During the month of October, The Residences at Seafire will welcome its first owners, marking the end of a construction process that began with the demolition of the old Courtyard Marriott Hotel in April 2013.
In the four-plus years since, about 4,000 different people have worked on the construction site, which has now become Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa and The Residences at Seafire. The safety record on the site has been impressive, says Dart Development’s Senior Manager Health, Safety & Environment Rohan Marshall.
“At our height, we had about 1,000 workers on-site at one time and that doesn’t include auxiliary services, so that number could have easily been up to 1,400 people,” he says. “That’s a lot of people and we didn’t have any serious accidents on the site.”
Achieving the excellent safety record of no serious accidents hasn’t been accidental: it’s all part of Dart Development’s health, safety and environment programme. Marshall, who manages that programme for Dart Development, says Dart’s Health, Safety & Environment programme is unique in the Cayman Islands.
VALUES, CULTURE AND PHILOSOPHY
Part of the uniqueness of Dart Development’s approach to job safety can be traced to the company’s stated “Values, Culture and Philosophy,” a set of seven guiding principles that have been associated with the Dart family’s businesses for three generations.
“We embrace the Dart values with our HSE programme as much as we can,” says Marshall. Because Dart Development is a construction management company, most of the workers on its job sites are actually employed by other contractors. Even so, Marshall says they are required to adopt Dart’s strict safety procedures, and that takes one of the Dart guiding principles: teamwork.
“We manage our contractors and hold them accountable and responsible,” he says. “There is no, ‘we’re in a hurry to do something quickly,’ it’s more, ‘we’re in a hurry to do it properly.’ That’s the basic concept for everyone, from the civil engineering team led by Ray Howe to the building teams led by Gary Gibbs, who have been instrumental in ensuring that their teams follow the Dart safety standard and if they need guidance or assistance, they call me.”
The contractors hired to do work on Dart Development projects may or may not have similar health and safety standards in place beforehand. Marshall says that doesn’t preclude them from getting work on Dart jobs.
“Our philosophy is simple. If a particular contractor has not embraced our HSE guidelines, then we’re going to help them,” he says. “We want to help people in general in the country, so we’re going to give a contractor the chance to embrace our standards and we’re going to help them succeed. But if they just can’t or won’t do it, then obviously we’re going to source other contractors who will embrace our Dart standards.”
Marshall says most contractors are very receptive to the health and safety training and guidance he offers their employees. “We encourage all contractors to recognise the benefits that safe work practices and culture have for their employees,” he says. “Ensuring that all employees return safely to their families every day is the primary goal of all our efforts. But employers also come to realise that safe practices are good business because there’s a cost associated with injuries, both monetarily and reputationally.”
Some of Dart’s basic health and safety requirements relate to what workers on a job site must wear.
“On every job site we have, regardless whether it’s a fit-out or a building construction project, people are expected to wear safety glasses, hard hats, work boots and some type of high-visibility clothing,” Marshall says.
In addition, contractors are expected to do pre-task planning for all aspects of their work on a Dart Development project. “We want them to think in terms of what is needed to get the job done,” Marshall says, “because we’ve found that most of the time people get injured or things go wrong because they didn’t have the plan in place. For example, they might come to render a wall that is 12 feet high, but they bring a six-foot tall ladder. So what happens is someone stands on top of the six-foot marker and when the ladder falls, they’re injured. With proper planning, they bring a 12-foot ladder to do the work.”
The workers themselves appreciate learning proper health and safety procedures, Marshall says, adding that those workers often take the training to other job sites.
“About a year and a half ago, we started pushing the message with the workers we were training that they should take their knowledge to their other jobs,” Marshall says. “I’ve seen a lot of our workers, who have worked on our jobs for a long time, when they’re on other job sites, and I’ve seen them working quite safely on those job sites. They recognise it’s their safety, their life.”
Marshall says that embracing the safety culture has improved Dart Development’s overall construction standard and that as workers take their knowledge to other job sites, they’ll raise
the standard of construction throughout the Cayman Islands.
What gives Marshall the most satisfaction with his job, however, is just knowing he helps keep people safe.
“I love what I’m doing,” he says. “For me, the reward is in knowing that I’m enabling people to work safely so that they can go home to their families without serious injuries.”