Meet Craig Robertson, who puts the health and safety of his SafeLane colleagues first

Craig joined during the first lockdown and is already making positive waves across the company by driving the highest standards across the board.

Meet Craig Robertson, who puts the health and safety of his SafeLane colleagues first

Craig Robertson is SafeLane’s new Health & Safety and Quality Control Manager.  He joined during the first lockdown and is already making positive waves across the company by driving the highest standards across the board.

You had a bit of an unorthodox start to your career at SafeLane, didn’t you?

Yes, I suppose I did!  I started with the company at the beginning of April, so we had just swapped to working from home and were all adjusting to the realities of life in the COVID-19 pandemic.

My SafeLane computer equipment arrived in the post ready for me to set up my home office space – which I was sharing with my newborn baby!

How did you find starting a new job during lockdown?

Well, I used to be a consultant so my way of working previously was to go into a client’s office for really brief stints to get the information needed.  Once I’d gathered information, I’d take it away to work on it from home. 

So, joining SafeLane in lockdown didn’t feel too different to this, except I have one client now rather than 70!

How has the pandemic affected your role?

It’s been very time consuming and complicated but the company is great to work within.  Everyone uses Microsoft Teams to communicate so it hasn’t felt like a challenge I’ve faced alone.

There have been times when I want to work on other procedures or processes, but I’ve had to put things on hold because dealing with COVID-19 has taken priority.

The main challenge remains staying on top of all the ever-changing guidelines.  As we have an office in Wales as well as two in England, I have to ensure I’m aware of the Welsh guidelines too when they deviate from the English ones.

How are you doing this and keeping the teams safe?

With a lot of thorough risk assessments.

We also have a dedicated COVID-19 committee and we all work together to stay on top of the guidance, we have regular catch ups; there have been a lot of meetings!

We’ve created a COVID-19 handbook, complete with specific procedures and policies per office.  We’ve created really in-depth guidance on how things need to be done to keep everyone safe.

When we were given the okay to go back to office, we hung back six-weeks to ensure we had assessed employee feedback properly, and that everyone had been given online training on the changes they would have to get used to in the office. 

We returned in bubbles on rota systems, implemented thorough cleaning throughout each day, and provided everyone with their own cleaning kits and branded hand sanitiser (cheers, Marketing)!

When the guidance changed again, the majority of the team went back to working from home.  Where that hasn’t been best for an individual staff member, we’ve ensured we have measures to keep them safe in the office.  Although, when 95% of the team are at home, this hasn’t been too much of a challenge.

We ask everyone to report weekly if they are having any symptoms, even if they are working from home, just in case they do need to pop into the office for any reason.

How do you think the pandemic will impact the role of health and safety in the workplace?

Cleanliness and hygiene have always been a part of health and safety but never a key focus.

The focus tends to be on the big things that can result in serious injury.  You know, like heavy lifting, working with dangerous equipment, working at height etc.  Washing your hands just hadn’t been a ‘big thing.’  COVID-19 has changed this by encouraging everyone to think a lot more about their own personal hygiene.

What have you learnt from the COVID-19 situation?

The importance of cleanliness and hygiene in the workplace.  It’s been surprising that during lockdown people haven’t had colds or been ill.  We take it for granted that these things happen, but we’ve seen so many fewer instances of sickness as a result of increased personal hygiene.

Has starting a new job in a global pandemic been the biggest challenge in your career to date?

Surprisingly not.  The most challenging aspect of it is how time consuming it is though.  Otherwise, it’s okay because it just follows on from all other aspects of health and safety; you need to analyse the information and put plans into action in the best way.

It is complex with different areas and tiers to assess.  The hardest thing we’ve had to do is determine the risk of transmission.  We really value our staff’s safety and so where possible we try to go even beyond the government guidelines. 

So, what has been your biggest career challenge then?

When I started my career, I worked for an electrical wholesaler.  I was thrown in with no training, no experience, no help and all the responsibility! 

I spent all my time reading guidance notes; it took so long to learn and make everything work!  But I got there and it was such a sense of achievement.

What did you do before working at SafeLane? 

I did a degree in criminology and sociology at university.  Data analysis and investigative work was a big part of this process and something I really enjoyed.  To me an organised, methodical approach to everything is just logical. 

When I graduated, I faced a challenge utilising my degree as entry requirements had changed… so I ended up working at a cartridge manufacturer.  The shop was really underperforming, and I was shocked to realise there were no central processes.

My first week there, I reorganised everything.  I established central processes and procedures.  My boss loved what I’d done, so I was tasked with going around and training everyone and explaining the benefits of a centralised approach.

At this point, I had never even heard of ISO 9000 but had inadvertently achieved the standard!

When I completed this challenge, I went on to establish central processes for an electrical wholesaler before becoming a Compliance Manager dealing with quality, fleet, environment, and health and safety.  The focus of my role was improving processes to save money, I’m very commercially minded.

After four years of this, I wanted a new challenge so I became a consultant.

During my time as a consultant I worked for over 70 companies across sectors including:

  • Manufacturing
  • Warehousing
  • Construction

We even had a fireworks company, which was a fun challenge!

What brought you to SafeLane?

Although I enjoyed my time as a consultant, I missed having one central focus again, and working with a team.  It was time for a change.

SafeLane really stuck out – especially as I’d never worked with a company that delivered explosive threat mitigation services.

During my interview I really clicked with the UK Land Director Brian and HR Manager Sharon.  I left the interview knowing this was the place I wanted to work.

How is your role at SafeLane different to your previous roles?

Well, there are so many different elements to what SafeLane does.

Everyone is doing a great job, but I want to build on this to make it more streamlined and combat any siloed working that comes as a result of working from historic processes prior to the unification of the company.

It’s also been interesting to work with new standards, not many places have to adopt International Mine Action Standards (IMAS).  You definitely don’t need to do that for warehousing or manufacturing.

Working at SafeLane is so much more collaborative than being a consultant.   People carefully evaluate my work, and the CEO is really on the ball with everything.  Which is pretty comforting giving the service offering we deliver!

What value does safety, health, environment and quality have for our clients?

So, our service delivery focuses around taking something that is high risk and making it safe.

We are not the only provider of these services in the world, but the way that we deliver enhances safety and quality. We also have really good procedures in place to do our bit to protect the environment.

I think, in comparison to other companies, we just do things a little differently. Take our UK based land probes for example, they are built in house, and survey with our specialist software. These details add a whole other level of accuracy and safety that benefits our clients.

What is your favourite thing about working for SafeLane?

Getting to work with a lovely marketing department who interviewed me about health and safety!

Also, having the freedom and trust to do what is needed while working in a collaborative way; the scope of my role is huge and it’s such a unique subject matter…working here was exactly what I was looking for.