Jo Parker, TfL.

CIRAS members come in all shapes and sizes, from small family run firms to infrastructure managers such as Network Rail and Transport for London (TfL). When it comes to making sure you get the most out of your CIRAS membership, there is no ‘one size fits all’. Whilst you can tailor how we work together to embed CIRAS, we’re keen to share examples of how others have done this successfully. Here, the CIRAS rep for TfL, Jo Parker, shares how – and why - the business has introduced CIRAS champions.

What role does CIRAS play at TfL?
CIRAS plays a very important role within TfL. Our staff know that if they –or a colleague –witness unsafe behaviours or practices and in-house management do not follow it up satisfactorily, there is somewhere else they can go. Alternatively, those who are not comfortable raising their concern internally in the first place can contact CIRAS who will raise the concern on their behalf. Either way, they know that their concern will be heard, and that TfL will respond to their CIRAS report.   

What’s the most important thing a CIRAS rep can do to get the most out of their membership?
Firstly, I take every report seriously and make sure it is investigated fully. As a rep I also need to share information about CIRAS so that staff know what it’s all about.  I ensure that all health and safety staff understand CIRAS so they can spread the word outside the Safety, Health and Environment Directorate among the frontline workforce.

What’s the best way to help your staff to know about and understand CIRAS?
I find the best approach is to engage staff in conversation about it, for example in team meetings, which will give them the opportunity to ask questions. Within TfL we promote CIRAS by including it in our key communications. We have a slide about CIRAS in our staff induction, and our director recently included a paragraph in her weekly communication to the SHE Directorate with a reminder about the members’ portal and details of how to use it. We have arranged lunchtime learning sessions where those across the Directorate can log in and listen to me and the CIRAS champions talking a bit about CIRAS, who can report and what they can report.

Can you tell us more about the TfL CIRAS champions?
Following a suggestion by our CIRAS stakeholder manager, TfL adopted CIRAS champions earlier this year. Nominating individuals across TfL to act as CIRAS champions means that there are others who can help me spread the word and embed the message about CIRAS – something that can be difficult in an organisation as large as TfL. If more than one person is talking about CIRAS, it helps strengthen the message. For any CIRAS member thinking of going down this route, my advice would be to choose people with whom you have a good working relationship, and who are happy to muck in and do what it takes to get the message out there.

What would you say to a colleague who felt negative about the prospect of receiving a CIRAS report?
I would say that receiving a CIRAS report is a positive thing, because if something is wrong, we can’t fix it unless we know about it.  It’s not a way for staff to ‘attack’ us, it’s information which helps us improve the safety and wellbeing of our staff – so this must be a good thing.

Are there any challenges to being a CIRAS rep and how do you deal with them?
I have been CIRAS rep for about six years and the biggest challenge I have found is getting reports investigated in a timely manner. I’ve dealt with this by making sure the people I’m dealing with understand the importance of responding to CIRAS reports on time. I talk to them from the perspective of the reporter, to help them understand what it would feel like if they had a safety concern and had to wait too long for someone to respond.

What CIRAS resources do you use and how do you use them?
I personally rely on the members’ portal quite a bit.  I enjoy using the materials that are available on the shared learning section of the portal. I attend CIRAS reps’ events quite often and enjoy meeting other reps – I find listening to other people’s experiences very useful. I have also recently attended a webinar on road risk which was interesting.

If you want to find out more, contact Jo Parker at joanneparker2@tfl.gov.uk

Being a CIRAS rep won’t be a big demand on your time – we offer a range of support to help. If you’re interested in adopting the CIRAS champions approach, you could use existing networks such as health and safety reps. If you want to know more about adopting the CIRAS champions approach, contact us on enquiries@ciras.org.uk and your stakeholder manager will be in touch.