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'Mercury’s safety culture starts with our family mindset' - Natalia Dehesa Aguado, EHS Manager 
‘Mercury’s global safety culture starts with our family mindset’ – Natalia Dehesa Aguado, EHS Manager
Author: Cormac Byrne  /  14th Apr, 2022  /  News, Environmental, Health & Safety

Hailing from Osorno, a small village in the north of Spain, Natalia Dehesa Aguado’s journey with Mercury began after applying for a role as an Environmental Health & Safety Advisor, while she was working as an Au Pair in Dublin, Ireland. 

As an ever-present member of our global EHS team, Natalia plays an integral role in ensuring our people and supply-chain partners return home from work safely, every day.

With an array of experience in the safe delivery of Mercury projects in cities such as Amsterdam and Frankfurt, Natalia was recently promoted to EHS Manager in 2020, and now has responsibility for two data centre projects in Madrid, Spain.

Over the past four years, Natalia has witnessed Mercury’s continued growth across Europe. With over 3,500 direct employees working on 40+ projects throughout EMEA, Natalia believes that the ‘close-knit and family nature’ of our project teams is crucial to driving our industry leading safety performance. 

Safety is our anchor value and Natalia is of the belief that our motto of ‘Work Safe, Home Safe’ is the most salient of our values. “Working is important,” she explains, “But getting home safely to your family every day is the most important thing you can do. On site you learn to put a name to faces, and each day you learn that bit more about a person. As a safety professional it is my duty to care for all people on site and ensure that they can get home to their family every day. It is all about teaching people to understand that while they are here to do a job, if they do not do it safely, then it is for nothing.” 

Natalia leads a tool box talk.

Natalia is of the opinion that Mercury’s support network sets us apart from competitors, and she believes that this starts with our senior management team and shines through our company structures. “Our directors and senior management are only ever a call away,” she explains. “If I phone Michael O’Connor, our EHS Director, he is always willing to offer advice to ensure that we, as a global safety team, do what is best for our people. We take all feedback and lessons on board and do not hide from anything.”

“That relationship with senior management is ever present. Everyone is part of the family and I know that if I write to someone on Microsoft Teams, or make a call, everyone is there for you and that network is amazing,” she adds. 

High levels of respect and dignity are essential in maintaining the health and wellbeing of our staff, and while many perceive construction to be a male dominated industry, Natalia believes there are many opportunities for females within the sector. She states, “I have been treated with respect from the first day since I joined Mercury. I work with many women on site, and I think we feel comfortable and confident in what we are doing.” 

With over 10.5 million hours worked Lost Time Injury (LTI) recordable free in 2021, Mercury’s safety record is best-in-class. Before joining our team, Natalia spent a couple of years working for other contractors. When asked how Mercury drives an industry leading global safety programme, she explains: “Irish companies in general have a great safety mindset, but Mercury just goes that step further. Safety is our core value and not all contractors grasp the true importance of this.” 

Alan Clinton, Rory O’Brien, John Crawford, and Paddy Watters are just a few of the wider Mercury team who Natalia credits with positively influencing her career to date. One person in particular, who she highlights is Julian Green, who she first worked under in Amsterdam. 

“Under the guidance of Julian Green in The Netherlands, I first learned how to set up a job and about Mercury’s global safety culture,” she explains.

Natalia has since been tasked with implementing this culture in Madrid and this is something that has not come without difficulty. She often finds herself calling upon experiences garnered from working on projects across Europe to solve onsite problems. “I have met people from many diverse cultures and backgrounds in all my time with Mercury, and I will always remember the great people I have met on this journey. Travelling and working gives you a unique perspective on life and your profession. Being in Germany and Amsterdam introduces you to different safety cultures,” she says.

“Spain has a different culture in terms of safety. It’s been a challenge from day one,” Natalia continues. “While Spanish culture is good in some ways, there are some areas where it needs to improve, and Mercury has guided me to improve health and safety on our sites here.”

Natalia identifies the delivery of practical training as essential in keeping our people and supply-chain members engaged with their personal safety. For her, safety is “all about getting the basics right.” She continues, “I can tell when people are not interested, so for some training we have changed our delivery so that toolbox talks are more educational and practical in manner. We teach people to work at heights, and show them how to put a harness on, how to set up a crane and an exclusion area and so on. We are not the police, but we are there to make our people understand that their safety is our number one priority. We have worked with several Spanish sub-contractors, and it is incredible to see how their approach to health and safety has improved.”

While Natalia’s career rise and achievements are highly regarded within Mercury, she humbly insists that she is not one for personal milestones and says that any positive safety achievements are part of a wider team effort. “I do not really have one career achievement that is my favourite. For me, I am proud of how I have grown as a person and how I have grown alongside my team in Madrid. Finishing these two projects in a safe manner and meeting client expectations is what is most important to me.” 

WorkSafe | HomeSafe

We are dedicated to achieving the highest possible standards of Health & Safety. Safety is embedded in our DNA, it is the Mercury way – from design to construction, commissioning and handover – our safety processes ensure adequate coordination and communication to enable our projects to be constructed safely. Our team understand that by sticking to the safe coordinated plan we can guarantee that our team get home safely to their families at the end of every day.

Safety is personal and our team intervenes proactively to ensure compliance day by day and hour by hour. We respect our workforce and they respect our management as an integrated team with a common goal – to get home safe each day. Through our Environmental, Health & Safety (EHS) policies and procedures, we ensure an industry-leading project delivery every time and most importantly – the safety and wellbeing of all our employees.

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