With October dedicated to National Safe Work Month in Australia, we sat down with Mainmark’s new workplace health and safety manager, Francesca Davis, to discuss her new role and how she hopes to further develop a culture of safety within the business by introducing some new initiatives.
You’ve recently joined Mainmark. Can you describe your career journey so far?
I have been working in the construction industry since I was a teenager. My career in construction started out in the family business, with the most difficult manager I ever had; my Dad. He was tough and pedantic, teaching my siblings and I about the meaning of a strong work ethic and the need for a thick skin. Since then, my career has been firmly in roles within large, tier one construction companies. I have worked on some iconic projects, including Sydney’s Central Station with Laing O’Rourke, and the University of Sydney with John Holland. I have also been fortunate to travel extensively with my job, covering every state in Australia, discovering some of the most beautiful and remote locations around the country.
As Mainmark’s new WHS manager, what do you hope to achieve in your first year on the job?
I have joined a truly dynamic and innovative team, and hope to grow with this incredibly unique and diverse business. Ultimately, my role is about improving the safety systems and culture within the business for the benefit of our staff, our clients and the wider public.
Tell us about your first big initiative, ‘Drive so we all survive’?
Starting in October, we will be promoting driver and road safety activities, with a series of workshops and webinars for our staff. We have partnered with NRMA to facilitate workshop presentations and ‘Behind the Wheel’ training that will be running face-to-face (socially distanced and via MS Teams online). These interactive sessions will cover topics including low risk driving strategies, avoiding common crashes, occupant safety, fatigue management and ‘green driving’, to name a few. We will also be introducing a Best Driving Habits recognition program. Each month, we will review data collected by our GPS fleet tracking system, and those people identified with the best driving habits will be recognised and rewarded. It’s a great initiative to get people thinking about their actions on the road.
What do you see as being the biggest current challenges when it comes to workplace health and safety?
Firstly, I’ve observed there is often a false sense of security within organisations. The thinking is, “We have had no incidents before, so everything must be safe”. Safety in the workplace is actually the outcome of thoroughly planned and implemented policies that are understood and practised throughout the business. This is also how we help to create a happy and productive workforce and deliver successful projects.
Similarly, we need to consider safety as a legal obligation and an ethical responsibility. Culturally, we need to look after our people because we care about them. Mainmark is fundamentally a family business, with long-established values that are at the core of the organisation, encouraging a positive work environment. We want to keep our “family” safe.
Lastly, the old safety saying of ‘If we could just control the people, we would remove the human error element’ is really not the case. I believe that people in our business are our greatest asset and they are the ones who drive innovative solutions that contribute to a safer workplace. It’s important to listen to them.
What do you think are some of the misconceptions about how you create better safety in the workplace?
It’s not about just having policies in place; everyone is responsible for safe work practices. To that end, Mainmark has partnered with PBF Australia, a national not-for-profit organisation dedicated to reducing the impact and incidence of spinal cord injury. PBF’s workplace injury prevention programs encourage individuals to consider the lifelong impacts an unsafe work choice can have on their future health, and those around them. This program is aimed at motivating behavioural change by challenging participants to really take on safety as a core life value and remind everyone of their role in creating a safer work environment.
What do you find rewarding about the work you do?
I have worked with some pretty tough cookies in construction, who have an aversion to ‘safety’. Nothing is more rewarding than breaking down the barriers of the ‘safety person’ stigma and working alongside a crew to deliver a spectacular project. However, seeing my Dad voluntarily wearing his PPE on worksites recently has to be one of my greatest career achievements to date!
What do you enjoy doing in your downtime, do you have any special interests or hobbies?
With my husband, our friends and family, anything to do with being on the water and enjoying the outdoors. I grew up on the Hawkesbury River in Sydney and the water is where I am always at my happiest.
By Francesca Davis
Francesca is an experienced Work Health Safety Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the construction industry. Skilled in Rail Safety, Risk Management, Safety Assurance, Subcontracts Management, Project Estimation, Workplace Safety, and Occupational Health.