Health and Safety, UK
With a remit that covers major projects, fit-out, MEP, facades, logistics and commercial offices, Aisling Padden ensures health, safety and wellbeing is the number one priority on all projects, whether they’re delivered in six weeks or six years.
- How did you get into health and safety?
I didn’t take the most conventional route. I actually did a Masters in environmental science and was brought on to a small project to look at possible fuel contamination in the soil. It led to training to become a project manager where I was required to do a NEBOSH [National Examination Board in Occupational Safety and Health] course and that’s where I fell in love with health and safety.
- How has your career progressed at Mace?
I started within the fit-out business as a health and safety manager before moving up the ranks. In 2017 I was given an amazing opportunity to set up a health and safety team at Battersea Power Station. It’s a major project that has to contend with everything from asbestos, to lead works, to working at height. Once that was set up I extended my expertise to cover major projects, logistics, Mace MEP, facades, commercial offices and fit-out.
- What’s it like to have such a wide remit?
It’s brilliant. In the fit-out world it’s incredibly fast-paced so you need to be flexible, adaptable, and have a good overview of resources across multiple sites, while major projects require long-term planning through a series of phases. Working across a wide scope gives me the opportunity to adapt processes from all projects no matter the scale, and helps to ensure we are continually raising our standards.
- What do you enjoy most about your current role at Mace?
Communicating and engaging with people on so many levels and across so many areas, from the senior leadership team, to clients, to site operatives. I really enjoy being the conduit between business units and our health and safety leadership team.
There’s real emphasis on health, safety and wellbeing at Mace and it comes from the top which makes my life much easier. Knowing we have the support of the Board creates a pathway for me to effectively influence people – with the ultimate aim being that everyone goes home safely at the end of each day.
- What do you see as the big trend for your specialism in the next five years?
Our industry needs to do a lot of work in the wellbeing space and it’s intrinsically linked to health and safety. If people are in a prosperous environment with the right facilities, support networks and free from excessive pressure they are more likely to be more productive, alert, co-operative and enjoy their work, which leads to better health and safety outcomes. Its importance cannot be underestimated.
- What’s it like being a woman in a largely male-dominated industry?
I’ve never noticed any difference to be honest. I don’t think there’s a limit to what women can achieve in construction; the challenge is attracting them. I’m part of Mace’s Foundations for your Future programme which promotes diversity in the industry. We engage with young people to show the vast range of opportunities available for everyone in construction.
- What is your proudest moment?
It has to be what we achieved as a team on Battersea Power Station. There were about 30 of us who worked incredibly hard to get us into a position to legally and safely take over the project within an immovable deadline. As we were taking over as the principal contractor we couldn’t start slowly, we had to be ready from day one to work with the 1100 people who were already on site. I was thrilled to be asked to take on such a challenge.
“There’s real emphasis on health, safety and wellbeing at Mace and it comes from the top which makes my life much easier. ”