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From tragedy to triumph: how an on-site injury ignited Andrew Sidney’s career in EHS
Twenty years ago, the idea of Andrew Sidney working as an Environmental, Health and Safety Lead on one of Europe’s most complex data centre projects would have seemed unlikely, even to him. Today, however, that reality is a testament to his resilience and adaptability in the face of life-altering circumstances.
Rising from the ranks in construction
With a career in the construction industry spanning over 35 years, Andrew has witnessed a seismic shift in safety culture. “When I started in the late 1980s, bad safety habits were the norm,” he recalls. From his humble beginnings in Hereford, near the Welsh border, Andrew established himself in the heart of London, working as a steel erector on major commercial development projects for building companies in the British capital.
However, his life and career trajectory took an unexpected turn when a serious accident occurred on-site.
A life-altering accident
In the summer heat, while erecting steel girders, a series of miscommunication and some avoidable errors led to a free-standing girder falling on Andrew. “It was scary and life-changing,” he remembers. “I was out of work for five years, grappling with immense physical injuries.”
On top of being confined to a wheelchair for a full year, Andrew and his family had been placed under vast financial pressure without warning. As the primary breadwinner with three young children, the accident took a serious toll on Andrew’s personal life: “To have your movement taken away from you like that is soul-destroying,” he says. “The mental fatigue took a lot more endurance.”
A second act
A conversation with a friend marked the start of Andrew’s new career path. His friend encouraged him to look into safety roles, Andrew underwent training. “I was hesitant at first, but deep down, I knew he was right,” he recalls.
In 2012, Andrew re-entered the construction industry as a Health and Safety Advisor, marking a “key step forward.” He joined Mercury in 2020, as an EHS Lead, first working in Berlin, and now working on a complex data centre project in Slough.
Embracing Mercury’s safety culture – Work Safe, Home Safe
Now, Andrew proudly leads his team at Mercury, setting the “gold standard of safety” across every project. He fully embraces Mercury’s “Work Safe, Home Safe” culture, a motto that resonates with his personal journey. “The culture on site is completely different nowadays,” he says, “My main priority is ensuring that every person on site goes home safe to their loved ones each evening.”
Andrew’s past experience informs his approach, particularly when welcoming new people to the project induction room. “I think telling my story helps to personalise the safety message, and if I can make a small change to someone’s attitude towards safety, then I’ve succeeded,” he says.
Mercury’s international presence has also provided Andrew with unique opportunities. “I got the chance to work on a project in Berlin last year for six months,” he shares, “It’s always interesting to see the different safety culture in other countries. What became clear to me is that the ethos, culture and standards are the exact same on a Mercury project in Berlin as they are in London. It just goes to show how safety is at the core of Mercury’s entire operations, regardless of the country.”
Despite his hardships, Andrew is humble. “There was a light at the end of the tunnel, and ultimately, I did what I needed to do.” His story serves as a testament to resilience, adaptability, and the power of a single conversation. In embracing Mercury’s culture, Andrew’s journey illustrates the importance of safety in the workplace and its impact on individuals’ lives.
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 people get home safely to their families at the end of every day. Safety is personal and we intervene 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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