Joint ICE and Costain Health and Safety Lecture

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend the joint health and safety lecture between the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and Costain that took place at The Institution of Civil Engineers, One Great George Street, Westminster, London, SW1P 3AA. As my online library, I created this article.

ICE and Costain have been doing this joint lecture for over a half-decade to promote health and safety. Both are committed to building foundations of continuing to exchange knowledge on health and safety issues to ensure that the workforce and the public are protected. ICE and Costain join forces in holding this lecture to set standards, to identify and promote best practice, and advance the health and safety agenda.

The opening remarks by our very own ICE President Professor Lord Robert Mair started by saying that we, in ICE, pride ourselves in ensuring that our members work to the very highest professional standards and our members adhere to the professional code of conduct which we believe create the foundation of trust for those that work with us and we all must own responsibility of keeping this foundation strong and by respecting our health and safety and the health and safety of others.

This continued learning is a necessity in order for individuals to comply with the law; and is an underlying requirement of the ICE Code of Conduct: in order to safeguard others – particularly Rule 3: All members shall have full regard for the public interest, particularly in relation to matters of health and safety, and in relation to the well-being of future generations.

He further mentioned that in order for us to avoid these potential dangers to become accidents that could affect our physical or mental health, or sometimes fatal, we have to continue to work together in striving for and sharing best practices.

The ICE is actively promoting the need for continuing professional development (CPD) of the members to learn more about reducing risks. The ICE also published a guide for designers entitled “Designing for Health” that helps us in making better decisions at the early stage of the design; to ensure better onsite construction safety. He also mentioned the report that was recently published which gives recommendations on how to mitigate the risks of infrastructure failures across the built environment. This report was very much triggered by the tragic Grenfell Tower disaster. ICE is proud to say that for the past 200 years, its members have been at the forefront of developing infrastructure.

The ICE and Costain joint lecture is entitled “Eliminating Harm though Diversity of thought and technology”. According to Mr Darren James, Costain Managing Director of Infrastructure and co-chair for this event, the title of the lecture and the choice of the speakers is derived from the fundamental beliefs that we believe that we need to think differently about how we make that next step change, and in doing so, ensure that we embrace the technology where the introduction of technology actually eliminates the harm possibility in the first place. One of the purposes in that lecture was to generate ideas that we all embrace and take forward and make that step change for what is a phenomenal performance to take but yet none accepted forms to a world where we can be assured that people are gonna be at their best and no ones gonna get harmed.

There were three topics in this lecture and each speaker was given 20 minutes each. The first one was about “Collaboration with all, across the project is key”  presented by a construction Industry professional with over 29 years of experience, Stuart Young, Project Leader, Project Technology for Comit UK.

Here are some notes that I wrote down:

  • According to him, eliminating harm is beyond our rich unless we change the way we think and act and to do this, we must tackle diversity and use or develop the technology.
  • COMIT’s mission is to promote the use of mobile technology within the UK construction industry by spreading best practice, promoting new developments and facilitating understanding between all stakeholders.
  • It is absolutely vital that we involve everybody in the project, and that includes clients who sometimes left out.
  • Samples provided between the conventional method of working and how disruptive technologies have the potential to change the way we work. Visit the link provided for more info:
  • A graph showing how the risks are eliminated over the years through the use of various tools to replace long-standing methods.
  • One example presented was the use of VR to carry on safety induction We no longer sitting at the safety briefing…we can now remember a lot of stuff because we see…. and we remember.
  • If we can reduce risks by using the technology by collaborating more, we have the opportunity to make a real difference.
  • Lack of collaboration in the industry is the root cause of any change that might take place.
  • A sample is provided on how risks are reduced by simply considering changing the materials.
  • Collaboration is the key
  • Reducing risk should be right on the top
  • Innovation journey starts today – think of other ways to reduce harm to the individual using the technology.

Next, in this lecture, it only did not focus on the construction industry. We could also learn from another discipline and most importantly, from another profession which we may not have considered. The next topic was about “How English rugby is tackling health and safety in the workplace” that was presented by Damian Hopley, The Rugby Players Association, Founder and Group CEO.

Here are some notes that I wrote down:

  • Damian was a rugby player during mid 90’s but unfortunately had to quit, at the age of 27, due to a knee injury (8 operations).
  • He was inspired by his own health and safety after being treated pretty badly by the Rugby Union/government
  • The average weight of an England player dramatically increases in the span of 10 years.
  • The collision is the big challenge in rugby sports.
  • Strengthening and conditioning analyst introduced a technology that studies and analyse the player’s performance and be at their best.
  • There is an ongoing research on the use of technologies that could be an important part for the rugby players.
  • A concussion is the number one injury in rugby sports.
  • Education is the number one priority and all players must complete the online questionnaire on concussion management course and make sure to understand that it’s not fine to go back to the game if you are not in 100% fit as this will cause more harm to the team.
  • Lift the Weight Campaign – talking about mental health – don’t suffer in silence, it’s ok to ask for help.

The last topic, but not the least, was about “Horizon Scanning – Preparing for the future” by Olivier Marteaux, RSSB Principal of Horizon Scanning. He has a background in economic analysis, science and technology, social sciences and philosophy. According to him, “Horizon Scanning” is the systematic gathering of evidence on future opportunities and threats.

Here are some notes that I wrote down:

  • A quote from Henry George West – 1932 radio show – regretted that there were so many professors of history in the universities, teaching lessons to the class, but there was not a single professor of foresight (someone whose full-time job is to study and estimate the consequences of new inventions).
  • As a consequence of technology, the distance from one place to another shorten; i.e. railway train speed.
  • You can easily receive the mail sent from other parts of the world on your mobile.
  • He mentioned Black Swan – events or a situation that is typically random, low probability of happening, unexpected and extremely difficult to predict but with high impact. i.e. 2007/2008 financial crisis.
  • Black Swan – you can’t see them coming and that’s why it becomes
  • If you are able to imagine the worst that something bad is going to happen, as an engineer, you will take this into consideration on your design and by doing this, you are dramatically reducing the probability of black swan from happening.
  • Weak signals – after Googling what’s a weak signal, I found this report from McKinsey:
  • What is the future? Force yourself to look beyond your day to day job and try to look for opportunities and threats.
  • TRIZ – Theory of Inventive Problem Solving – based in Phyton – provides a structured way of doing innovations and changes the way an engineer would approach a problem.
  • It’s the responsibility of horizon scanning to give evidence (show what it can do and what it can’t do) so that we can make the best decision in making sure that our strategies are resilient.

Honestly, as a new member of the institution, this is my first time to attend a lecture being conducted by the institution for its members. I learned a lot in attending this lecture and I’m looking forward to attending the upcoming more lectures that the Institution of Civil Engineers will be conducting.

As a final thought to think of, co-chair Darren James asked to reflect on our roles and to create an environment where that diverse thought can flourish and/or insist that a review is undertaken as to whether the introduction of some form of technology, can eliminate the risk that I’m doing.

Be safe everyone.

Have a great day.

Allan Cantos, EngTech MICE

Bsc. Civil Engineering / Principal Structural Technician