Safety leaders19 January 2022

Sir Moir Lockhead

The Sir Moir Lockhead safety award recognises leaders in operational safety around the world. Originally set up in 2018, this third year of the scheme highlights safety leaders working in the UK and overseas. Three 2021 winners are profiled here. Interviews by Will Dalrymple

Sir Moir Lockhead, the founder of First Group, says that the award named after him does not follow traditional definitions of health and safety. “That is about compliance with regulations, and if you comply, you’re fine. Here, the SOE is going one step further. Instead of usually talking about compliance, we are talking about injury prevention and well-being, which is about caring for people. There’s a simple message: If you can’t do it safely, don’t do it.”

He adds: “Those people nominated and who are being rewarded have created in their companies a change of culture where injury prevention and caring for people is at the top of the list. Where this occurs, where leadership is strong, what happens, as we all know, is that they are more successful.”

An ex-colleague of Lockhead involved in the awards, Naveed Qamar, formerly safety assurance and environment director at Serco Dubai, says: “It’s leaders that make safety happen. Where the organisation’s culture is driven by the belief of leaders, it makes a huge difference, and I saw that firsthand at First Group under Sir Moir [where he worked as group safety director]. He was so passionate, he inspired us to come up with ways to engage people better. He always put safety where it needs to be: first and foremost, and everything else fell in line behind.”

Another former colleague of Sir Moir’s that was also involved in the awards behind the scenes is Gary Catapano. Previously senior vice president of safety at First Group America, he is now chief strategy and safety advisor at Magtec. He says: “There’s a quotation from Edgar Schein at MIT, the founder of organisational psychology: ‘The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture.’ He [Schein] doesn’t address safety, but what we know from looking at other businesses is that it is culture-driven, and stems from the top.”

Other award winners, from the transport industry, are Judy Agnew, senior vice president of safety solutions at Aubrey Daniels; Martin Bryce, engineering director, DHL; Linda Burtwistle, CEO, Coach USA; Deborah Hersman, former chairman of US National Transportation Safety Board and CEO of National Safety Council and Gary King, national engineering and compliance manager, Sainsbury’s. They are not profiled here, but instead in a companion article in Transport Engineer November 2021 (see


chief executive officer, Serco Middle East

Malem describes how local conditions have influenced its approach. “The messaging doesn’t change at the top level: don’t proceed to work if it is unsafe; do one-minute risk assessments; try to get across a culture where people feel empowered to stop working if they think it is unsafe. It’s the usual stuff. The only thing I would say that is different in the Middle East is that maybe there are more nationalities. I think we have 71 different languages in the organisation. [There is] the risk of miscommunication or people not quite understanding, and cultures that don’t really want to ask if people don’t understand, because they don’t want to lose face. The biggest issue is the cultural and language barriers.

“We have this thing we call ‘speed, simplicity and self-confidence’. The simplicity bit is taking our operating procedures and making them easy to understand. We do role-play for example when we are training people to understand the procedures, which we probably don’t do as much of in other parts of the world.

“We are in one of the few parts of the world where we have to not only look after people during the day, but we also we look after them, for the majority of staff, with accommodation at night. That posed extra responsibilities when COVID came along. We said we wanted to come out of the pandemic stronger as a company than when we went in. And I don’t just mean in a financial perspective, but I mean culturally, in looking after each other. Our values are really important to us, it’s about trust and care, and COVID allowed us to do it. We talk a lot about health and safety and we get into the theoretical too quickly. It’s the old adage of going home at night in the same condition that they went to work in the morning. With COVID, we continue to do that, and we have tried to drive on the cultural piece of looking after each other; we are a family.

“I insist on very high visibility of leaders and leading by example in terms of the values and the culture and particularly in terms of health, safety, environment, security and welfare of staff. A lot of it is about getting people out there, getting visible, getting close to contacts and to people; really understanding what the key issues are. I go out on site with different contracts two to three times a week, and I would like that to be the same for the rest of the team. We do have the near-miss reporting and the safety observations. You’ve got to make safety interesting and fresh, and inclusive – everyone’s got the ability to influence, and the confidence to do a safety observation, good or bad. Everyone’s got to have the confidence that if I stop a job I’m not going to be shouted at by the supervisor.

“We’ve just done a zero-harm week. We did about 20 activities. It was really fun; people enjoyed it. There was mental health stuff in there; there was road safety, we talked about COVID. So: visibility, lead by example and keep it fun and fresh, otherwise people will get bored of it.

“We use leading indicators such as near misses. Plot near miss reporting and you’ll start to see trends and hotspots; the certain contracts that we really need to keep an eye on. But it’s not only standalone. Let’s say that the near-miss report might be a spillage in a certain building, and someone goes and cleans it up. That’s great, because it might have stopped something bigger; wonderful. But if you don’t store the data and use and analyse it, you might not know that that same spot that you’re referring to has had 20 other people report near misses in the past 20 days. I’m exaggerating to make the point. It might be a knock-on effect, there might be some other issue. It’s not just a spillage; there might be problem with the water system, or whatever else. Without collecting the data and analysing it, you would never see trends and patterns.”


chief executive officer, Ainscough Crane Hire

Selling safety is core to our proposition. We expect all our colleagues to always make the safe choice, and if in doubt, stop. We have always backed our operatives if they have had to pause a job to make it safe.

Quite recently, we were on a very big job supporting a customer that was using dozens of cranes. This job required numerous subcontractors to support it. And we found when we got on there that, probably as a combination of COVID and Brexit,the typical competency levels and depth of experience that we would have expected to see among some of the contractors was not there. I think that is a real risk to our construction sector at the moment. We ended up doing additional added value awareness training to some of the less experienced people, and also employed a number of extra people on to the project to act as safety supervisors to allow it to continue.

As a former military pilot, my own culture was, if you are taking a flight, you wouldn’t dream of sitting down in the aircraft and starting the engine without going through all of the pre-flight checks first. We wanted to instil that culture into our people at Ainscough. And we’ve done that; a lot of it is through talking, through engagement and through experience, and by demonstrating that, by putting processes in place, you’re protecting yourself and your colleagues.

Our entire fleet is from Liebherr, and we do that because it’s a common system of operation. It’s a very strong safety message: our cranes all work the same way. I used to fly a British helicopter and a French helicopter. The rotors turn in the opposite direction, so your foot control was completely different when you got into it. I don’t want to underestimate the strength of the safety benefit that we get from standardisation. In fact, when we met with Liebherr some time ago, we discovered that nearly 80% of the safety enhancements on the latest cranes have come from Ainscough. Liebherr told us that unequivocally Ainscough is the leading crane company in the world for engineered safety solutions.

For example, we had one incident in which the crane boom was not correctly lowered and settled. That of course can create movement and creates a hazard, which the operator wouldn’t necessarily see when he is in back in the cab. We determined that if operators followed the Ainscough set-up process, they would not make this mistake. But we also realised that if the mistake is made, the impact could be extremely high. So we took the view that the cost of putting a pressure switch under the boom was worth the reduction in risk. Now, if the pressure switch is not pushed down, you get an alarm.

Safety isn’t just about cranes or crane operators. Safety is a cultural thing; it’s about the entire business. Everybody in this business has a key part to play, in delivering, from start to finish, a safe lifting solution. So the MAST course, Mandatory Ainscough Safety Training, benchmarks all of us. It’s about building awareness. It’s about raising the bar on safety. It’s about engaging your own people with the ‘why’ rather than a ‘tell’. The practical side of this is that safety isn’t just about when you’re on the road with a customer.

In fact, one of our earliest challenges was that people would come back and treat a depot like home. And culturally you had that problem when they came in the depot, safety doesn’t count anymore. We’ve changed that, and MAST training played a big role. You can’t change that with the operator if you’re not changing that with everybody coming in that gate.

This includes team leadership and having a ‘one team’ mentality. We call it ‘the good ship Ainscough.‘ We’re all on this ship together, and we all share responsibility for moving it in the same, safe direction.


CEO of lift and escalator consultancy LECS UK and a visiting professor at Northampton University

Having been apprenticed to British Railways, Cooper worked at lift company Kone Marryatt Scott as a staff engineer and at British Engine as an engineer surveyor. During that time, he has served as expert witness, accident investigator and has written two books on the topic as well as engineering guidance.

He is also the chair of the trust that runs the annual Lift and Escalator Symposium, usually held at Northampton University, which was set up a decade ago to avoid the cost involved with previous gatherings of academics in the lift industry. All of the research presented is peer-reviewed by a panel; the 12th annual event is scheduled for 21-22 September 2022. Information-sharing, such as safety alerts, is vital to lift and escalator safety. Cooper says: “In the past, we’ve had cracks in gearboxes. The information comes out through the trade association to the industry, and all lifts and escalators can be checked to make sure that any issues are avoided. Fortunately, the occurrence of accidents in the industry is fairly small. The interesting thing is that lifts tend to injure those working on them, whereas escalators tend to hurt their passengers.

“It might be that passengers that don’t know how to safely use escalators, and that leads to entrapment injuries. Some accidents are down to horseplay by young kids. A lot of accidents have a component of contributory negligence of passengers. It is rare to get component failure, but it does happen. I have done two principal areas of research on escalators: first, shopping trolleys on escalators, which a standards committee was considering – but fortunately backed down on – which became the basis for an MSc qualification.

“Up until then, the industry’s view was that people falling off of escalators were teenagers that had a few too many beers and rode on the handrail. My research covered a 20-year period in which 44% of accidents on escalators were found to involve children under 10 years old. Now we have different guards on the sides of escalators to prevent falls and block access, and we have incorporated brushes on the sides to stop step entrapment. All in all, research and innovation leads to safety.

“In accidents involving lift engineers, they will have done something to get the lift to work: maybe they have shorted out a safety component to perform some work, and then forgotten that they have done that, and the lift moves unexpectedly. Very often you find that accidents involving engineers are because they have not thought through the consequences of their actions.


“As an investigator of more than 40 fatalities, sometimes I see an accident that is so stupid; people didn’t think. Sometimes I see an accident and I think, ‘that might have caught me out’. It makes you think differently. It makes you more cautious. It makes you appreciative of standards. These are the messages that need to be sent to the coalface.

“No shortcuts is a given. Also, if you do something that’s a temporary thing to overcome a problem, it’s just that; it’s got to be fixed; it can’t be left like that. A classic example of that is the Italian cable car that ran away, killing 14 passengers in May 2021. It had a safety component not in use. Therefore, when it was needed, it didn’t operate. There needs to be a mindset that the job is not just to keep the lift going, but to keep it going safely.

“For argument’s sake, if it keeps overheating, don’t short out the thermistor that stops it tripping out; find out why it is overheating. Is it a mechanical defect? Has the oil broken down? Is the lift being used too much – outside of design parameters? Find the fault; isolate the fault; deal with the fault. It’s like the boating adage: if you’re taking on water, the first thing is to stop the water coming in; the second thing is deal with the water that has come in, and the third thing is to plan how to stop it from happening again.

“I had a fault on a hydraulic lift recently where it kept tripping. We couldn’t understand it initially. It was a vehicle lift, and the vehicle was stuck every time. It happened on three or four occasions. We eventually realised that it was the same vehicle every time that tripped the lift. When we dug deeper, it transpired that the car was an ex-police car, and was armoured. It was so heavy it was tripping the lift. Sometimes it would, sometimes it wouldn’t, depending on what was in it; it was that close to the cusp of the weight limit. You have to think outside of the box. What’s going on, why is this lift doing this?


“Lift engineers need to be careful on any lift, but particularly on older ones. Lifts installed after 1997 are required to be kept up to date with existing health and safety requirements, but not those installed before then. Maintenance standard BS EN81-80 (Lift upgrades for existing lifts) categorises more than 70 potential deficiencies found on older lifts, by priority. It also recognised that many lifts still being operated are over 40 years old, which was before modern safety standards came in. That doesn’t necessarily make them unsafe, but they react differently in an incident. It is similar to the fact that a lot of people drive around in heritage cars that don’t have air bags.

“The thing with lifts is that you are working on top, or underneath, or inside it even, but you are in a vulnerable position. The safety rules are very simple: When you work on a lift, just in case something happens, work out in advance where you are going to go. If you’re in a pit, you’re under the lift, so know where you can get into a safe refuge. If you are on top, know where you can lie down. Always have a plan, even if there is no clue that the lift will go wrong. It’s like having a fire safety plan for home. A lot of people don’t have one, but I know how I get out of my house if there is a fire.

“From the maintenance side, is that we don’t have enough time to do what is needed. The contractors have cut each others’ throats, so cannot invest enough time on site. Everything seems to be a rush.

“We’re getting more and more lifts and escalators, and more innovation. In simple terms what we need is more engineers. But we need them to have been trained, and have experience. Apprentices need not to be rushed, but to be high-quality.

“A licensing scheme for lift and escalator engineers along the lines of the irtec scheme for vehicle technicians might result from the Building Safety Bill. Post-Grenfell, not just the industry as a whole but the whole construction world is looking at competence, and the bill has a specific section on that.

“Maintenance contractors seem to have little respect for surveyors: LOLER examiners, competent persons, BES members. A lot of that comes about because the role of the competent person is to find problems and report on them. I suppose it’s a bit like a car owner and a police officer; if you’re parked on a double yellow, a PC is not what you want to be seeing. Still, I would like to see more respect between the two groups; I would like to see them be able to debate. When a surveyor finds something, and asks, ‘Is this safe?’ there could be a better forum for debating the issue.”

William Dalrymple

Related Companies
Ainscough Building Supplies
Lecs UK Ltd

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