Stepping Up Week
Author: Steve Crofts BSc, CMIOSH
Publication Date: 26/02/2016
Stepping Up Week is a health and safety engagement initiative held twice per year across all contracts and sites on Crossrail. It forms part of Crossrail’s Target Zero strategy and has been successful in continuous improvement of health and safety. This learning legacy page outlines the process of implementing the Stepping Up Weeks and the associated posters, briefings and schedules that supported them. It is shared for use by other projects or companies looking to implement a similar initiative on health and safety engagement.
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As a complex, multi contract programme involving numerous contractors and joint ventures, one of the health and safety challenges Crossrail had was influencing the diverse array of suppliers, to raise health and safety standards consistently, whilst simultaneously exploiting the many good practices and ideas they had themselves. Each contractor started on the programme with its own Health and Safety Culture, its own initiatives, ideas and level of maturity.
Any initiatives implemented by Crossrail required consideration of the contractors’ own approaches, allowing new ideas to be embedded into their existing ways of working, whilst providing opportunity for each of them to learn from others’ approaches and ideas.
Stepping Up Week is an example of one such initiative, created to improve levels of health and safety awareness and leadership engagement across the programme. Stepping Up Week is a week-long series of focused health and safety activities, held twice per year across all contracts and sites on Crossrail.
Leadership commitment to health and safety
In the Spring of 2013, in order to improve health and safety performance, the Safety and Health Leadership Team (SHELT), made up of leaders from both contractors and Crossrail, agreed that a combined focus was required to make a positive impact, to demonstrate leaderships’ commitment to health and safety and to positively influence the culture and levels of engagement on Crossrail sites.
‘Stepping Up Week’ was launched both to meet these requirements and to provide a medium to embed within the contractor organisations Crossrail’s Target Zero philosophy; the intention to prevent harm to all those affected by Crossrail.
Implementing Stepping Up Work
Figure 1 –Schedule produced by Bond Street Station contractor for Stepping Up Week 4
The format for Stepping Up Week allowed every site and contract to devise their own bespoke schedules as shown in Figure 1 above. These included a leadership message, delivered by a combined leadership team of both client and contractor to open and close the week, as well as various site specific activities, relevant to that location and the risks its workers were exposed to e.g. mock crane rescues, health and wellbeing checks and workshops, presentations from individuals injured in industrial accidents and exercises to improve hazard spotting.
The feedback from the first Stepping Up Week, in October 2013, was overwhelmingly positive and following the success, Stepping Up Week was adopted as a bi-annual event, becoming a standard part of the annual calendar at Crossrail.
The Crossrail H&S team coordinated each Stepping Up Week, setting the date, arranging sessions for contractors to share their ideas, producing content for the leadership messages, assigning Crossrail Directors to specific sites to participate in their activities, producing collateral such as posters and merchandise (eg, water bottles, t-shirts and mugs) as shown in Figure 2 to publicise and communicate the Week’s activities and providing content for workshops as well as guest speakers.
Figure 2 – Merchandise was produced to support Stepping Up Week events
Following the first 2 successful Stepping Up Weeks, the following Weeks were themed to launch a sub initiative like the revised Golden Rules  or a drive to enhance Wellbeing management on the programme. All Weeks were accompanied by a collection of posters, leadership briefing slides and in some cases merchandise such as branded water bottles in Stepping Up Week 5 as shown in Figure 2 above.
- Stepping Up Week 1 in October 2013 
- Stepping Up Week 2 in April 2014 
- Stepping Up Week 3 in October 2014  – following the Crossrail-wide ‘Have Your Say’ on Health and Safety survey which identified a number of areas where improvements could be made.
- Stepping Up Week 4 in April 2015  – launched the updated Target Zero and the key changes to the Golden Rules. The aim was to communicate the Principles, Golden Rules and High Risk Activities of Target Zero.
- Stepping Up Week 5 in October 2015  – focused on Health and Wellbeing. The dates aligned with the London Health and Wellbeing Week as well as the European Week for Health and Safety. Sites were asked to promote mental health and wellbeing with a special emphasis on the Worker, Workplace Safety, Wider Community and Wellbeing in general. Merchandise was produced to support the events.
Figure 3 – Collection of posters used to promote Stepping Up Weeks
Feedback was obtained before, during and after each Stepping Up Week to ensure the format continued to develop and evolve in line with the changing nature of the programme and the contractors delivering it. Feedback was obtained in workshops prior to and following Stepping Up Week and also using online Surveys, targeted at those organising schedules.
- Stepping Up Week was effective because it had the full support and is owned by the joint Leadership of both Client and Contractors.
- Theming Stepping Up Week, to launch a sub initiative like the revised Golden Rules  or a drive to enhance Wellbeing management on the programme proved effective.
- The joint Leadership briefings at the start and end of the weeks, which were delivered by Directors from both Crossrail and the contractor, were well received by the workforce and demonstrated a joined up and collaborative approach to improving health and safety.
- These weeks provided an opportunity to keep Health and Safety fresh in people’s minds and allow new approaches and best practices to be communicated across different contracts.
- The involvement of all contracts fostered healthy competition to ‘have the best Stepping Up Week’, raising standards and leading to more innovative schedules.
- The best schedules went for quality over quantity. Two or Three activities each day that engage the workforce were found to be more useful than six that will not be remembered or that are too similar to day-to-day activities.
- SHELT continued to be the vehicle to shape, develop and enhance Stepping Up Week, which ensured their ongoing commitment to the concept.
- The process of creating the schedules and participating in the activities creates networking opportunities.
Tips When Setting up a Similar Engagement Week
- Ensure senior leaders from both client and contractor are fully committed, supportive and in agreement of the concept before rolling out.
- Obtain feedback before, during and after each engagement week and regularly review the format to ensure that the format remains fresh, with each better organised, more focused and more engaging than the last.
- Ensure all stakeholders are identified and engaged, such that they understand what is expected of them before, during and after each week.
- Use the Client to coordinate the theme and some central content (Opening / Closing Message) and branding but ensure schedules are compiled, owned and relevant to the location and the workers at that location.
Steve Crofts is the Head of Health and Safety Improvements at Crossrail. He is responsible for programme wide H&S initiatives and communications as well as H&S management systems, performance reporting and Occupational Health and Wellbeing. Steve started his career in the Oil and Gas industry but quickly moved to the Railway sector where he now has over 16 years experience, primarily in and around London Underground. He has been with Crossrail since March of 2014.