Safety & Health: Q&A with Jay Markland

27 April 2022

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In recognition of World Safety and Health Day at Work (Thursday, 28th of April), we sat down with Jay Markland, our Safety Business Partner to discuss the importance of safety and health in the workplace.

With over 14 years of experience in safety, Jay has always made the health and wellbeing of his colleagues his priority. The rest of the world joined him in prioritising safety and wellbeing in 2020 when we were hit with the pandemic.

Jay's dedication to safety was highlighted in December 2021 when our team was highly commended at the prestigious National Safety Awards of Excellence for our solution to ‘Work Health Safety Risk’.

Jay has been an invaluable asset to the ahs team throughout lockdowns and spikes in infection rates, as he implemented best-in-class safety protocols and inspected hotels to ensure the safety of our team members, our hotel partners, and their guests.

So let’s get started...

Q&A with Jay Markland

Jay, why do you think safety should always be front of mind?

It makes sense to want to keep ourselves safe, knowing that workplace injuries can really impact your personal life. Everyone has different reasons for keeping safety front of mind. I keep safety front of mind so that I can go home at the end of the day fit and healthy and spend quality time with my family and friends and go sailing on the weekends.

Safety isn’t a special frame of mind, or a complex concept in my opinion. Safety should simply be a part of everything we do. At RGF Staffing, and at ahs hospitality, we have a simple belief – that ‘We are all Safety Leaders’.

That making simple decisions in everything that you do will keep not only you safe, but also those around you.

What led you to work in safety?

Coming from an IT and process improvement background, for me, safety was a natural progression from process improvement as efficient work practices align well with safe work practices. On a personal level, I was drawn to the ethical aspect of safety - that all people should be able to complete a day’s work without sustaining an injury.

Working in safety is extremely rewarding given the breadth of involvement we have with the business and our great operational teams. Whether it is working with frontline team members to assess and control a discrete activity or developing and implementing safety improvements that benefit the whole organisation, working in safety continues to provide a rewarding experience every day.

How has your role changed since the pandemic?

I think that the biggest change in the role of a safety professional since the beginning of the pandemic has been the need to be even more agile than we were before. In early 2020, COVID-19was an unknown entity, and still is to a degree.

As safety professionals, we still had the goal to keep everyone safe, but at the time we didn’t necessarily have all the answers. On top of that, we were also contending with the ever-changing regulatory environment with legislation in differing states. Constantly reviewing government websites to stay abreast of current guidance and requirements and then translating this into operational activities without overwhelming the teams on the ground was a continual challenge. There were some weeks where the processes written on a Monday were no longer relevant on the Friday. I think that during the pandemic every safety professional had their agility and the ‘speed to market’ on the back of their advice tested.

What would be your advice to a business to ensure they continue to maintain a COVID safe workspace?

In addition to the need to stay informed on regulatory requirements, consultation and communication is imperative. Consultation needs to occur between businesses that share worksites to ensure alignment of COVID safe behaviours. We found early in the pandemic it would not work to develop our COVID safe plans in isolation, knowing that the behaviours of other businesses on a shared worksite could have a direct impact on the safety of our team.

As a COVID safe plan is developed and amended, the workforce needs to be engaged with ongoing consultation and communication. Workers need to understand the plan and any key changes after each amendment, feel confident the plan would help keep them safe, and understand what they need to do to comply with and support the plan.

It is important to remember that COVID-19 is a hazard like any other, and the tried and tested safety process of identifying, assessing, and controlling hazards, is followed to ensure effective management.

At ahs hospitality we prioritise safety. If you want to speak to us about your hotel's safety plans please get in touch.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work promotes quality work, safety, and health standards and processes. This campaign is held annually on an international scale to improve occupational safety and health culture within the workplace.