#Safetyforlife, Impact

I first encountered the importance of health and safety while working on a charity project in rural India. Our group was working to build a sustainable toilet and shower unit for a boarding school in order to prevent disease and ensure girls have access to schools since a lack of sanitation systems often serves as a barrier for girls to attend.

At this point, I had no experience in the safety, health and environment (SH&E) field, but I quickly realised that the project lacked proper planning, personal protective equipment (PPE) and risk assessment. So, I did my first-ever risk assessment, ordered PPE and ensured everyone was aware of the plan as well as the risks involved and how to mitigate them. This taught me some important lessons, such as the dangers of excavation work, and the importance of training, PPE and regular safety briefings to share observations, possible risks and incidents.

Once I returned to the U.K., this experience led to me landing an SH&E and quality position with a legacy AECOM company in 2011. Safety training is still high on my agenda; I track and trace employees’ SH&E training with the aim to have all employees properly trained for their jobs, so they can return home safely at the end of each day.

As a keen traveller, I am also highly involved in travel safety, which is a very wide-ranging area that can include everything from strikes and minor riots in safe countries to writing up safe work plans for projects in countries affected by the Ebola virus as well as providing best practices in avoiding the possibility of encountering land mines when working in the field in specific developing countries.

However, safety is more than a job; it’s about social responsibility. Once involved, you find yourself intervening in possibly dangerous situations on your commute, at your gym, while walking past a building site, during house renovations, and in many other situations. Just the other morning on my cycle commute to work; I had to stop a cyclist in front of me as he was not paying attention to the left-turning vehicles. By shouting out, I managed to get him to stop 2 to 3 centimetres away from being hit by a left-turning heavy goods vehicle. In another situation, my newly opened gym had a few safety issues, in particular, failing to realise how dangerous wet and slippery floors can be. So, I pointed this out to them and suggested some practical solutions — many of which have been implemented.

By focusing on safety and changing behaviours in the workplace and at home, many lives can be saved. However, safety is not only about saving lives. Safety enhances quality of life, reduces stress and cuts down on injuries and illnesses in the work place and at home. We should all return home at the end of the day relaxed and uninjured by adopting safety behaviours — and I strongly believe this is possible.

Eva_HS_BW_89x100Eva Jonsson is a safety, health and environment coordinator/environmental lead on AECOM’s Europe, Middle East and Africa design and consulting services team. She is based in London but originally is from Sweden. When she’s not working, she is usually found climbing, cycling, diving, running, contorting into a weird yoga position or travelling the world.
Linkedin: Eva Jonsson


Originally published Apr 16, 2015

Author: Eva Jonsson