60 Seconds With… Bradley Mansbridge

What does safety mean in 10 words?

It’s the highest order of importance in our working life.

What do you think of safety in the rail industry?

I believe staying safe is a never-ending struggle and the word “safety” can be viewed by some as a counter-productive excuse to actually get work done, this of course depending on individual perceptions. I personally think it’s of paramount importance to us all no matter the industry, after all, most of us are only here to pay the bills and support the family and we all want to get home safe every day to the ones we love and the ones that depend on us.

How can safety be improved?

Each and every one of us leaves the house in the morning with a goal – get through the day, deliver that presentation or simply get back home as quickly as possible! In trying to achieve these daily goals it’s human nature to take the path of least resistance so shortcuts are inevitable and in some cases lead to safety incidents. Until we understand what drives our behaviour then we cannot begin to understand or even manage it with safety as our number one priority. No matter how many safety alerts we read, some of us struggle to relate to an incident unless we were there or we actually knew the person involved, it’s the whole “that will never happen to me” risk perception that needs to change. The ‘old school’ are too stuck in their ways based on experience and risk perception. For example, if you have used a tool incorrectly for the last 20 years without incident then why would you now need to do anything differently?

Culture change programmes like STOP Think! are changing perceptions slowly but until we place the safety of ourselves and our colleagues at the top of our daily goals then we will continue to have accidents and incidents.

Why do people continue to get hurt on rail sites?

Because it’s a high-pressure environment where works are carried out in between a high profile public service, mostly during the hours of darkness. Timescales are reduced and opportunities are few and far between, for some of us the consequences of an overrun are too unbearable to consider so we can all become guilty of “let’s get it done” rather than “let’s stop and reconsider”. Unfortunately until there are more high profile projects where the works are actually stopped by the average worker over a safety concern where the operatives at the coalface will still keep their heads down and push on because they don’t want to be the one to actually stop the works if they feel it’s unsafe – despite the continued messages of encouragement and support for these valued interjections from management.

This is evident by the polar opposite views of the directors vs. the operatives when it comes to production over safety.

What more can be done?

This will change naturally as the culture changes, the old school retire and the new school take over throughout the industry, not just in middle and senior management roles as they seem to be currently.

Do you think we can achieve everyone home safe every day?

No, but this won’t stop us from trying, you’ve got to have a goal otherwise you have nothing to aim for. As I have said previously until we know the driving force behind every person working alongside us then how can we be sure that their safety is even at the top of their list for that day? Our mental health has a huge part to play in this and the more we talk and interact with each other the more we learn and eventually, the more we can prevent. Sharing with our colleagues the concerns or issues that can affect our behaviour is a huge step in the right direction.

Bradley Mansbridge is a Site Manager for Osborne Infrastructure