Blog: SECBE Awards 2022 finalist - Cat and Genny (J McCann and Co Limited)

11 April 2022

Health, Safety & Wellbeing sponsored by VolkerWessels UK

Cat and Genny (submitted by J McCann and Co Limited)

Health, Safety & Wellbeing Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 finalist

McCann's approach to Health, Safety and Wellbeing (HS&W) is based around the key principle that nothing is so important that it cannot be done safely. The company ensures all members of its workforce and supply chain are highly engaged in a culture of safety excellence where people not only look after themselves but also look after each other. McCann's passion and commitment are to ensure “everyone goes home safely every night”. McCann’s approach is the empowerment of the workforce to make decisions on safety and their right to refuse to work if not safe. It has reinforced this across the business through monthly awards for safe actions and on the spot awards for making safe decisions.

As a business McCann operates under WISHES (Wellbeing, Inclusion, Safety, Health & Environment Strategy). It's overall company strategy for HS&W excellence is based on:

  • Effective Leadership – the team believes that clear leadership and direction is important for the business setting standards and targets that are clear and move them towards a zero-harm culture.
  • Training/Development – Training for all its staff and operations so that they can understand the risks in the role they work and ensure continuing improvement the company operates under a competency matrix.
  • Clear Expectations – McCann sets clear expectations, they empower its teams and individuals to never work unsafely and applaud all safety observations and allow its people to stop working if they feel unsafe.
  • A Learning Organisation – McCann constantly learns, they learn from their incidents and safety observations.

Following a series of uncharted service strikes across its business and the UK Construction Industry, McCann conducted investigations into the root causes, from this investigation they realised that they had to change not only their processes, but the behaviours associated with utilities identification. One such root cause is the widespread failing to use the Cable Avoidance Tool (CAT) and Signal Generator (Genny) effectively, with a huge percentage of CAT users either not using the Genny in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions, or not using the Genny at all.

To ensure that the chances of contact with buried services was avoided, Cable Avoidance Tools (CAT) are used as a ‘last line of defence’. When conducting excavations, Operatives will use the CAT to scan their work area, with the aim of identifying any previously unidentified, or uncharted services. Unfortunately, user competence was poor, with most users purely using the equipment in ‘Passive Mode’ – Scanning on power and radio modes only, and not ‘Active Mode’ – Using the signal Generator (Genny), to induce a signal which will be detected using the CAT. Following this analysis, in conjunction with our supply chain and clients, McCann developed the Genny First Initiative. This initiative has seen a significant reduction in the number of cables strikes across their construction sites.

Key achievements:

  • This initiative has won the National Highways (Formally Highways England) Blue Star Award.

  • The Genny First Initiative has been attended by personnel from Operatives to Director level, with each reporting that the programme was hugely beneficial, even from attendees with years of experience using the equipment, who by relative standards would be deemed ‘competent’ users. Notably, those personnel conducting scanning daily have reported increased confidence in the scope and limitations of the equipment, especially regarding Genny use. The message is now gaining pace with great momentum, with attendees now referring to the equipment as Genny & CAT.

  • Creating solutions through meaningful, honest engagement at every level of the business opens the door to far more effective solutions. Generally, those who have experience conducting a specific task, will be able to provide far more valuable insights into H&S and wellbeing then management alone. The ‘Genny First’ Initiative, is a true example of honest engagement to address serious challenges. And in both instances, the engagement has been felt at every level of the business, from client, Contractor, sub-contractor, operatives, specialists and manufacturers, once honest engagement gains momentum, the benefits are vast and can be attained by all.

Find out who wins at the Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards 2022 Ceremony on Thurs 30th June 2022.


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About the Health, Safety & Wellbeing Award (sponsored by VolkerWessels UK): 

Health, Safety & Wellbeing is of paramount importance and a culture of ‘safety first’ is crucial to performance. Overarching health and safety risk management systems and effective health initiatives are fundamental to reducing or eliminating all types of incident and promoting health and well–being across the supply chain. More info

>> Find out more about the other Constructing Excellence SECBE Awards finalists here

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