Jourdan Cambridge, Health & Safety Advisor, Apollo Projects
Jourdan began her health & safety journey over 10 years ago in the construction sector, where she was fortunate to work with incredible people managing major projects and later areas of the EQ response. Her passion was ignited as a result, which has seen her work across civil & infrastructure, residential and now the commercial sector. Her current role is Health & Safety advisor at Apollo projects, which she absolutely loves!
Q1: What is your background, and how did you get started in Health and Safety?
My H&S construction journey began here in Canterbury, just over a decade ago. I was fortunate to work alongside some incredible minds at Downer, who were managing Major Projects and later, areas of the EQ response. It was during this time that my passion for the industry developed; The Canterbury rebuilds (post-quake) rapidly changed our approach to Health and Safety at Work and highlighted the level of support required to better educate the wider community. I transitioned from civil & infrastructure into a residential role early on, to support this need. I thoroughly enjoyed the pace, site interactions, and opportunity to advocate for diverse working groups. Eventually, an appreciation (and curiosity) for complex, large scale projects evolved – At present, I find myself in the commercial sector, predominantly working on recreational facilities, food, beverage, processing & plant operations – and I absolutely love it!
Q2: How has your health and safety journey progressed?
Historically, I have recognised and valued the need for a systematic approach to Health and Safety. My beliefs around that are evolving. In recent years, my comprehension of people-based safety has deepened – understanding morals and behaviour in conjunction with obligation is incredibly important. Documented “How’s and Why’s” (etc), although integral to a business, do not tend to drive safety performance on site. What drives people, is what matters to them, ethically and morally. Understanding this allows us to better engage with Workers at a personal level, subsequently supporting positive outcomes for wider groups, businesses, and communities.
Q3: Were there any specific people who helped you on your journey?
Gosh, where do I begin?! I have been luckily enough to have met and worked with so many influential people along the way – many of which, I still look up to, and keep in touch with today! One thing I appreciate about our industry is the ongoing encouragement you get from others – there has always been support (both internally and externally) to excel, persevere, share, and adapt in changing times. I am hopeful that I’ve been able to return the favour every now and then!
Q4: How has health and safety changed over the last few years?
We work in such an adaptive environment! It’s important to keep up. I feel practice revisions, behavioural safety, and technological advances (to name a few) have come a long way. We are experiencing higher percentages of working groups raising concerns and wanting to problem solve collaboratively, which is fantastic. Witnessing how technology supports H&S at Work has also been interesting; Work groups are becoming comfortable with using technology on site and we are exploring these advantages a lot more with Preconstruction safety methods also. It’s an exciting road ahead.
Q5: What are the biggest challenges you face now?
There is always so much you can and want to do. It’s prioritising those thoughts that can be the tricky part, especially when you have limited hours in a day or are in a sole-charge position. Each interaction on site makes you think, ‘are we doing enough.. is this efficient and / or enjoyable.. is there a better way’? – admittedly, it can be difficult to switch off (that ol “work-life balance” thing), as I have always been a determined and passionate person when it comes to work. The thing I am learning with this, however, is that it is totally ok to raise questions and ask those around you for help. I frequently lend the ear of our Project Teams, Preconstruction Team, Senior Management and Contractors alike. Nine times out of 10, they will have a practicable solution, relevant experience, or steer the conversation towards solution(s), as a collective.
Q6: How has the health and safety culture developed over your time in New Zealand?
I think there has been a real shift in NZ’s health and safety culture, in my time. H&S has evolved from a standalone department into a BAU (business-as-usual) function, for most organisations. There is no longer a separation on who is responsible to lead H&S in the workplace; Health and Safety is commonly accepted as a shared responsibility on site now. We have come a long way with educational resource, onboarding safe practice(s) from abroad and implementing legislation and regulations that cater to New Zealand’s population and environment.
Q7: Where do you see the industry heading in the next few years?
Hopefully, we will continue to see a drive in behavioural based safety-practices and technological advances, focusing on the needs of our people, in addition to working conditions and planned operating systems. I think technology is going to have a large part supporting this, from a preconstruction perspective (safety in design) as well as providing effective communication and response channels. it’s been wonderful to see how far we have come, and to see the influx of H&S professionals joining the industry is fantastic. I’m eager to see where these next few years take us!
Q 8: Any advice for someone wanting to start a career in health and safety?
Take the time to get to know the environment you work in; although fundamentally, many H&S principles are transferrable between industries, each project, location, and person experiences challenges (and interprets risk) differently. You can learn a lot from listening to individuals at work and what experiences they have had, then apply those lessons to support safe and healthy outcomes for others. H&S requires a collective approach, for practices to work – Listen, be supportive, and be patient.