In 2018, RoSPA developed the RoSPA Awards Ambassador scheme, aiming to create a network of individuals who champion RoSPA’s objective to drive up health and safety standards via the RoSPA’s International Health and Safety Awards. With more than 27-years of experience in OS&H management, and over half of those spent working overseas, Stephen Storey, who is based in India, was well placed to be RoSPA’s first international awards ambassador. We catch up with him to see what this means for him.
Stephen Story has spent fifteen years working overseas in OS&H management in the Middle East and Asia. He is currently corporate EHS head for Larsen & Toubro (L&T Heavy Civil) in India.
Stephen is one of those on the frontline. His personal goal is to drive up standards across the board in a country where safety culture is not as mature as say Europe or the US. In his work with L&T, he is in charge of the safety and wellbeing of thousands of employees and contractors working in high-risk environments in heavy infrastructure sectors such as tunnels, rail, roads, bridges, nuclear, hydropower, defence, ports and harbours.
The Indian health and safety scene presents its own particular challenges. More than 22 official languages are spoken in the country, and it also has a transient workforce which poses a problem for those attempting to instil good OS&H practice and creating safer working environments. However, Larsen & Toubro have worked hard to overcome these obstacles and use the RoSPA Health & Safety Awards to demonstrate a massive commitment to health and safety with consistent entries into these international awards for almost 20 years, with over 100 entries across Larsen & Toubro in 2019.
“The workforce is highly mobile and seasonal and this produces a large, quick turnover of labour, which comes mainly from the agricultural sector.
“Workers generally have very little experience or understanding of complex construction and engineering work methods, and the correct safety behaviours that requires implementation to enable accident prevention.
“Making that change and developing those skill sets in a small window of time – before the workforce leaves the projects to take up jobs outside the construction industry in their native region – is a big challenge.”
So how is Stephen tackling these issues?
He is attempting to implement and grow a safety culture, not only through his day-to-day work on the ground but through making a firm commitment to employees and by seeking ways to further expand his influence and promote best safety practice.
Stephen regularly works with the National Safety Council of India and the International Labour Organisation, amongst others, and every January Larsen & Toubro hold a safety month which reaches thousands of stakeholders including employees, contractors, suppliers, JV partners, and clients. With theme’s such as ’embrace digital for a safer workplace’, which included installing safety apps, including safety inspection and near-miss apps on smartphones used in the workplace, and employees taking part in virtual reality construction safety training, it is clear that Stephen has his finger on the pulse of all the latest developments and technologies in safety.
“We also focused on third-party training from international bodies in crane management, operation and rigging, and scaffolding inspection and erection, and ran occupational health campaigns on heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and yoga fitness.”
In 2018, Stephen was chosen to be RoSPA’s very first international awards ambassador.
“It is an honour to be approached to support such a prestigious global brand in safety,” Stephen says. “In accepting the role as ambassador it gives me an opportunity to give something back to the occupational safety and health industry and support RoSPA in its overall vision, mission and beliefs.”
Stephen intends to encourage more organisations in India, through his networks, to enter the RoSPA Health & Safety Awards and assimilate the entry process into their safety strategies, as Larsen & Toubro has done.
“Having the opportunities as I do to be invited to talk on various boards, at conferences in India and Asia more widely, and to government and industry forums, I can speak to them of the value an organisation can gain from simply entering the awards process and understanding how they can improve and eventually be recognised as RoSPA winners.”
If you are interested in becoming part of the RoSPA Awards, visit www.rospa.com/awards and find out more about our internationally recognised award scheme.