Formula for success


Jun 02, 2017

Fletcher Construction Health and Safety Advisor Sarah McDonald says she’s still trying to take in the fact that she’s just been named New Zealand’s Health and Safety Practitioner of the year.

There were two moments of real pride for her at the Workplace Health and Safety awards dinner in Auckland this week. 

One was watching Graham Darlow collect the Supreme Award on behalf of the Canterbury Rebuild Safety Charter and then a moment later hearing her name called -  and realising it would be another Fletcher win and walk up to the podium.  

The second high point was phoning her two children in Kapiti, 15 and 11 year olds, and telling them the good news.

The Senior Safety Advisor for the MacKays to Peka Peka expressway, says she’d been looking forward to a good night out at the awards dinner but had not been overly confident. 

 “I was up against some pretty talented ladies but it was nice. It was nice to get the recognition not only for me but for the team and the contractors.”   

The citation for the award says she’s positively influenced health and safety thinking in the wider Wellington region and describes her as “…a key player in forging a consistent approach out of the different cultures of the seven Alliance members and 5000 individual contractors.”  

Sarah says the most important thing about the M2PP safety formula was that it wasn’t her who had to push safety.  

“It’s not just me it’s the thousands of contractors who have believed in it, and wanted to get home safety and also return safe in the morning.”

She says the project had great leadership from the Board and the Alliance but also got buy-in from the ground. 

 A lot of people say let’s change the culture. It’s a really an easy sentence to say and harder to achieve without the buy-in from the grass roots. We had our systems come from the grass roots, from the contractors, and accomplishing it was amazing.

“It doesn’t happen every day with safety.  Especially when you have a short timeline on projects. We had 5,000 contractors coming in and a reasonably short time to engage and implement the safety formula.” 

M2PP created a customised and unified safety engagement initiative called “Our Safety Formula”.  Sarah has now completed her work with M2PP and looking forward to what her next project might be. 

“I just love what I do,” she says.  “I just love it. I get a lot of satisfaction working on projects. I really just enjoy the industry. I’ve been lucky. I’m just grateful and it’s a great achievement not everybody gets to do this.” 

She’s now spent a decade working with Fletcher Infrastructure starting at first in a part-time role which just grew over the ten years. Being a role model for her children is important, she says, because it shows them you can set goals and achieve them. 

“My family have always been practitioners; all very caring, doctors, nurses dentists. So my family has always been in roles where you have to care to do it. I kind of followed on from them and went down the road of Health and Safety.”

The Canterbury Safety Rebuild Charter, chaired by Graham Darlow, won best leadership of an industry sector and went on to the win the Supreme Award.