By working with a group of actors Thames Tideway was able to create innovative health and safety training © Bazalgette Tunnel Ltd
By working with a group of actors Thames Tideway was able to create innovative health and safety training © Bazalgette Tunnel Ltd

How Thames Tideway partnered with actors on health and safety

4 November 2019

Thames Tideway has partnered with a group of actors to provide its staff with “innovative and immersive” health and safety training.

Janet Chinnery, head of corporate procurement at Thames Tideway Tunnel told the CIPS UK Conference health and safety was a key priority when onboarding suppliers and individuals to the project.

The Thames Tideway, a project which will see a 25km “super sewer” constructed to catch the overflow waste and rainwater which currently ends up in the river, required an “interactive and immersive experience” for everyone associated with the project to attend, Chinnery said. 

“A lot of time and effort was put into finding a solution for health and safety that was innovative. We didn’t want a PowerPoint presentation that we push people through or a set of corporate messages. 

“We thought long and hard about how we were going to get a supplier to support and partner with us throughout the project to deliver this very important aspect. We really looked at the market and what we alighted on, through some soft market testing and talking to suppliers, was a group of actors.”

While actors may not be the most obvious choice for health and safety training, Chinnery said the troop was able to bring creativity and innovation to their approach. However, as an SME, finding and paying for a location large enough to train hundreds of staff and suppliers would not be possible for the actors. 

“There was no way they could afford the premises. Instead, Tideway took the risk and took out a lease in a building in London, and developed a training set. But the real creativity and innovation has come from an SME, the actors. 

“We own the copyright to the script and put certain risks in place, but we're working with them very much on a partnership basis to deliver this immersive experience in central London. We've got all sorts of mockups of disasters and it's much more impactful. It's taken us working with an SME to produce that.”

The tunnel project is due for completion in 2024.

During a panel discussion on supplier diversity, Andy Horne, head of supply chain, shared goods and services at EDF Energy, discussed how the firm had partnered with a local coach company to provide transportation to Hinkley Point C.

“At the time, the coach company had three or four coaches, so not quite enough to transport 6,000 people there daily. They've now around 120 coaches as part of their fleet,” he said.

“We've seen that SME grow from relatively small shoots to where it's delivering now. It's now a multi-million pound contract.” 

The panel agreed that businesses should only engage with SMEs if they were serious about giving them an opportunity, as participating in tenders carries a cost. 

Maggie Berry, executive director for Europe at WEConnect International, said: “Only ask them to formally engage in the tender if you genuinely think that there's a chance. If there's not a chance, don't ask them because it is a big investment.”

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