Safety and milestone celebrations at one of the industry’s leading contingent labour suppliers
Gary Lobue, head of HSEQ at Ganymede, has made it his number one priority to boost staff confidence to challenge unsafe working practices. Over the next year, Gary, who celebrates 40 years in the rail industry next year, is hitting the road to speak to as many of the company’s 1,000 employees as possible about this and other key safety issues.
Earlier this year, one operative was brave enough to stand up and report a close call when he was asked by a client to travel to another worksite after completing a shift, a move that would have taken him outside of planned work/travel time guidelines. However, not everyone has the confidence to do so.
Gary said: “If I took a workgroup out in the morning and I said to them: ‘Follow me into this cage with all of these lions and tigers,’ they wouldn’t follow me.
“If I said to them: ‘Come onto this 125mph railway line with 25,000 volts AC above my head that can arc in bad weather, or step over 650/750 volt DC conductor rail,’ without confirming a safe system of work, they would follow me, without speaking up and voicing their concerns. Lions and tigers can kill but so can trains and electricity. Why is this happening?
”It’s a big problem and it’s something I’m going to address on my safety visits to all of our sites, through our own internal media and with support from clients and colleagues in the industry.”
First and always
The push to encourage workers to speak up is one example of Ganymede’s commitment to its key mantra: safety first, safety always. This same dedication has seen the company invest in a safety vehicle, which tours the country spreading key safety messages, and also expand its safety team. It also saw Ganymede sponsor and host the Track Safety Alliance’s (TSA) recent conference at its head office, the Derby Conference Centre, in October.
Gary Lobue was among a line-up of 15 industry speakers, including Brian Paynter, chair of the TSA, as well as Steve Featherstone, director of track at Network Rail. The conference provided an open forum for senior management and track workers to discuss the biggest issues concerning health, safety and wellbeing and what they’re doing to overcome them.
Ganymede was keen to host the conference as part of its 20th year anniversary celebrations.
Sitting down with RailStaff, managing director Paul Crompton said: “Safety is one of our core values and that’s why we’re proud to sponsor the Track Safety Alliance conference. Safety and operational performance go hand in hand, so every person that works for us has the right to go home safely at the end of the day.”
The company began with 10 operatives back in 1998 and, following continued growth, now primary sponsors almost 1,000 rail workers.
2014 and 2015 were both milestone years for Ganymede, the former for its diversification into the energy sector and the latter for when it was chosen as one of four long-term core contingent labour suppliers to Network Rail – a particularly significant contract win.
“The contract helped us to develop into the more mature, professional organisation we are now,” explained Paul. “We have obviously invested a lot in health and safety, a new fleet and new offices.”
Ganymede is now the primary supplier of contingent labour to Network Rail in the London North Eastern (North), Wales, Western and Wessex regions and secondary supplier in the East Midlands along with other Tier 1 contractors across the UK.
Building on success
In 20 years, the Ganymede workforce has increased hundredfold, and it is the workers that Paul puts the company’s success down to.
He said: “We’ve got a really strong workforce. We have a leadership model where we invest in the workforce to try and train and develop them and give them a career path. We always try to make them feel part of one team. I think that’s probably our biggest strength: the quality, experience and competency of our workforce.”
Looking ahead, Ganymede has big plans to build on its success. Paul added: “We obviously have HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail and Transpennine coming up. We see there is a lot of growth in the rail market and we want to continue to be a supplier of choice for Network Rail and the Tier 1 contractors in IP [Infrastructure Projects] and outside of IP.”
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