Position: Safety Manager
Time with the Company: 6 Years
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
My name is Kerrie Beer, I am half German and I have lived in Dublin my whole life. After finishing school, I went on to study in DIT where I graduated with an Honours Degree in Culinary Arts. I loved to cook & bake and for a few years I was happy working in the fast-pace and long hours of restaurant life.
How did you decide to study for a master’s in Health and Safety?
After a few years I realised that the restaurant industry didn’t suit me anymore. I didn’t want to work late into the night, I missed my normal routine and I wanted my weekends back.
I began to think about other career options; Food Safety or being a Safety auditor appealed to me. I never thought I would end up in construction.
I applied for the master’s after a particularly long and stressful work day thinking that I’d just go for it and see what happened. A few months later I got the acceptance letter and I began the Masters in Environment Health and Safety in DIT. It was full-time and a full-on course, but I graduated in 2013.
Tell us about your experience on Mercury’s Graduate Programme?
Having graduated with a lot of academic knowledge but no practical experience I found it difficult to find the right job for me. I was helping my boyfriend Simon (a civil engineer) look for a new job when I came across the Mercury Graduate Programme. I applied right away when I saw that they were looking for Health & Safety Graduates. I attended two interviews and was accepted onto the graduate programme in September 2013. We had a week of introductions; to the other graduates, to the graduate programme and to Mercury. Then, we were all shipped out to our separate projects. I went to work on a large life sciences & technology project in Ireland. There was already a crew of 12 safety officers on the site, so the safety team took me in and showed me the ropes.
Gradually I was given more and more responsibility. I was looking after different sections of the project and I helped put together different documents, attended safety meetings etc.
Twice a year all the graduates would get together for a week of training through Engineers Ireland. We also had a group project to complete and present to the Mercury Senior Management Team. The Graduate programme gave me a great opportunity to gain on-the-job experience straight out of college and that helped me to get to where I am today.
You’re a Safety Manager for Mercury, what’s a typical day for yourself?
I have worked on many different projects. In June 2017, I was promoted to EHS Sector Lead and subsequently promoted to Safety Manager for Mercury’s Building Services & Enterprise Data Centre sectors, covering projects across Dublin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Amsterdam, London, Madrid & Geneva.
A typical day for me could include covering inductions, site walks, Toolbox Talks, meetings etc. while also receiving calls and emails from the other sites with queries or else I could be out on a site visit to one of the other projects, where I spend the day checking safety documents and carrying out a safety compliance audit. Whether I am on my own site or visiting another site my main role as a Safety Officer is to get a realistic snapshot of the onsite safety compliance during that day, then if there are any issues contact the required people to make sure that these issues are closed and that the safety compliance on site is always improving.
I am also there to make sure that if anything does go wrong we have the correct response procedures on site, that could be providing first aid or going further and completing a full accident investigation.
There is no typical day for me, every day has different issues and required responses.
What do you find most challenging about the role?
It can be very difficult sometimes if there is a person on site who has made a conscious decision to ignore the site safety rules and decides to put themselves and others at risk. The safety department put so much work into providing the correct training, procedures, information and equipment to make sure that everyone is protected while they are at work but at the end of the day we must rely on the people doing the work to make the correct choices and sometimes they don’t. If it is an issue where the person has knowingly put themselves at risk of injury, the Safety department must then work with the Site Management and HR Department to carry out a full investigation.
What do you find most rewarding about the role?
When we have a safe and injury free day, week, month, year and people go home without hurting themselves at work. When you complete a site safety audit and you see people making the correct decisions to get the right piece of equipment to work safely.
What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career in Health & Safety or Construction?
Working in the construction industry means that every day is different and every project you move to introduces new challenges. Working as a Safety Officer is a great mixture of office and site-based roles and responsibilities. You are working as a member of the Project management team, but you are also part of the safety department. We all have the same goal though, to get the project completed without anyone being injured in the process. The construction industry offers so many different roles and it is an ever-expanding