Health and safety: Engaging a workforce amid an evolving landscape

Maintaining the highest standards of health and safety practices, against a backdrop of legislative change, requires an organisation to maximise its resources, in order to keep colleagues engaged and provide confidence to our customers. Here, Stephen Carbery, Director of Health & Safety at FirstPort Group Limited, explains how communication with colleagues is vital at a time of regulatory change.

The fire safety landscape has never been so evolving. With new responsibilities placed on individuals, developing regulations applicable to all managed buildings, and additional duties for those buildings over 11m and 18m in height, it is imperative that we maintain an engaged workforce that understands the business requirements and the part they place in ensuring compliance.

We have a Health and Safety team at FirstPort dedicated to fostering a strong Health and Safety culture, but with over 3,000 colleagues caring for 330,000 homes, we quickly realised we needed to put strategies in place to make sure we could reach and engage everyone with a single point of truth. The pace at which things were changing meant that we needed to provide regularly updated, accurate information and support so our colleagues felt on top of everything and could demonstrate this to customers at a time when building safety dominates headlines and is high on everyone’s radar.


In recent years, while our standards have remained as high as ever, the way we work with our colleagues has evolved. The growth of FirstPort has brought new colleagues into the business across an expanded portfolio of sites, including a number of smaller teams and lone workers. Our support functions have also adapted, with changes to our office locations and hybrid working options for some teams.

The scale of our business means our approach to health and safety must be fit for purpose, and we focus much of our day-today communication around our internal online portal which has quickly become our single source of truth and trusted point of reference for our property managers. This houses resources and best practice guidance and allows us to share regular updates and progress reports so that we can make sure we’re collectively on track with legislative requirements. Of course, this goes hand in hand with access to our specialist teams if further support is required.

We have also seen the value in face-to-face time with our colleagues, after all, our business is all about putting people first. This year, we held a series of ‘Stop for Safety’ roadshow events, welcoming hundreds of colleagues to venues around the country. This was an opportunity for health and safety and senior operational colleagues to deliver updates on key areas – including The Fire Safety Act and Fire Safety (England) regulations 2022 - and demonstrate how new regulations will impact day-to-day operations. These sessions allowed dedicated time for our staff to fully immerse themselves and to discuss in a collaborative environment the ‘in practice’ implications of the regulations.

These methods have certainly helped us to develop a workforce which is not only conscious of health and safety, but one that also carries a broader knowledge, which was recently highlighted during our successful British Safety Council audit.  Auditors visited FirstPort developments and met with site staff as part of the process to assess our health and safety practices, resulting in a five-star grading for the seventh consecutive year.

There’s no denying the new fire safety regime we face in our industry is complex, demanding and time consuming. By combining in-person collaboration with online resources, we’re equipping our teams to rise to the challenge, and helping them to provide clarity and confidence to our customers that they are in safe hands.  

Stephen Carbery, Director of Health & Safety at FirstPort Group Limited


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