We asked Paul Monck, CIRAS rep at Drainline Southern Ltd, how he gets the most from CIRAS membership and helps to create a culture of safety and wellbeing.

Not all CIRAS members are big transport operators.  Many of our members are much smaller specialists, contributing to the transport sector in their own unique way.  And being a CIRAS rep is not a ‘one size fits all’ experience either. 

Paul Monck

What does Drainline Southern Ltd do, and where do you fit in?

Drainline Southern cleanses and repairs foul and surface water drainage networks on the rail network.  We also do this in the highways sector, along with drainage cleansing, CCTV, geographical information system (GIS) and traffic management services.  I’ve been at Drainline since September 2019, and I’m the safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) director and CIRAS rep.

What does Drainline get out of being a CIRAS member?

The most important benefit for us is the confidence of knowing that our staff can report a safety concern to an independent source, in a comfortable and safe space over the phone.  It’s the peace of mind of knowing CIRAS is there in the background – everyone knows they can use it to speak up about health and safety concerns at work if they need to.  Even if they don’t have anything specific to report now, they know CIRAS is there if they ever do.

It’s also about giving people choice.  Although safety is one of our core values, I do also recognise that not all staff will speak up to management.  So having a direct confidential reporting line gives them another way to raise their concerns.  We know the CIRAS team will give our staff the time they need, and really listen.

We want our staff to understand that what we are offering in relation to health and safety isn’t just words – it has some depth and meaning to it.  Giving our staff the option of CIRAS tells our staff that we mean what we say.

Other ways I get the most out of CIRAS include joining the reps’ webinars, engaging with my local stakeholder manager, and ensuring I share news updates from CIRAS with my teams and frontline staff.

How do you make sure your rail staff understand how CIRAS fits in?

Generally, through CIRAS posters on our SHEQ notice boards, information on our mounted TV screens and talking about it at managers’ toolbox talks and safety alerts.  We also include information about CIRAS at induction where we discuss the positives of confidential reporting and how employees can use it.

How have you created a culture of safety and wellbeing at Drainline?

Every business will have their own individual ways to drive a better safety culture.  For me it’s always been about listening to the needs of our greatest assets: our people.  By being approachable and engaging, driving training needs, sharing knowledge, and collaborating, and being able to empathise.   A sound awareness and understanding and being compassionate around mental health issues also plays a big part in today’s manager’s repertoire.

I think if your team understands and accepts you have their best interests at the forefront of everything you do, it helps you get buy-in for safety compliance more easily and with far fewer challenges.

As a collective team we push all these positive core values and behaviours through our own continuous Vision Zero message.  We encourage proactive reporting of issues, run a monthly health and safety award scheme, and recognise that our employees’ contributions to our workplace safety are key to our success.

What would you like to see CIRAS do next?

I’d like to see CIRAS arrange some face-to-face meetings.  I think that online meetings have played a vital role over the last 18 months or so, but getting back to meeting people again will prompt us to share what we all learnt during this pandemic.