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Celebrating a jubilee and 15 years of innovation in safety leadership

It must be impossible to have missed that this year marks a special anniversary for a woman who is recognised across the world. In 1952, Agatha Christie’s iconic ‘whodunnit’, The Mousetrap, opened and, apart from a short hiatus on account of lockdown, the play has run uninterrupted in London’s West End for 70 years. Rumour has it that the original set is nailed to the stage. In other anniversaries, 2022 is also the year of HRH the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee of course…

A more modest mark on the nation’s timeline is the 15th year of ATT. While we’re not quite coming of age, as we emerge from the challenges of the last two years and dare to hope that the word ‘Covid’ will remain a less ubiquitous part of daily conversation, it feels like a good moment to reflect on our journey.

Having worked in the sector, we knew that health and safety training could be uninspiring, often unrelatable to real-life and, frankly, pretty dull. As we all know, it’s more difficult to process and retain new information if the presentation of it is nudging you towards sleep.

Crucially, we believe that keeping ourselves and our colleagues safe and well in the workplace – and outside it – is more than just a question of compliance and ticking boxes. Regulations are critical, but when we’re under pressure, procedures and rules designed to ensure safety and wellbeing can become seen as obstacles to getting a job done to be disregarded or negotiated around.

We founded ATT on the belief that we are all responsible for our actions and accountable for the outcomes of those actions. Because the seemingly smallest decisions or conversations can have implications further down the line, we all need the agency, confidence and the communication skills to challenge behaviour we believe to be unsafe or potentially putting people at risk.

Health and Safety guidance has very rarely ‘gone mad’ and is based on sound evidence with the singular purpose of preventing harm. But if we are equipped with the skills to be safety leaders, then we are invested in keeping everyone safe and well, rather than solely followers of the rules.

What was also clear to us a decade and a half ago is that we are far more likely to remember things which resonate with us at an emotional level. There is evidence that the chemicals which are released when we experience something which makes us feel happy or frightened – such as serotonin or adrenaline – send signals to the synapses formed at the time of the event strengthening those memories. A bit like building muscle.

ATT’s programmes connect those who take part with the emotional reality of what can potentially happen if we don’t take responsibility for our own and others safety and wellbeing. By-passing a procedure or engaging in risky behaviour isn’t just about breaking rules, but about the potential impact on those we care about most.

We are fortunate to work with fantastic partners who share our vision: Thames Tideway at our EPIC centre in London; the consortium of Eiffage, Kier, Ferrovial Construction and BAM Nuttall delivering civil engineering works on the new high speed rail link between the Chiltern Tunnel and Long Itchington Wood; our colleagues Ørsted, developing the Hornsea 2 off-shore wind farm from their base on the Humber where we have created Thrive, a programme relevant to renewables, maritime and other sectors. There are countless others we have worked with us via our pop-up programmes.

Currently we are developing a new immersive, site-specific programme with a major railway infrastructure construction project at the heart of the narrative. All staff working on the Transpennine Route Upgrade (TRU) will attend ensuring that a health and safety culture is embedded across the alliance and all workers – regardless of rank or role – will be safety leaders.

Developing technologies demand new approaches to controls and risk assessments, but the human imperative to protect our loved-ones – and ourselves – is likely to endure, at least for the next 70 years. ATT may not run for as long as The Mousetrap, but hopefully the legacy of people going home from work at the end of the day, safe and well, will endure.

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