Health, safety, quality and sustainability at John Sisk & Son

by | Nov 9, 2022

Safety Week 2022 Gold Sponsor

John Sisk & Son is an ambitious business, and our ambition is focused on maintaining a sustainable business that is both profitable and continues to uphold our core values of Care, Integrity and Excellence, writes Wayne Metcalfe, John Sisk & Son’s Director for Health, Safety, Sustainability & Quality.

Care: We take care of ourselves, the people we work with, the environment and the community in which we work

Integrity: We are honourable in the way we conduct ourselves and our business

Excellence: We are the best at what we do

Zero philosophy

In 2017, we looked at our performance and recognised the huge improvements made reducing accidents and ill health incidence in the business since 2010. We challenged ourselves and asked how do we keep making the incremental improvements we need to achieve our Zero Philosophy?

We decided to start formally measuring our health and safety maturity and to develop a plan to gradually improve. We believe with increasing maturity will come further performance improvements. From this came our Step up to Zero improvement plan across a range of initiatives and action plans, aimed at improving our maturity and thus our performance.

Wayne Metcalfe, Director and Head of Health and Safety, Sustainability and Quality at Sisk

Our safety promises

The Sisk Safety Promises were developed in 2018 to provide a focus on key behaviours that the company considers to be of upmost importance when considering occupational health and safety. The Safety Promises inform everything we do and set clear expectations for the behaviour we expect of our people and our supply chain.

They are communicated visually in our offices and on our projects and our leaders engage directly with our teams and supply chain using the Safety Promises to prompt discussion. The Safety Promises also underpin the ‘Everyone’ element of our Behavioural Standard.

Our fair and just culture

An essential facet of any organisation with a mature approach to Health & Safety is a fair and just approach to recognising and managing both positive and negative behaviour. Such an approach requires behaviour in our offices and on our projects to be addressed in a consistent manner.

In Sisk we have worked with the Keil Centre to develop our Fair and Just Culture Framework. This framework ensures we:

• Reward and encourage positive safety behaviours

• Maintain a transparent culture where individuals are held accountable for the actions they have taken or condoned

• Promote an environment where we learn from incidents/accidents to allow us to address root causes of undesirable behaviours or management system inadequacies

• Encourage people to be mindful about their behaviour choices

In 2020 we launched our 2030 Sustainability Roadmap – Building Today, Caring for Tomorrow where we committed ourselves to being a Net Zero business by 2030, bringing together: Society – our people, Environment – our planet and Economy – our performance.

In our Roadmap we committed to 21 stretch targets that are aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are working collaboratively with our supply chain partners, our clients and a range of stakeholders to help us deliver on our targets and play our part in reducing carbon emissions.

Bog restoration is one of the innovative ways we are bringing our strategy to life. In partnership with Green Restoration Ireland (GRI) and a local farmer we have begun the rewetting of 50 acres of bog at Lackaduff, Doocastle, Co. Mayo. Ireland is home to 50 per cent of the last remaining raised bogs in Western Europe.

As a direct consequence of this bog rewetting project, 36,000 tonnes of carbon will be permanently locked into the Lackaduff bog and 20-30 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions will be avoided annually.

Sisk tree planting in the village of Manor Kilbride, Co. Wicklow. Photo: Roger Kenny

Tree planting

Our target is to have planted 1.7 million native woodland trees across Ireland, the UK and mainland Europe by our 170-year anniversary in 2029. In 2021, we planted over 182,380 native trees (Alder, Oak and Birch) in Ireland, and over 1,000 native species were planted in Sweden.

We are energised to meet our target, and will accomplish this with our employees, who have enthusiastically volunteered their time. In the coming years, we will accelerate activities with more opportunities for Sisk employees to get involved in tree planting activities. Sustainable building and infrastructure serve the people who use them as well as the greater societal need.

Sisk has been part of the development of the recently launched Irish Green Building Council Plan – “Building a Zero Carbon Ireland: A Roadmap to decarbonise Ireland’s Built Environment across its Whole Life Cycle” which presents a set of recommendations to halve the construction sector emissions by 2030, and to decarbonise Ireland’s built environment by 2050.

Green suppliers

Sisk ensures that decisions taken regarding the procurement and engagement of any organisations, individuals, goods or services are governed by integrating environmental, legal, social and economic considerations into all stages of the procurement process.

Our procurement teams actively seek to collaborate with clients, consultants, specialist contractors and suppliers to develop integrated supply chains which respect biodiversity and human rights and promote fair employment practices.

We believe that all our stakeholders have a part to play in ensuring its delivery, supported by our policies and procedures in our management system. This journey involves measuring, monitoring and assessing our operations to achieve continual improvement and to enhance performance in line with our objectives and targets, whilst meeting our compliance obligations.

In line with our Zero Philosophy we aim to achieve Zero Waste and Zero Carbon. We have made some progress but have a long way to go.

Members of the Sisk team in action at a tree planting initiative. Photo: Roger Kenny

Key deliverables so far:

• Tackling Climate Change and Air Pollution (SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13 Climate Action) including delivering a 15 per cent reduction in absolute Scope 1, 2 and mandatory Scope 3 emissions (1,597 tCO2e) and a 30 per cent reduction in energy consumption

• 97.7 per cent of Construction and Demolition waste diverted from landfill

• Over 110,000 Native trees have been planted

• Contributing to the successful rewetting of 50 acres of bog in Ireland through a partnership with Green Restoration Ireland and a local farmer

• Achieved the Irish Centre for Diversity Investors in Diversity Silver standard, recognising our commitment to diversity as an organisation

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