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In the spotlight with Andy Mee

17 October 2022

This month we put Tilisafe's Andy Mee in the spotlight to find out how he found himself working in the world of health and safety.

How did you get into the health and safety industry?

Like many people that get into health and safety, I came via another route. My initial areas of experience were learned in the construction sector and particularly focussed on civil engineering.  Some time ago, as a young man, with strength in maths, I was allocated to provide support in the area of acoustics. This was to become my deepest area of specialism in the years to follow.

As a director at HAVi specialising in HAVS for many years across a broad spectrum of clients, I acquired a much broader set of skills. I honestly cannot stress the importance working with different organisations and safety professionals have had on my development over the years. 

My work now centres around safety-critical processes. Tilisafe supports companies seeking specialist support in this area.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Supporting a broad range of clients brings a variety of challenges. I enjoy solving problems and seeing the solutions in place. I gain satisfaction knowing that over the years, there are people whose lives are better off because of the work that we have done. Now I’m not being overly vain about that but I think most people in the health and safety sector will feel the same. The people we help might never realise but that does not diminish the benefit of our work.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing the health and safety industry in the UK?

A couple of years ago I’d have suggested a completely different answer. However, I think some pertinent things spring to mind today.

Health and safety is a profession, however, it’s a role that is best served not just by an academic approach but one that is based on experience. I was raised in a family of construction workers and I was always told you need to do the job to understand it. An attitude that promotes the best understanding of a task comes from doing it. Where we get separation of understanding the task we can see controls in place that do not fit the task. Unfortunately, this can create an apathy around health and safety and understanding “real risk scenarios”. I find that some of the most enjoyable and productive work happens not around the board room table but with my hard hat on, meeting the people involved in the front line of an organisation's operations.

Another factor I feel is important is the designation of responsibility. In some organisations, the responsibilities can be a little diffuse. Creating clarity of roles and defining where health and safety responsibilities lie is fundamental to it becoming part of a safe organisational culture.

How do you think these challenges can be overcome?

I would like to see safety graduates spending time with apprentices carrying out the processes. To many, this might seem unusual but the value and understanding it creates are quite powerful in my experience.  

What sets Tilisafe apart from its competitors?

We care about the process, we take into consideration LEAN systems. We do not see safety as a cost we see it as an opportunity to improve processes for the organisation which in turn can make the working environment safer. The money we save organisations is a huge advantage but it is a beneficial secondary benefit.

Primarily, we are here to help solve the challenges that organisations face. All operations can eliminate risk but it involves closing the doors! Our fundamental approach is to step into the organisations' shoes, understand and help define their health and safety challenges and turn around quick solutions to support them.

What are your most memorable successes at TiliSafe?

Amazon is known for how the organisation relentlessly streamlines processes. To have an organisation of their stature recognise what we are doing and extensively embed our work into their facilities is a huge endorsement of what we do. The work that Amazon do to ensure health and safety is at the forefront of everything they do is satisfying for me as a sector professional. As a supplier to Amazon it's great to see the importance they put into every aspect of safety be it; ergonomics; training and especially welfare. They demonstrate that exceptional health and safety can be achieved and they reap the benefits of their approach. We are proud to be a part of it.

What’s next in the product pipeline?

Continual development to adjust to client requirements. There is no longer a one size fits all approach from the industry as each organisation requires differing levels.

What’s your vision for the future of Tilisafe?

Artificial Intelligence, we believe will have a significant role to play in our profession.   Through our work and partners,  have experienced technology in the last year that is next generation.  It makes me question what we (TiliSafe) are doing and to be very honest I ask myself daily are we behind?  Do we need to speed up? In this ever-adapting modern world, the need to question everything is now a requirement. The technology we use is continuously adapting and the journey we’ve been on in the last two years has seen our technology develop rapidly. Artificial Intelligence is now everywhere, so to use the Darwinian phrase “those that adapt to change survive” I think that says which direction we are going in perfectly.

What do you think the medium-term future holds for the safety industry globally?

I think we are in a period of change, industrialisation is becoming more automated although people are still a critical part of the processes and often from a risk perspective, the weakest part.  I see the focus being on safety around how automation is handled, a process which carries potential benefits and risks. 

What health and safety issues are you most passionate about?

I said earlier that I care about what I do because I know that in some way I know I've made a difference in someone’s life that doesn’t even know me. Every health and safety person and supervisor (who cares about health and safety) can say the same thing. I care about knowing what makes a difference. Sorting out the highest risk problem, making people's lives easier and more risk-free without it impacting the commerciality of the business. So in answer to the question I’m passionate about solving problems. 

Sometimes this can be helping organisations understand their key risk. One of the most useful questions I find to ask organisations is where they have had near misses in the past. These are the best indicator of the areas of health and safety to focus on. When things go wrong, very often there is a track record of prior errors or minor failures that lead up to a bigger issue. Helping organisations listen to understand where this is happening in their processes is incredibly satisfying.

Andy Mee is director at Tilisafe. For more information, visit www.tilisafe.co.uk