McAlpine H&S director: ‘Good safety comes from operational excellence’

David Bucksley
David Bucksley: ‘It’s about focusing on the things that make the biggest difference’

David Bucksley, health, safety and wellbeing director at Sir Robert McAlpine, tells CM how he became involved in this area and what are the greatest misconceptions around his work.

What is your professional background?

I’ve been in construction health and safety for 17 years, although at the start I didn’t have a construction background at all: my education was in law and marketing. I came into the industry as a graduate of Skanska’s graduate programme.

Why did you specialise in health, safety and wellbeing?

My stepdad, who was working in health and safety after a career in the Royal Marines, said to me: why don’t you look at construction health and safety?

He convinced me to go on a site with him and it was totally different to what I had expected. Everyone was happy to see him because he was there to support people and enable others to succeed. Contractors on site came to him for advice. I worked to fund my NEBOSH construction certificate and it all started from there.

“We need to keep asking: is what we are doing adding value or are we just ticking boxes? Are we creating environments for people to succeed?”

David Bucksley, Sir Robert McAlpine

How did you become involved with the CIOB Health, Safety & Wellbeing Advisory Panel?

I was asked if I would like to chair the CIOB HS&W policy group and felt honoured to be able to support the institute and its members. The next step for me will be meeting with the health and safety advisory panel and setting a strategy. I want to ensure the group has a diverse membership with people from different disciplines, not just health and safety professionals. I think that extra perspective will add a lot of value to the group.

What are the greatest misconceptions around health, safety and wellbeing?

It is a very broad subject matter which affects every part of an organisation and society, and I think there’s a real danger of making broad subjects really complicated. I’m a big believer that world-class performance comes from doing the basics better than anyone else.

We need to keep asking: is what we are doing adding value or are we just ticking boxes? Are we creating environments for people to succeed? Historically, performance in health and safety has been defined by lagging indicators or how many times something’s gone wrong, but that doesn’t show whether you are managing risk well or creating the right environment for people.

I think we often overcomplicate wellbeing as well; wellbeing for me is treating people with respect and creating psychologically safe environments for people to thrive in.
I am looking forward to exploring this important subject with the group.

Good health, safety and wellbeing is simply an output of operational excellence. It’s about focusing on the things that make the biggest difference and making sure that everyone is involved.

I’m looking forward to recruiting some new members to offer fresh perspectives to support this important group.

If you are interested in joining CIOB’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing Advisory Panel or finding out more, please contact David Bucksley at [email protected].

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