path to flying higher. Nolan says, “In March we were audited and subsequently accredited with OHSAS 18001:2007 certification — which is the international certification for occupational health and safety management systems.

We will also be supporting Dubai Airports ‘Safety Day’ event to promote H&S awareness across all stakeholders including contractors. We are nominating three of our staff for awards this year: Safe Worker, Safe Driver and Safe Supervisor.”

He concludes: “This award is a fitting tribute to the success of that strategy and all of the hard work that was put in selflessly by so many people.”


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