10 years of helping our people stay safe: insights from Michelle Besnard

Michelle Besnard

Michelle Besnard is the Health and Safety Advisor for Western Australia and Northern Territory at Tetra Tech Coffey. This month Michelle celebrates 10 years with Tetra Tech Coffey, here she shares her insights on how safety and wellbeing in the workplace have changed over the past decade.

Michelle talks about the challenges and opportunities of managing a large territory with remote workers, and how technology has helped to improve communication and streamline processes. She also gives some advice for emerging HSEQ professionals, emphasizing the importance of listening, caring, and being consistent.

How has safety and well-being in the workplace changed?

Safety in the workplace has changed quite considerably, and not just within our business but right across every industry and all the clients and organisations that we work with.

Over the years I have observed that safety and well-being have become more important and more mindful in the workplace, especially after COVID. Definitely the focus on people’s wellbeing has increased.

I feel that people are more aware of how work can affect their mental health wellbeing, and how we can support each other better.

Technology has also had a positive impact on the way in which we support safety in the workplace – it has definitely helped to improve how we communicate and streamline processes for safety and quality standards.

How do you manage safety for a workforce across such a large area, especially with territory with remote workers?

Western Australia and the Northern Territory are such large states, with workers who are often in remote locations.

One of the key advances here at Tetra Tech were the introductions of tracking devices and cel-fi phone reception units that can provide communication even when there is no reception. This really gives an added layer of assurance and safety for our field staff and ensures they remain in contact at any time. I also try to be consistent with my teams and make sure they follow the right safety plans and processes.

I’m proud of our people at Tetra Tech. Our teams take safety seriously, and everyone gets onboard with making sure they have their safety plans and their safe work method statements ready for their works. They are making the time to get everything in place to ensure that everyone returns home safely every day.

Tetra Tech globally take safety seriously. Along with safety month here in Australia, every June our 28,000 strong team globally come together, and we have a month-long focus, showcasing different safety focuses, with training, blogs and even a quiz where people can win prizes.

It’s just great to see the message of safety and wellbeing be championed by everyone.

“Looking back over the past ten years, I have enjoyed being there for our people. My role has evolved from administration to health and safety, and now focuses on nurturing and looking after people’s wellbeing – showing them what they need to know and helping them help themselves”. Michelle Besnard

What insights or advice can you share with emerging HSEQ professionals?

My advice for HSEQ professionals is to be patient, listen, and not be judgmental of people.

It is important to educate employees on the reasons behind the safety processes and systems that are in place. These measures are there to ensure that everyone can work safely, without the risk of injury or mental illness, and return home safely every day. It is also crucial to provide the necessary support to employees to ensure their well-being.

Communication is fundamental to this role and is the key to share information and knowledge and to show passion for the business.

Ongoing, open communication helps people across the business understand why they should respect the safety and quality standards of both their company and their clients and explain why they are important.

What have been some memorable moments at Tetra Tech Coffey?

Over the years, I have enjoyed working with some very friendly and genuine people who care about each other and their work. I am also very proud to have worked on some amazing and large projects that have contributed to the local environment and the mining industry.

But the highlights for me would definitely be the social events with our team. The West Australian office have hosted some amazing events – from charity walks to raise monies, to family nights at the movies where everyone dressed up in fancy costumes We work hard, but also know how to have a laugh along the way.

Connect with Michelle:  Michelle.Besnard@tetratech.com

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