Safety central to Moston Construction’s ethos

13 May , 2022  

It was certainly no surprise to see Moston Construction Ltd. highly commended at the 2021 NISO / NISG Awards as this industry-leading main contractor – specialising in healthcare, education, OPW, ESB, residential, commercial and sports facility projects – has placed a keen emphasis on implementing the most thorough safety protocols since its inception more than a quarter of a century ago. Director Barry O’Shea spoke at length to Building Ireland about Moston’s strong safety culture.

The annual National Irish Safety Organisation / Northern Ireland Safety Group Awards recognise the outstanding Health & Safety performances of Ireland’s premier construction companies. At the latest staging of this prestigious All Ireland Occupational Safety Awards ceremony, Moston Construction’s commitment to instilling exceptional safety standards was recognised with a Highly Commended award.

“We are very happy to have received this award,” notes director Barry O’Shea – son of co-founder Mick O’Shea, who established Moston alongside Tom O’Neill in 1995. “We’ve been members of NISO for many years, although it’s only in recent times that we began to engage more proactively with them. Our QEHS manager John Brophy [who holds a NISO Certificate in Safety, Health and Welfare at Work] looked at the possibility of putting in a submission for the awards last year but we were a little bit late so we decided to hold off and go for it in 2021 instead. John put the application together and we were delighted to win the award.”

For Barry,  John and Moston Construction, the journey was perhaps more important than the destination. Although they were naturally pleased to receive a Highly Commended accolade, it is how much they learned from the process that represents the best measure of the success of their participation.

“Crucially, we learned a lot from taking part in the awards and this has allowed us to further improve our approach to Health & Safety,” Barry confirms. “As part of the NISO application, there is a comprehensive section on ergonomics – making sure that employees had the right chairs, desks, stands, monitors, keyboards, etc. and that they had the right posture at work. This wasn’t something we had looked too closely at before but we got an invaluable education and have been able to tighten up in our approach to ergonomics as part of Health & Safety in the office.

“Secondly, we always had a Driving for Work policy but John has been able to add more meat to that since we took part in the NISO Awards. We did have some aspects of a Driving for Work policy in place but NISO goes into great detail about this and we were able to learn from that. This is where we see the greatest value in these awards. Whatever about getting commended – which was a real honour – we got to critically assess our approach to safety as a company and to ask ourselves how could we improve things further. How could we do it even better? It was a very worthwhile experience from that perspective.”

Moston Construction is a high-quality main contractor which has successfully completed exceptional projects across the healthcare, education, commercial, residential and refurbishment sectors. They also offer a complete Design & Build service if required, from planning permission through to BCAR completion. The Moston team is committed to delivering projects to the highest standards and pride themselves on invariably achieving complete client satisfaction, always fostering and maintaining close relationships with clients and design teams alike.

While Health & Safety can be treated as an afterthought by some companies, this is rarely the case within the construction industry and Moston Construction Ltd. has embraced safety in the workplace as a priority since taking on their very first project some 27 years ago:

“It has always been a big part of our culture,” Barry continues. “From our perspective, we are also part of the Safe-T-Cert programme and we feel that this is another invaluable tool in how we approach safety. Under this scheme, you are audited every year and this audit provides precious information on how improvements can be made. In that regard, they give you a welcome steer in the right direction. When we went in for the NISO Awards, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the application process covered some areas that we hadn’t encountered before under the Safe-T-Cert. We now feel that between NISO and the Safe-T-Cert we have a much broader oversight of how to optimise our safety systems.”

Why is it so important to Barry that Moston Construction leaves no stone unturned in pursuit of the most robust safety policies and values possible? “For us, the biggest thing with safety is how it affects the whole morale within the company. If something were to go wrong it would massively impact on the morale of our employees. And you have to consider everybody within the working environment, not just your own staff.

“As a main contractor, we deal with a lot of subcontractors, many of whom have been with us for 10-15 years – although we still take on some new ones as well. We need to consider everybody. So safety has to be a cultural thing and not just a buzzword. It has to be done safely; and if it can’t be done safely then it shouldn’t be done at all. That has to feed down to our subcontractors and every person on site. They should all know that safety comes first every time and they should never do anything that they don’t believe to be safe.

“To be honest, everything else is almost irrelevant and pales into insignificance compared to safety. If you lose the confidence of the staff, what is left? I started working on sites when I was 15 and safety has evolved a lot since then. Between the mid-‘nineties and mid-‘noughties, great strides have been made in Health & Safety within construction. Back then, you didn’t need specific training for operating a teleporter or tickets for putting up scaffolding but the improvements have been massive. There is even a big difference between now and ten years ago in that any staff coming to site will have an expectation that you are going to provide a safe working environment – it’s not acceptable not to. It’s a good thing that we have arrived at this point because we worked for years to try to instil this culture and it has improved dramatically right across the board in Ireland.”

Down through the years, Moston Construction have worked on many landmark buildings and sites around the capital, including Trinity College Dublin, the Beaumont Hospital, UCD, St James’s Hospital and Dublin Zoo, to namecheck just a handful. They have a proven track record delivering a vast array of construction, fit out and refurb projects for local authorities, the OPW, ESB and the HSE as well as residential and office blocks, sports and leisure centres, etc. etc.

Current projects include a design and build diagnostics laboratory for Roche Diagnostics at St Vincent’s Hospital; an upgrade of the ESB’s Bedford Row substation in Temple Bar (necessitating a considerable amount of conservation work as this is a protected structure); and projects for the Office of Public Works on O’Connell Street as well as the Garda Headquarters in the Phoenix Park. In January, works will commence on a ward upgrade at The Coombe Hospital.

Castleknock Lawn Tennis Club was an interesting project completed in 2021. Works included an extension of the existing indoor courts building, which is constructed of a steel portal frame and cladding. The works also involved the construction of a new public plaza and an upgrade to the existing club car park, located to the north of the new plaza. The external feature facade systems used for this project were architectural cladding, curtain walling and exposed in-situ concrete.

In 2021, Moston Construction also completed a cardiac catheterisation laboratory reconfiguration and upgrade at St James’s Hospital. Works here included configuring the existing cardiology department to provide an expansion to the cardiac catheterisation laboratory, services for a further catheterisation laboratory and reconfiguration of recovery and day ward admission space. Works within the catheterisation laboratory consisted of floor, wall and ceiling finishes, lead lined walls, doors and screens, M&E upgrade, sanitary ware installation and painting and decorating.

Meanwhile, in 2020, the design and build of a four-storey extension to the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry was delivered, with an overall gross internal floor area of 1,500 square metres The project was carried out in a live environment, as the hospital remained occupied and functional for the duration of the works. The internal fit out consisted of two ultra clean ventilated operating theatres, a new roof finish, 20 bed spaces, erecting all partition walls, fire stopping, installation of en-suites, ward pantries, and associated nurse stations, nurses’ offices, clean & dirty utilities, and a store / plant room on the top floor. External works comprised demolitions to the smoking gazebo, existing roadways, footpaths and ramps and the construction of new roadways, paths, site services and associated landscaping works.

Generating direct employ for a team of 25 between office staff and site personnel, including in-house quantity surveyors, contracts managers, site engineers, foremen and general operatives (alongside a large number of skilled subbies), Moston Construction were – due to their status as an essential services provider – largely able to keep going during both construction shutdowns implemented in response to the public health emergency restrictions imposed during Spring 2020 and Winter 2020/21.

“The first lockdown in March 2020 was a big hit to the industry because it came along so quickly but the Sports Surgery Clinic in Santry kept going as the HSE had taken over the private hospitals and we were able to divert our staff who were willing to work over to that project. We were in a position to facilitate anybody who was prepared to work,” Barry concludes. “That was an unbelievably chaotic period for John, from March until May 2020, but he got us through it.

“For the second lockdown, we had the catheterisation lab in St James’s as well as some social housing work for the Peter McVerry Trust – we finished eight apartments for them in Dublin 8 in 2021. That was a more difficult lockdown as it lasted for four months but we kept those two sites open and, again, we got through it. We would be hopeful that construction will be able to keep going from now on as housing simply has to happen and, as an industry, we can’t afford to stop again.”

Moston Construction Ltd.,

Unit 1,

Coolmine Industrial Estate,

Dublin 15.

Tel: 01 8221677

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.moston.ie

This article was published in Building Ireland Magazine, April 2022, Vol 8 No 4